Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Trip to Incheon

October 17th, 2010
The big event for the day was a 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli performance in 인천 Incheon (a city neighboring Seoul) at the 은율탈춤 Eunyul Talchum training center. But for some reason I just did not leave the house at the right time (had I forgotten how long it takes to get there? Was my brain just not in full operation?), and arrived much too late, already halfway through the performance. There was no announcing at all while I was there, and the crowd was thin consisting mostly of old people who presumably live near there, and young women (perhaps early middle schoolers or late elementary schoolers) who appear to be associated with Eunyul Talchum. They were actively using 추임새 chu’imsae (in a sort of automatic fashion, where each appropriate place has chu’imsae but not in the way that truly encourages the performance through directly responding to how the performer is doing and lifting them to new efforts). I would have liked to find out about those students, but after the performance in addition to being scolded, I had to accept being treated like I’m unable to navigate the transportation system (when really if I’d left an entire HOUR earlier I would have arrived a nice half hour before the show). This mainly meant that I was sent to the subway in the first available car and could not hang around and talk to the Eunyul people. The question will wait for another day. I was dropped at the subway together with 박주현 Bak Juhyeon, the 대금 daegeum player for the group. He and I talked almost the whole way to Seoul, or mostly I asked questions and he talked.

In 2002 when he was a freshman at 한국예술종합학교 Korean National University of the Arts (the same place that 원중 Won Jung wants to go), an older student introduced him to 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli and he started to play for the group, he was entered into the official group register in 2005. He should graduate next year (yes, he says, it’s taken an exceptionally long time even accounting for mandatory military service). He also had to audition, even though he’d gone to middle and high school for Korean performing arts and had played 대금 daegeum throughout that time. He said that about 100 students are admitted to the school of traditional arts per year, of those 4-5 are daegeum players. Of the students admitted for Korean traditional music, about 8 or 9 in 10 (his words) went to at least 국악 gukak high school, if not middle school as well. He hopes to get a stable job in Seoul, so he can keep playing for Songpa after graduating, but a stable job (with a traditional music orchestra) in another area will be preferable to staying in Seoul and freelancing.

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