Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bongsan Talchum Performance (in the cold) and Wolduk's Wedding

April 23rd, 2011
We were supposed to take KTX back to Seoul, but since 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli practice was cancelled, we switched to the much cheaper bus. In the evening all three of us went to 남산한옥골 Namsan Hanokgol which is a completely unpopulated 한옥 hanok (traditional Korean building) village in Seoul accessible from 충무로 Chungmuro Subway Station. We were there for a performance of 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum but we were early enough that we could walk around a bit in the last rays of the setting sun on the picturesque buildings.

Quite a few of the evening class students showed up, or specifically 하연, 정현, and 신마. I sat in the front row with mom and took photos on my long zoom (most of the time) and Karjam stood u p above the entire seating area and took video looking down on us. Most of the audience evaporated during the show because it was beastly cold. The performance however was totally awesome, I am so glad that mom got a chance to see that particular show because they really were just blazing.

First they performed 사상좌춤 sasangjwachum, the dance of the four Buddhist novices. Next was the dance of the eight dark-faced monks, they performed monk 1 which I never get to see (except the other day when I went to see 최창주 Choi Changju's class). Then 2, 3, 4, and 8. Of course at the end all 8 danced together. Next they did the story of 소무 Somu and 노장 Nojang, the old monk. What was special is that they really did the whole thing, starting with carrying Somu onto the stage in the litter. The shoe seller and monkey came on and did their bit and last 취발이 Chuibali came and chased of Nojang so he could take Somu for himself. Finally (of course) they did 사장춤 sajachum, the lion dance. I truly think that the two who did the lion were probably the only comfortable people there (temperature wise).
After the show when I was bowing to everyone 장용일 Jang Yongil told me that they don't care if there is just one person in the audience, they're going to give it their all, but he also thanked us for staying in the freezing temperatures.

Mom and I went to Lazy Sue's and had tea and shared a dessert before heading home.

April 24th, 2011
Sunday was a really busy day. First we got dressed up and went to 김월덕 Kim Woldeok's wedding to 이주원 Yi Juwon. I had an immediately great impression of him, and I think that Woldeok must have been embarrassed to say that he was handsome, because she had said he wasn't yet he looked quite dashing. We took photos with the bride and then sat down to wait for the wedding, Karjam over on one side near the microphones he'd use to sing a congratulatory song, the two of us on the groom's side (better seats were available for filming Karjam and the wedding). It was a large hotel wedding where you sit at your lunch table to watch the wedding. After the ceremony (Karjam's song went off very well) we had lunch, took the group photos and all that. We also peaked in on the 폐백 pyaebaek traditional ceremony for a few minutes with Bonnie and Curtis.

Mom and Karjam went home, I headed to the 임실필봉농악 서울전수관 Imshil Pilbong Nongak Seoul Training Center where I was about 1.5 hours late to a rehearsal with 개전연 Gaejeonyeon (my 풍물 pungmul club) for our performance next weekend from 1-4. The room was packed with 19 participants all dancing and/ or playing instruments. It seems that there are three of us doing 잡색 japsaek (dancing in costume and playing the part of a specific character). I will be 화동 Hwadong , a male character who wears red robes and a red hat with pheasant feathers. I could have asked to do 소고 sogo but someone has to do japsaek and I enjoy it. It's certainly livelier than the other parts, although not a way to show off skills! In the future when my상모  sangmo is just a little better I hope to do sangmo, of course. Of course 은정/도령 Eunjeong was leading the rehearsal. She'll obviously be the 상쇠 sangsoi (꽹과리 ggwaenggwari lead player) for the performance as well.

I rushed home and then mom and I went to check out 인사동 Insadong although it was getting late and shops were rapidly closing. 


  1. Hello,

    I am a high school student. I found your blog while researching for my Theater paper on Talchum. I was wondering whether you could give me the specifics on who performed the 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum and how I could contact them if I wanted to go watch them next week. I would also be very grateful if you could tell me the specifics for where in Korea you were supposed to watch the 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli practice and if possible, how I could contact them too.

    Thank you,

  2. AL, if you're able to find my website, you could do a little more searching and find the website which would tell you who performs (on a revolving and ever-changing basis) when the Bongsan Talchum Preservation Association stages a performance. The next performance for Songpa Sandae Noli should be June 11th, near 광화문, there will be several excellent shows then. You could call the office of Songpa Sandae Noli to get more information about the show.

    Remember that 'talchum' is only the correct term for the three mask dance dramas from 황해도 Hwanghae Province, you should use 가면극 or 탈놀이 if you want to refer to mask dance dramas in general. The use of 'talchum' for all mask dance dramas is a common error perpetuated despite the efforts of the mask dancers and scholars on the subject.

  3. Hello again,

    Sorry for the late reply. Thank you so much for the information. I did check your post in time but I unfortunately missed the performance because of my travel schedules. I was, however, able to go to the Bongsan Talchum office to collect some research materials. Also, thank you very much for correcting my terminology--I wouldn't want to make that mistake on my paper.