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Free-spirited pungmul trouper, Park Hui-jeong
Kong Jun-wan Reporter  |
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[0호] 승인 2006.06.22  
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Recently made popular historical films such as “ Scandal”and “King and the Clown” and the TV series “Gung” has helped the public become familiar with traditional Korean beauty. However, the aesthetics of traditional musical performances such as pungmul, traditional performance of a satirical drama and music, samulnori, Korean traditional percussion quartet, madanggeuk, tradi -ional play, remain unrecognized.

Park Hui-jeong, a graduate of the University of Seoul with a degree in International Trade, 45, is the founder and director of Pungmulnori Salpan, an organization of eieght pungmul troupers. Some pungmul instruments are changgu (an hourglass-shaped drum), buk (Korean style-drum), jing (gong), ggwanggari (small gong) and napal (Korean-style trumpet).

Since its foundation, the organization has experimented with uniting various traditional acts such as pungmul, gut (Korean-style shaman performance), talchum (Korean mask dance), and music. It had several performances including “Barameul Tago Naneun Saeya” ( translated as birds flying through wind) from 1998 to 2005 on and off and “Simsimpuli,”(killing time) in 2001.

“Pungmul used to be an act that everybody enjoyed. I’m trying to make it once again a performance all generations can enjoy by adding stories pertinent to contemporary Koreans such as an office worker who got laid off,” Mr. Park said. As Mr. Park claims, pungmul is a very flexible performance by nature.

It has a general storyline, but the details in the story are made through interaction with the audience. For example, Mr. Park initiates a talk to the audience and a play for the audience’s wishes on stage. What’s more, he seeks flexibility in performers as well.

In his troupe’s performance, no one is assigned to a single instrument. Rather, everyone knows how to deal with all instruments so that any performer could switch an instrument from one performance to another. “Pungmul is an activity that should interest performers as well as the audience.

I want to make it more relaxed and flexible,” Mr. Park said. “I also play a different instrument depending on the mood and whom I collaborate with.” Traditionally, pungmul has been a satirical performance to mock the corrupt rulers and unjust social institutions.

It was no exception in the 80s when Jeon Du-hwan’s regime usurped the Korean government through a military coup and oppressed the rights of Korean people and students in order to preserve his power.

Mr. Park is one of the university students who protested against the government at that time. When he went to sit-in protest sites in school, there was always a pungmul performance mocking corrupt former President Jeon. He helped around troupers and eventually become involved in the pungmul club. University years determine your later life. For Park Hui-jeong, it was pungmul club activity that changed the course of his life.

He said as he got older, he is more and more satisfied with his vocation. “Many friends of mine now have lost their jobs but I can go around playing an instrument, which I like very much, without worries of getting laid-off.” That’s why he wants students to be more open-minded and ambitious. “These days, students are too narrow-minded.

They should try to find something that they really enjoy.” His troupe is scheduled to have another performance “Barameul Tago Naneun Saeya,” this autumn in Pungmulgutpae branch office in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi province. For more information, visit
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