June 5th, 2011
Luckily Karjam and I arrived at the bus station 2 minutes before the bus to 전주 Jeonju. If we'd arrived even a little later we would have had to wait an hour and a half. In Jeonju we decided to use the bus from the 시외터미날 to 남부터미날 in Seoul instead of lugging our bags and ourselves to the Express Bus Terminal. Also the buses are cheaper. We left 20 minutes later for Seoul and managed to get home by about noon. At home I had to quickly deal with Photoshop for some photos of mask dance dramas that were requested by 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk of 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. I was happy to help him, but he wanted photos of performances I'd never gotten around to processing at all. Not photos of his art, but of three others—I'm sure he has a good use for them, but I didn't ask. I'll put some of those photos before this paragraph for your enjoyment.
We headed back to the Express Bus Terminal and took a bus to 강릉 Gangneung leaving around 3:30. In Gangneung we took a local bus to the festival grounds and wandered around just a little bit before the 8 p.m. performance of 강릉 관노 가면극 Gangneung Gwanno Gamyeon'geuk which was the reason I wanted to go to the festival. Otherwise the festival seemed really commercialized, there was just this one little strip with traditional performances and demos and a TON of commercialism on both sides of the local river.
The performance was (of course) very good. I had a chat with a few students learning the Gamyeon'geuk after the show, they were of the age that could be late middle school but I suspect early high school. They were also the most enthusiastic members of the crowd. Then I talked to the man who'd acted the part of the 양반 yangban character. They have a huge building right next to the festival site dedicated as a training center. Again, as in October, the actors all seemed pretty young, with the percussionists containing the older members of the art.
We had a hellish time finding a place to stay, the whole town was full of tourists enjoying the long weekend and the festival—we ended up paying 40,000 won for a small room that should have been 20,000 won.
June 6th, 2011
I had originally thought I might want to stay in Gangneung until the evening, but we got to the festival pretty early and decided to leave around 3 pm. I am really adverse to crowds and it was very crowded. I spent more than an hour watching a shamanic ceremony/performance sitting in a sea of short-haired permed grandmothers. It was actually really interesting to watch them, but the shaman was also fairly spectacular, a woman with a large number of disciples and a very good 장구 janggu player who she interacted with. Both sides of the altar had young festival workers/volunteers stationed with vacuums. They were kept constantly busy vacuuming drifting ash out of the air after people had burned a prayer at the altar.
I then watched two entire entrants in the 농악nongak (pungmul) music competition, both groups were quite similar to each other and I was not enormously impressed with them, but I was happy to see how many people were ardently engaged with Korean traditions, so I guess I should keep my judgments of their 상모 sangmo ability to myself.
I also got to see some girls doing 열뒤기 (jumping standing see-saw). They were amazing. Back flips in the air and landing smack on the board and repeat. Seriously.
Our bus back to Seoul was stuck in serious return to Seoul after holiday weekend traffic.