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.


Hahoe Byeolsingut Talnori

My name is Gim Guhui, and I am a first year student majoring in Korean Studies. Please watch the video I prepared on the topic of Hahoe byeolsingut talnori.


Related Videos List:

To learn more about the masks used in this drama in another video I made, click here. To learn more about a different mask dance drama in a video by my classmate, click here

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All videos by Gim Guhui


Yang bangeon –   “Byeoli jineun eondeok”


I think that an ancient culture and a modern world reconciled in Andong Hahoe village very well.

I went to Andong Hahoe village to watch Hahoe byeolsingut talnori. And there, I felt some harmony between tradition society and modern society.

In my opinion, Hahoe village is one of the most well-harmonious places between ancient and modern. So I will explain why Hahoe village is well-reconciled place by giving example of my experience. I will separate two parts of reconciled place: positive and negative.

Positive side is that they induce participation of audience through performer’s ad-lib. For example, when the performer does their play for regular performance, deputy mayor of Andong participated in it. Imae who is one of the performers in Hahoe byeolsingut talnori said to audience, “Deputy Mayor of Andong is here! Only if the deputy mayor dances here, we can continue our performance. Please welcome him!” After Imae finished his talk, the deputy mayor really came into performance location and dance. Through deputy mayor’s participation, the audience could laugh a lot. And his appearance with western clothes (black suit) among the Korean traditional clothes (Hanbok) looks like really cool and unique. I think it is a kind of combination of ancient culture and modern world. Second positive side is that Andong Hahoe village is the place where Confucian concept is well preserved. Despite its Confucian mind, there are so many foreigners to experience Korean traditional culture. It is the evidence that Andong Hahoe village succeeded to reconcile tradition and modern society.

Third, there are Hahoe mask bread and Hahoe mask chocolate in the souvenir shop. They mix ancient culture (Hahoe mask) and modern (chocolate). Through the combination of tradition and modern, it can evoke people’s attraction and village profits.

However, there are also some negative reconciled features. Commercialization is ongoing in Hahoe village so it is a part of reconciling ancient culture and modern world. Before Hahoe village was designated as UNESCO world heritage, they collected only parking fee. But after designated as world heritage, they collect not only parking fee but also admission fee. I understand that they will develop their performance using our parking fee and admission fee, but I worry about commercialization of Hahoe village. Besides, there are so many restaurants and souvenir shops in the village. When I was young, there are only a few stores. But when I visited there in recent, I surprised at so many stores. Although it can offer convenience for tourists, it seems that Hahoe village forgets its original purpose – to maintain Confucian value.

In my opinion, there is one thing that was lacking in Hahoe village: Service for foreign people. I think that the effective way to reconcile past and present is to perform as foreign languages like English and Japanese. Actually, there are so many foreign tourists in the village. But the performance usually acted as Korean, they can’t understand the contents easily. If our traditional culture (Hahoe byeolsingut talnori) performed for foreigner with foreign language, we can reconcile it perfectly. It will become the most unique and influential performance in Korea and it will be acknowledged as bridge for linking between past and present.

Through my own experience, I learned Andong Hahoe village is the place where Korea traditional culture is full of and also co-exists modern culture. I assure that almost never exist a place where tradition and modern mix harmoniously like Hahoe village in Korea.