Traditions revived during Seollal holidays

2010-04-04 03:32

Lunar New Year`s Day, or Seollal, is one of the two biggest holidays in Korea, along with Chuseok. Although much of the younger generation takes advantage of the time off to go skiing or travel abroad, many Koreans still celebrate the holiday the way it has been done for centuries.
To keep the tradition alive, museums and theaters, as well as such government organizations as the Korea National Tourism Organization, have prepared special programs of various traditional games and performances for the holidays beginning Feb. 6. Following are some of the highlights.
The National Museum of Korea in Ichon-dong, Seoul, will present a wide range of free cultural events including traditional Korean performances and free screenings of hit Korean films, from Feb. 6 to 8.
For one hour from 2 p.m. on Feb. 6, popular gayageum trio Aura will perform in a concert of the revised 25-string gayageum (original gayageum has 12 strings), in which students of the Korean National University of Arts will offer music with diverse styles from Western classical to traditional folk music.
From 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 8, traditional percussion quartet Noreummachi will perform in the hope of promoting happiness among the audience. Formed in 1993, the percussion quartet is known through director Lee Joon-ik`s 2005 film "The King and the Clown" (2005), for which the four gave lessons of traditional performances to its main actors.
<**1>Throughout the holidays, the main auditorium of the museum, will show a series of family-oriented films such as "Bunt" (2007), "For Horowitz" (2006) and "the Girl Who Leapt through Time" (2006). For more information, call the museum at (02) 2077-9224.
From Feb. 4 to 10, the Korea Tourism Organization will hold a special Seollal holiday event, packed with various fun-filled cultural activities, at the Tourism Information Center in the lower level of the KTO building.
TIC visitors will be able to have their picture taken wearing hanbok and play traditional Korean folk games such as tuho (arrow throwing), yut (a board game played tossing four sticks into the air), jegi chagi (kicking of a shuttlecock), paeng-i chigi (top spinning), and sangmo doligi (hat spinning).
The TIC staff will assist visitors in enjoying the events and hand out bok-jumeoni (good luck pouches) to wish visitors luck in the future. The TIC provides information on traveling within Korea to both visitors from home and abroad.
Its facilities, which have been recently renovated, include the Tourist Information Desk, a travel agency, a traditional souvenir shop, an auditorium, tourist information resources, life-size cut-out displays of Korean stars, and a photo zone featuring the backdrop of a television drama. For more information, call (02) 729-9497.
The National Folk Museum of Korea (02-3704-3114), inside Gyeongbok Palace, downtown Seoul, will present open air folkloric performances from Feb. 6 to 10. Various performances including a traditional martial arts showcase and traditional gut (exorcism performance) will be available free of charge.
Chongdong Theater, in downtown Seoul, will present "Korean Traditional Stage" from 4 p.m. on Feb. 6 to 10. The theater`s best known repertoire of traditional music and dance is one of the few performing arts programs specifically designed for foreign tourists.
Tickets are 20,000 won to 30,000 won. Those who wear hanbok will receive a 50 percent discount. For more information, call (02) 751-1500.
Foreign visitors can enjoy a wide range of traditional Korean games including jegi chagi and yut for free at the Namsangol Traditional Village (02-2266-6937) at the foot of Mount Nam in downtown Seoul, from Feb. 6 to 10.
The National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts, southern Seoul, will celebrate Lunar New Year`s Day with a concert titled "The New Year`s Concert of Sky, Land and People" at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7.
The concert revolves around three renditions of "Yongbieocheonga," a 15th century ballad written by King Sejong, featuring musicians and dancers of the center`s own performing arts companies, including the Court Music Troupe.
Tickets are from 8,000 won to 10,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-3394.
Admission is free on Feb. 7 at the Seoul Museum of History ( in Sinmunno, downtown Seoul. On the Lunar New Year`s Day, the museum will present "Bukcheong Saja Noreum," a traditional mask dance, from 3 p.m.
The popular traditional mask dance involves performers donning five different masks including a huge but comic lion mask. Originally performed to expel evil spirits for the coming year and attract good luck as a New Year`s custom in the Hamgyeong Provinces, now in North Korea, the performance has been designated national Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 15.
The Korean Folk Village in Yong-in, Gyeonggi Province, will host, from Feb. 6 to 10, various folk games and traditional activities in which the visitors can participate. Among the many traditional rituals to be demonstrated are sacrificial offerings to the spirits, "jisinbalpgi" in which a group of villagers visit each home playing farmer`s music and making sacrificial offerings, and flying of kites which symbolizes letting go of all the misfortunes of the past year. For more information, call (031) 288-0000.
By Lee Yong-sung
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