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Changgeuk: A Changed Korean Traditional Performing Art

Nowadays, many people go to cinemas, theaters, and concert halls to enjoy cultural life, but it is sometimes hard to find a trace of Korean traditional arts. Additionally, in our deepest awareness, Korean traditional arts are perceived to be monotonous, boring and perhaps a little too old. To change these perceptions, Korean traditional arts have gradually changed and have reappeared as new forms of art. Changgeuk is one of the representative genres among these. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) now introduces Changgeuk and its typical works in order to raise Kingo’s interest in it.

Introduction to Changgeuk

Changgeuk is a Korean traditional performing art based on Pansori, which is a Korean traditional narrative song. As foreign plays started to attract larger audiences and indoor theaters were established, the demand for new performances from Korean traditional actors also increased. Therefore, new actions and popular appeal were added to Pansori, and the style changed to a dialogic style of play where two actors communicate with each other, and finally Changgeuk was created, in which more than two characters act. Unlike western performing arts which are based on artificially created stories, Changgeuk is based on traditional fairy tales. Recently, many Changgeuks which have adapted western stories like Beauty and the Beast and The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht, a German playwright, have gained in popularity.

Differences with Pansori

Left: jjan.kr / Pansori Right: premium.mk.co.kr / Changgeuk

National Changgeuk Company of Korea

The National Changgeuk Company of Korea is an organization founded in 1962 to constantly pursue preservation, standardization and popularization of traditional Changgeuk. To do so, the organization arranged the scripts for the five Pansori. Furthermore, it published various scripts for Changgeuk and translated them into English, French, and Japanese in order to make Changgeuk known to the world as a traditional performing art of Korea. Actors of the National Changgeuk Company of Korea have been continuously performing in the National Theater of Korea located in Jung-gu, Seoul.1

1) According to the official site, www.ntok.go.kr/english/

Well-renowned Work of the National Changgeuk Company of Korea

- Trojan Women

ntok.go.kr

•Performing date: 2017. 11. 22 ~ 12. 03

Trojan Women is the story of all of the Trojan women, including the queen Hecuba, who had to be taken to victorious Greece as slaves. This is based on the story of the Trojan War, which was written by Euripides, a playwright of ancient Greece. In order to bring out the beauty of Pansori itself, the performance is conducted with a ‘minimalism’ concept, removing the musically unnecessary elements and concentrating on the traditional Pansori technique. It was selected as the closing performance of the Singapore Arts Festival in September, 2017.

- Aerang And Baebijang

ntok.go.kr

Aerang And Baebijang is a comedy Changgeuk about a hypocritical nobleman called Baebijang who reveals his true character as the courtesan Aerang lures him. It is based on the traditional Pansori Baebijang Taryeong, and is performed in the form of Korean traditional Madangguk, a style of performance where actors stride down the aisles and exchange direct dialogue with the audience.

Many Kingos might still consider Changgeuk as something old that has come straight out of a museum or history textbooks. Nevertheless, it is certainly true that Changgeuk has its own attractions such as communication between actors and audience, and a combination of a western story line and a Korean style of singing. Therefore, the SKT hopes that many Kingos will go and enjoy Changgeuk, playing a part in supporting this modern interpretation of Korean traditional culture.

남윤경  dbsrud082396@gmail.com

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