‘Joseon Beauty Pageant’ highlights traditional Korean music

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Jan 9, 2018 - 14:49
  • Updated : Jan 9, 2018 - 14:49

Period drama “Joseon Beauty Pageant” broke barriers between old and new last weekend by highlighting gugak, or traditional Korean music.

The two-episode TV drama, which aired Saturday and Sunday on KBS, centered on participants of a Joseon-era beauty contest, who find love and achieve their dreams.

The series was well-received by viewers, contrary to initial concerns that young viewers might find gugak too unfamiliar. Many left positive comments on social media and the broadcasting station’s website, saying that the show had helped them appreciate gugak. 

The poster of “Joseon Beauty Pageant” (KBS)

The soundtrack of the drama featured a mix of traditional and modern Korean music.

While showcasing traditional Korean tunes and rhythms, the songs also featured characteristics of pop music in their tempo, lyrics and structures.

Meanwhile, the cast was also a collaboration between old and new.

K-pop act Pentagon’s Yeo One and pansori vocalist Kim Na-ni played lead characters, with rising stars from traditional Korean music and the dance industry in supporting roles.

Masters of traditional Korean music also participated in the production, filling the roles of writer, art director, composer and choreographer.

Though it was a two-episode drama, its production process was not simple. The script was written over a three-year period and the actual production took seven months.

According to the drama’s staff, the production had taken a long time, as songs and choreography had to be added.

“When there was an edit, no matter how small it was, everything had to be done again -- a repetition of the whole process,” said a staff member.

“I wanted to break the prejudice against traditional music and dance,” producer Kim Dae-hyun said Monday. “It would be great if more content showcasing the charm of gugak could be made through this opportunity.”

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)