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Kong Ok-jin comes back onstage

Renowned Korean dancer and intangible cultural asset Kong Ok-jin, 79, known for her “Beggar” dance, came back on stage for the first time in five years.

Kong Ok-jin
Kong Ok-jin
She has so far been unable to show her performances due to a recent car accident and a stroke she suffered in 1998.

Nevertheless, Kong performed “Salpuri” dance, the traditional Korean exorcism dance, as well as her “Beggar Dance” at the “Korean Master Dance Series” which was held at the National Theater of Korea on Sunday.

Although she needed help even to stand still, Kong presented a passionate 10-minute performance.

“I’m so happy and glad to go on stage for the first time in five years. The thought of doing so has helped improve my health, too,” she told reporters prior to the event.

Kong said that she chose “Salpuri” which is her favorite because the dance delivers and expresses the audience’s pain.

Kong is a talented pansori singer and learned dancing from a former great, Choi Seung-hee. Her “Salpuri” dance is particularly perceived as the best.

Kong became an intangible cultural asset of South Jeolla Province last May. Some mainstream traditional artists have criticized her for not inheriting the conventional style, although she is an acclaimed performer.

“I’ve always asked myself that if I’m not a cultural asset, who is? I fulfilled my wish. I fulfilled my wish indeed,” she said.

“If I don’t die, I will come back (on stage again).”