Dasom’s Reflexive Essay on Learning about Tradition

I made a video that introduce Korean tradition to foreigners. And this was my second time making video in my whole life. I made a video about Dongji[동지] and Korean natural dyeing. I think teaching someone’s tradition to other people is an end in itself. The act ‘teaching’ contains the kind mind that want to share our special thing. And by learning other’s tradition, we can get the chance that understanding other culture and also can compare with our tradition.

Frankly say, I never believed that I can do this. From making video to uploading my video on youtube. Because I thought this is kind of the work that special social organization and government usually do. But I am so proud that I can do this. Even I am a just freshman who learns about Korea just few months. I need to spend more time and effort to make my video, but truly this chance was really make me proud. And this was reconfirmed me that I can do this and what I should continuously do.

While making a video about Dongji, I learned our tradition more. If I didn’t make this video, I even don’t know what Dongjiheonmal[. But now, I can clearly explain the whole thing about dongji to foreigners and I can easily organize the information by thinking my video order. I thought this was real study. To make a video and teach others, at first I have to be an expert on that topic. By doing this, we can learn and memorize the whole thing even we do not have to try to memorize it consciously. Just without my being aware of it, I know the point and can memory the whole thing. I feel this is real study. Usually, to me, dongji is just a day that we eat red bean porridge. When the morning news tells me that today is the dongji, then I usually eat out to eat red bean porridge. No more, no less. But now, dongji become a more special day to me. I want to follow the tradition that my ancestors do. And I want to modernize those forgotten traditions. If we cannot do, then change it into modern way. Actually next dongji, I will present little socks to my mother to do not forget the meaning that present beoseon[버선] to their female family member. There are lots of ways to revive those old meaningful traditions and also we can make new traditions and improve it.

And also, while the process of doing natural dyeing, I feel happy to do what my ancestors usually do. If I picked the flowers and make dye, It would be more meaningful. But I thought this is kind of adapting (or compromising). This is modern society. So that people find more easy way to do something and buy pre-made products. So using the cochineal powder is kind of compromising, I thought. And I learned huge thing while do this with my mother. As my mother teaches me how to do natural dyeing and give me some her special tips which came from her experiences, I thought this is the real transmission. During with my mother, by watching her processing, each second I learned how to do natural dyeing. Just with her and saw what she is doing, I learned and I can do the same thing to my future daughter too.

While this process, I feel the most important thing is ‘just try’. Just try, then someone will learn you and as time goes by continuing this, some descendent will search one’s memory and record what she saw. And this will be a tradition. Like current intangible cultural asset usually do. Same here, the important thing is ‘do’ the tradition. We all know this is tradition and that is the historic holiday, but they really don’t care it. But when they know the meaning of it and do that, then each small act become a precious thing. And I learned how much you know about the tradition and how often you do the tradition is the most important thing. And finally I feel some responsibility as a Koreanist that not only just inform tradition but instruct why we have to keep it and how can we keep our precious tradition.

Video on Dongji and on natural dyeing.


Haejin’s Reflexive Essay on the Importance of Experiencing Folk Arts

I participated the 21st national youth folk arts festival and the 55th Korean folk arts festival as a university student supporter on October 2, 2014 through October 5, 2014. “Since 1994, the 21st national youth folk arts festival has been hosting with Korean folk arts festival for teenagers continuing interest and transmission in Korean folk arts” (Yi 1992: 447). And Korean folk arts festival is held every year in order to transmit and preserve. After watching performances of the Korean folk arts festival and national youth folk arts festival, I conducted an interview and survey about 25 people in there. As a result, I felt and learned many things there. There is many Korean folk art performances mainly with Pungmul. However Korean folk arts festival is performed so many different kinds of Korean folk arts. I learned various Korean folk arts that I have ever seen through this opportunity. I felt Korean folk arts has resentment (han) and fun (heung). It was like I saw performances in the Joseon dynasty. While I watched these performance, I was thinking I hope young people contact various Korean folk arts. For now, young people often contact the popular arts. On the other hand, most young people aren’t contacting folk art. So young people should be contacted with Korean folk arts often in the future. Because, if they have interest in folk art, Korean folk arts can be passed down in after times.

I first knew Korean folk arts festival in this year. Young people don’t know well about Korean folk arts festival in despite of big festival which is supported by government. Before I attend Korean folk arts festival, I didn’t know about folklore. Before then, I only knew Samulnori, Pungmulnori, Talnori. But, after attending Korean folk arts festival, I felt lots of things and discovered the wonders of Korean folk art. And I learned Sangyeo sori, Jakdu geori, Geobuk nori and various other things while watching Korean folk arts festival for 4 days. I also actually realized ‘Heung[1] and ‘Han[2] because I learned these two things in only textbook. I thought most Korean folk art are similar until attending Korean folk art festival. However I realized that it’s different now. I hope especially young people contact folk art more than now. I think many young people watch Samulnori, Pungmulnori in Korean folk art. But if they contact various Korean folk art, I think they would think Korean folk art is not boring.

