August 22nd, 2010
Karjam and I ran out to watch 송파백중놀이 Songpa Baekjung Noli shortly after returning home from 필봉Pilbong. First there was a performance of 풍물pungmul music, then 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli (three scenes only and plagued by sound issues—not working mic, feedback and differential adjustments in the mics). In fact one older man in the audience started yelling at the performers about the mics and what not and I could hear other people grumbling, too. After Songpa performed there was 씨름 Ssireum (traditional wrestling) and 경기민요 Gyeonggi Minyo (folk songs of the Gyeonggi region) and last of all, 줄타기 Jultagi (tight-rope). Karjam enjoyed the singing but we got way more Jeultagi than was needed. In fact the jeultagi guy was late, and so to pass the time they made me come out and be the entertaining foreigner, dancing (in a dress mind you) for the group of Koreans who were probably much less impressed after they found out I had a five year association with the group. The pungmul group was supposed to come back to end the show, but he just decided to take the rest of the time himself, and the audience didn’t complain. Although protesting, I still dragged Karjam to meet all the Songpa people, the 예능보유자 Human Treasure and 회장님 preservation association president, 함완식 Hahm Wanshik practically talked his ear off, insisting that Karjam take him to Tibet (not the only person to do this about one in five of the people who really engage with Karjam say the same thing). I think Karjam did end up feeling really warmly welcomed, though. Yi Suhwan and some of the other guys really tried to talk in English to him, and Kim Yeongsuk was her usual welcoming self.