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Jung Kuho immerses himself in dance and traditional Korean art

Jung Kuho immerses himself in dance and traditional Korean art

Celebrated fashion designer stages ‘Mookhyang’ with the National Dance Company of Korea

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Published : 2013-12-03 19:30
Updated : 2013-12-03 19:31

A promotional image of the National Dance Company of Korea’s “Mookhyang,” the troupe’s collaborative project with fashion designer Jung Kuho. (The National Dance Company of Korea)

Celebrated fashion designer Jung Kuho is no stranger to dance performances, having directed a number of pieces in collaboration with the nation’s top troupes.

Jung, who abruptly announced last month his departure from his 10-year position as executive director at Cheil Industries, which acquired his brand KUHO in 2003, is directing a dance piece for the third time. Under Jung’s leadership, the label’s sales have increased 13-fold over the past decade.

Jung’s departure came about two months after Cheil Industries, an apparel maker affiliated with Samsung Group, announced it will transfer its fashion business to Samsung Everland in September.

The upcoming performance, titled “Mookhyang,” or “Scent of Ink,” is Jung’s second collaboration with the National Dance Company of Korea, a group that specializes in traditional Korean dance.

It is inspired by Korean traditional ink painting and pays special attention to the “four noble ones,” the four plants that are believed to epitomize Korea’s Confucian aesthetics: bamboo, the chrysanthemum, the plum blossom and the orchid. The four were praised for their beauty and resilience, and were often painted by artists during the Joseon period.

The dancers will be wearing hanbok designed by Jung and dancing to traditional Korean music. The fashion designer has designed hanbok dresses in the past, notably for filmmaker Jang Yoon-hyun’s “Hwang Jin Yi,” a 2007 biopic on the famous Joseon courtesan.

The fashion designer won the best costume award at the Grand Bell Awards in 2008 for his design work for the movie.

Jung Kuho, former executive director of fashion brand KUHO
For “Hwang Jin Yi,” Jung used dark colors including dark green and black for the costumes, which is unusual in hanbok design. The dresses also boast simple lines, which make them much more modern than conventional hanbok.

For the upcoming performance, Jung is said to have designed hanbok dresses that aim to be both “modern and traditional, and sophisticated.” He got rid of the hanbok’s coat-strings and made the skirts more bell-shaped, so that they billow out much like an old-time hoop skirt.

For both costumes and stage, Jung is to use white, gray, black and a bit of pink, yellow and green.

The first dance piece Jung was involved with as a director was the Korean National Ballet’s 2012 modern ballet “Poise.” Earlier this year, he directed the National Dance Company of Korea’s “Altar,” which dealt with themes of the East and the concept of shared and imagined Koreanness.

“Mookhyang” runs from Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114 or visit

By Claire Lee (

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