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Wednesday,August 21,2019
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Next Destination- National Theater of Korea

   
 
  The National Theater of Korea was  founded in 1950 and the current theater complex in Jangchung-dong was established in 1973. Major facilities at the theater include Haeorum Theater (Main Hall), Daloreum Theater (Small Theater) and an outdoor theater of Norimadang.  
 
National Theater of Korea is probably not a friendly place for most university students to spend their free time in. Many of their shows require a deep understanding in traditional performances such as chang, a Korean traditional narrative song, and ballet, one of the most difficult forms of dance to understand. Besides from the difficulty in comprehending the performances, there is also the problem of the high cost of tickets that ordinary college students cannot afford. It is quite burdensome for them to purchase tickets that are three to four times more expensive than movie tickets. Therefore there have not been many chances for universities to fully enjoy the performances done at the National Theater of Korea.

However, last year in December, Dongguk University and the National Theater of Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with an intention of providing less costly tickets to the Dongguk University students and helping them to be friendlier with Korean traditional performances such as chang and gukak, Korean classical music. In addition to the ticket discount, the National Theater of Korea agreed to provide internships to the students of Theater major in order to give them first-hand experience with stages and performances done on a national-scale. The Theater, in return, receives great promotional opportunity amongst students and the younger generation. Kim Bong-ju, the head of the administration office of the College of Arts, said, “This is a great opportunity for students to watch performances that they usually cannot enjoy. The quality of performances done in the National Theater of Korea is the best among all the other theaters nation-wide. Dongguk University is in the perfect location to culturally benefit from the Theater and this year, students will be more exposed to the world of classical art and music.”

Through the MOU, students receive 50 percent discount of every ticket of “National Repertoire Season,” which began in September, 2012, with the eight national art companies that represent Korean traditional art. The eight representative companies are the Korean National Opera, the National Ballet, The National Chorus of Korea, the Korean Symphony Orchestra, the National Theater Company of Korea, the National Changguk of Korea, the Korea National Dance Company, and the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. Each company performs their performances during the Repertoire Season and for June, four companies are putting up the performances.

< Ballet with Commentary>

   
 
   
 
On June 18th, the Korea National Ballet is putting on “Ballet with Commentary” that was selected as the most popular show of this year. Ballet is a form of dance with no words, and students find it difficult to understand the emotion behind the moves. The audiences can understand the dances better with commentary made by the professional commentators who talk about the backgrounds of the dances and reasons for song selection. The series has been on-going since January, 2013 and each month a different type of ballet has been held, including a Romantic Ballet, a Classical Ballet, and an All-star Gala. The upcoming performance in June is called “Creative Project” ,where modern and traditional ballet is adequately mixed with creativity.” The performance is 70 minutes long and the ticket costs 20,000 won.

<Dear, Nongae>

   
 
   
 
From June 13th to 16th, the Korea National Dance Company performs “Dear, Nongae”, which is a story about Nongae, a patriotic woman prostitute of Chosun Dynasty in 15th and 16th century, who bravely drowned with a Japanese general during the Japanese Invasion of Korea. The traditional dance expresses the love Nongae had for her own country and men who fell in love with her. It is interpreted in a modern sense and “Dear, Nongae” has become the most famous performance the Korea National Dance Company has ever put on. This year’s performance drew much attention from media with famous performers such as Jang Yun-na and Jang Hyun-soo. The show lasts for 100 minutes and the costs of tickets vary from 70,000 won for VIP seats to 50,000, 30,000, and 20,000 won.

<Complete Performance of Pansori>

   
 
   
 
On June 22nd, National Changguk of Korea puts on a performance by Kim Sae-mi, a famous chang artist, who has dedicated her whole life to performing chang. “Complete Performance of Pansori” is done with no other instruments but buk, a Korean traditional drum, and the singer alone. Pansori is a genre of Korean traditional music that emphasizes vocal and percussional music. A complete round of pansori consists of five 'madangs', which means episodes, and it requires about three hours and thirty minutes. “Complete Performance of Pansori” has been performed by 200 master singers and attracted approximately 90,000 audiences. It is the longest living performance of the National Changguk of Korea, and has been selected by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The show is the most prestigious venue for pansori singing. All seats cost 20,000 won.

<Concert of Noon>

   
 
   
 
The Korean Symphony Orchestra puts on a performance on June 19th under the title “Concert of Noon.” Korean traditional instruments such as gayageum, a Korean zither with twelve strings, are used to play Korean traditional songs and Western songs such as Beatles’. “Changi-paranga” is one of the songs that will be performed with the gayageum, and it is a song that holds the brave spirit of Hwarang, a group of brave soldiers in the Silla Dynasty. The song sends a message to the young generation of today to have an ambitious mind like Hwarangs. The songs of Beatles, such as “Yesterday”, “Let it Be”, “ObladiOblada”, and “I want to hold your hands” are going to be played by Korean traditional string instruments. Finally, folk song singer Kim Yong-woo will participate to perform Chungsunggok, a song that emphasizes the sound of Daeguem, a large bamboo transverse flute used in traditional Korean music. The performance will last between two to three hours and all seats cost 10,000 won.

This great opportunity to learn about Korean traditional music and performances are not only intended for local students. Lee Ju-young, an executive director of National Theater of Korea, said, “Together with young university students, we also hope to attract many foreign students who have fewer opportunities than Korean students to learn about Korean culture. Dongguk University is the nearest university to the National Theater of Korea and I hope that through this MOU, all the could gain meaningful memories and remember our country for a long time.” National Theater of Korea provides a great opportunity to everyone to see a high-quality performance. Instead of watching movies at theaters like you typically do, how about a trip to National Theater of Korea to taste the Korean culture this month?

Lee So-young  soybeans@dongguk.edu

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