I surveyed teenagers to participate in the 21st national youth folk arts festival and adults to participate in the 55th Korean folk arts festival for 4days. One of the question is ‘what do you think about how many young people learn about Korean traditional art in future’. The most impressive student who participated in Balwu Gongyang of Incheon metropolitan city team said “Yes, and if I dance Beopgo chum continuously, I am willing to train disciples. I really like Beopgo chum.” Thus, there is a students who really interested in Korean folk art, on the other hand, some students participated in Korean folk arts festival for suggestion of teacher. But, I think that if the young often contact Korean folk art, they will be help to preserve definitely. And a 23-years-old woman who attended in Korean folk arts festival said “I attended Korean folk arts festival in second. In the past, I had no interest in folk art. But, through Korean folk arts festival, I became interested in folk art. Now I really love Korean folk art.”

While attending Korean folk arts festival, I changed my thinking and excited to get to know Korean folk art throughout the 4days. Through the survey, I knew that now teenagers played Pungmul more than other things. However students who performed a folk play except for Pungmul and Samul are rare. The 21st national youth folk arts festival showed most of Pungmul. I hope more people have interested in folk art. Such as Sangyeo sori, Geommu, Gut noreum etc. I think if young people have interest in various folk art, these wonderful Korean folk art will be passed down generation after generation. For preservation of Korean folk art, we need young people’s love and attention urgently. And I think that after collecting people’s attention and love, transmission of Korean folk art will be shine at last.


Yi, Hyeonjae. Encyclopedia Korean Culture, 19th ed., s.v. “National folk arts contest.” Seongnam: The Academy of Korean Studies, 1992.

[1] ‘Heung’ means fun and excitement in Korean.

[2] ‘Han’ means sorrow, regret in Korean.

Traditional Wedding in korea

Hello! My name is Yang Ha-eon. I’m a first year student of Hanguk University of Foreign Studies. I want to explain to you about Korea’s traditional wedding ceremony~!

Related Videos List:  hope you enjoy it!! And also please watch my another video about Bowing. It will teach you how to bow in special day or events.

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  • Gim yundeok – “Geomungo Sanjo”

This year, Korea suffered lots of things. Especially, Sewol-ho disaster was the most tragic incident. Many performances and ideological movements were shown. I think these are the moral and attempt to make new things to do not repeat the tragic incident. History always gives us experience and moral. Furthermore at this point of time, history still attempts to tell us something. However, it may be asked whether we have ears can hear that. In performance and life, we can feel it and it is called Han. Because Han is in our DNA that consists of experience, it makes us share history and life.

Many performers and scholars attempt to arrange the stage that can combine modern and tradition. But we already combine and share modern and tradition through Han. As I studied and watched some performances, I felt sharing of Han. If someone asked me the question “what and where is the Han” Then my feeling such as love, charge, sadness and an overflowing joy will be basis. The feeling Han is the medium that connect modern and traditional culture. Especially, I felt deep sorrow when I heard pungmulnori. In Honam Udo Jeongeup Nongak, I could feel not only grief of Saewol disaster but also hope. The tearsouldn’t describe in one emotion. It was like an immediate and inevitable reaction. Also, I felt similar emotion in Goseong Ogwangdae. But there is also coexistence and equality that are the basic point of the performance and Korean culture. Performers combined the modern aspect and natural Korean culture. It is not weird but natural. This was the ideal point of the performance. Combination of modern and natural Korea is detailed goal of modern Korea society. But it is having an absurd dream.

During the video project, I went to traditional wedding ceremony and researched about bowing. They were about folklore and first I think it is really difficult. I couldn’t define and say folklore in confidence. But later when I was eating dinner I saw my spoon. Then I realized that this is the folklore. There is no spoon that is same with Korean spoon. I think that the unequaled thing that represents my identity is the folklore. Even a small product, our tradition and marvelous wisdom are in it. When I watched traditional wedding of Korea, I can confirm details that have meanings. For example, gourd dipper represents a well-matched couple and the concord of husband and wife. The chestnut symbolizes the ancestors and the jujube symbolizes fecundity.  Our duty is that reinvent the tradition and the meanings. Folklore is old and non-fashion, but it tie in and cannot be detached with modern. Modern makes folklore real “folklore”. That is to say, because modern exists, past also exists. Humor and cons of life coexist with us in the name of tradition. It is not natural but inevitable. I can feel tradition in daily life and me.

Tradition is the identity of Korea. That identity is gained by experience. Experience is the key-point of our identity. It makes me sad and even joyful. I can feel and see feeling of other people. My identity is hidden in my DNA called “Korean”. Because I am Korean can feel wonder seeing traditional wedding ceremony and many other performances. It is not a just nationalism. What I seen one by one can be my identity. Some foreigner can see Korea through me. Because  which I’m doing is all tradition and learned by experience and history. I am a subject that reconciles modern world and ancient culture. I am a living witness of ancient Korea and an intermediary between tradition and modern. Ancient and modern are connect with emotion and effort that keep and love tradition. We are the keeper and lover. Especially because I am a student of Korean Studies who is responsible for the knowledge of Korea.

The Jinju Namgang Yudeung(Lantern) Festival

Hello. My name is Seo Se Ryeong. I am a freshman of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and my major is Korean Studies. Please watch the video I prepared on the topic of the Jinju Namgang Yudeung(Lantern) Festival

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  • All video by  Seo Se Ryeong.