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National Gugak Center to launch weekly concert series

Music is nothing without its deep rich history, and in an effort to continue to keep the spirit of gugak ― traditional Korean music ― alive, the National Gugak Center will be launching a 40-week concert series to make the genre more accessible to the public.

Every Wednesday through Saturday starting March 4, the NGC will be hosting the gugak performance concert series in the center’s traditional “Pungnyu Sarangbang” theater until December.

Roughly translated to “room for the love of the arts,” Pungnyu Sarangbang is a gorgeous 130-seat theater with no speakers, relying solely on the space’s acoustics to carry the sound. 

A gugak ensemble performs. (National Gugak Center)
A gugak ensemble performs. (National Gugak Center)

“There are no mics or speakers in this theater. We want the sound of the music to be pure, so we have designed this theater to carry sound without any electronic help,” said NGC spokesperson Lee Seung-jae.

The concert hall is modeled after a traditional sarangbang, which was a room in a house where Joseon aristocrats would gather to share and appreciate the arts together.

In true time-honored fashion, Pungnyu Sarangbang requires all concert-goers to remove their shoes and sit on padded cushions on the floor.

Despite these throwback practices, the theater is the perfect environment for those looking to enjoy the sounds of gugak in its purest form. The quaint theater also allows all the guests to sit in close proximity to the stage, giving audience members the opportunity to take one step further in immersing themselves in the performances.

Whether it be through dance, music or “pansori” (traditional Korean singing through storytelling), with more than 150 shows to be scheduled, each and every show will provide audience members with the unique advantage of experiencing both the nostalgic and the revamped, modern styles of gugak. 

The National Gugak Center’s Pungnyu Sarangbang theater (National Gugak Center)
The National Gugak Center’s Pungnyu Sarangbang theater (National Gugak Center)

Every night will consist of a different musical theme. Wednesday performances will be dedicated to dance; Thursday will focus on traditional Korean instruments; Friday is all about fusion and gugak meeting new genres like waltz and tango; while every Saturday show is more of a variety show, aimed at revitalizing one’s soul with gugak sounds.

Many of the performances will also feature some of the most prominent figures in gugak including iconic pansori vocalist Ahn Sook-sun. The 65-year-old singer can be seen performing in select Thursday night concerts.

Each show runs about an hour and 20 minutes with ticket prices ranging from 10,000 won to 20,000 won. Bundle ticket packages are also available. For more information, visit

By Julie Jackson (