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National Gugak Center celebrates 60th anniversary

“Hwangap” is a Korean traditional way of celebrating one’s 60th birthday, a special occasion that marks living a full circle of 60 years and wishing for a longer, prosperous life.

The National Gugak Center, which turns 60 this year, said it plans to hold a variety of events, including performances, exhibitions and forums from April to June at the center in southern Seoul. “Gugak” refers to Korean traditional music.

An international forum, “Ancient Notations of Music and Dance,” will be the first event in which 13 scholars from Korea, China, Japan and Germany will shed light on the historical importance of music and dance notations around the world on April 7-8.

On April 8, veteran members of the National Gugak Center’s music and dance company and young gugak artists will perform together under the theme, “People are the future of gugak.”

On April 10, the birth date of the center, the Busan National Gugak Center and local arts communities will hold a festival at the Yongdusan Park in Busan, as the center was initially founded in the southern port city.

The official hwangap party will be April 12 at the center’s main theater Yeakdang in the traditional form of the Hoeryeyeon “Taepyeongjiak” of King Sejong’s reign in Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

The gugak center will also showcase representative performances such as folk opera “Chunhyangjeon” in April.

From May 27-29, more than 300 traditional Korean music artists from the National Gugak Center and its three branches in Namwon, Jindo and Busan will gather at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul to hold “Sound of the Heaven, Music of King Sejong,” a re-enactment of the Joseon royal banquet held in 1433.

From May 10 to June 26, a special exhibition will be held at the National Museum of Korea displaying Korea’s ancient musical instruments and music sheets.

By Kim Yoon-mi (