London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

London Korean Festival: V+A Korean day

As part of Think Korea 2006 and the London Korean Festival the Victoria and Albert Museum hosts an afternoon of Korean culture featuring the musical Oh, Youran and percussive entertainment from Dulsori. As part of the day there will be gallery talks in the V+A’s Samsung Korea Gallery.

Korean Day at the V+A

Date: 27 May 2006 from 3pm
Venue: Victoria & Albert Museum

V+A Korea Day graphic

Oh, Youran

Kisaeng (Entertainer) Youran, a woman with wit and tact and Sunbee (Nobleman) Yi Saeng, a man with a pure heart bring you to real Korean romantic comedy.

There are two close friends in Hanyang, the old name of Seoul. Both of them are prime ministers and have sons with same age. Their sons, Kim Saeng and Yi Saeng are also very close friends like their fathers. They grow up and take the examination, but only Kim Saeng passes examination to become the governor of Pyongyang . Yi Saeng leaves to Pyongyang to concentrate on study with Kim.

When Kim arrives at Pyongyang , he has a luxurious inauguration. However, Yi criticizes Kim and asserts the duty of a public servant.

Kim makes a plan with Oh, Youran to make a game of Yi and Yi always concentrates on studying.

Yi falls in love with Oh, Youran and they get married secretly.

One day Yi hears the news that his father is dangerously ill and leaves to Hanyang quickly without telling Youran..

On his way to Hanyang, he receives the letter that his father recovers from his illness. Yi comes back to Pyongyang . He meets the Pungmul performance and singing the song of a good harvest.

Yi finds Youran’s gave and hears from farmers that she killed herself reproaching Yi Saeng and sobs. Yi arrives at Pyongyang and reunions a ghost of Youran at midnight .

They confirm their deep love. Yi wants to die to be with Youran becoming a ghost.

Youran prays to make him to be a ghost. A simple funeral ceremony of Yi Saeng is hold.

Two invisible ghosts go to the governor of Pyongyang naked.

Yi Saeng is disgraced in public and gets to know Kim and Youran have cheated him.

Yi gets away to Hanyang.

Yi passes the examination to be a royal secret commissioner and appears to a Pyongyang local government. Yi startles Kim and Youran who plead innocence. Finally three of them confirm their friendship and love.


Dulsori (literally ‘wild beat’) brings you such an experience of overwhelming togetherness. Dulsori ‘s performance taps into intrinsic human emotions of hatred, fear and fury and translates them into a highly amazing energy. Through singing and dancing along with the powerful sound of drum, the show warms your heart filling it with joy. Dulsori will let you experience the true fever of the ancient festival.


Knocking on the Heaven with the joyous voice…

Dulsori delivers this fascinating performance – Binari . Dulsori ‘s latest production, Binari emphasizes more on the performance side and enhances a strong musical quality compared to Joy mingled together with a post-show banquet appearing both the performers and the audience. The most definite feature of Binari is an introduction of a ‘singing’ element which makes an interesting and colorful show.

Origin of BINARI

Literally Binari is a word that implies ‘wishing’ or ‘praying’ to a supernatural being. In the Korean traditional music scene, Binari is often regarded as a song and played with other various repertories. Dulsori adds its own color to this ancient theme imitating the natural sound of rain and wind, thunder and lightening through powerful percussion play.

Musical instruments

Korean traditional rhythmic percussion:

  • Kkwaenggari (small gong): It is very effective in stimulating and exciting the listeners with its rhythm.
  • Jing (large gong): Jing may be characterized as having the most embracing sound of all of the instruments in Pungmul
  • Buk (barrel-shaped drum): Buk ‘s main role is not to play a small variety of rhythms, but to play main beats with power and passion by expanding its spirit through powerful dances.
  • Janggu (hourglass-shaped drum): Since the performer can use his/her hands as well as sticks, various sounds and tempo-deep and full, soft and tender, menacing sounds, and fast and slow beats – can be created to suit various moods of the audience.

Dulsori melodic percussion

  • Wooden ball (wood blocks in a Buddhist temple)
  • Ceramic ball (an earthenware jar covers)

“Their pace never lets up. It’s a gripping performance of delicious percussion, crashing drums and rabble-rousing vocals.” The Guardian

The performers revive the ancient ritual that used to be held at the beginning of the festival celebrating the forces of nature and praying for a delightful and exciting festival.

The origin: Opening drum expresses the primordial gesture from the birth of archaic man. It symbolizes the principle of the universe and the conjunction of yin and yang. Purifying and curing of the ‘anima’ is originated from beautiful sounds

Invoke: A fragment of the vocal part penetrates into the bottom of one’s soul(or spirit), then leads it to participate in the divine fete that overflows with the gaiety of the mystery of life. The temperate solo of big drum, low-sounded gong and the tiny bell become harmonized with the Nature as it is.

Divertimento: Each percussion is whispering and shouting with another, and then sounds are transformed into the shape. They will disperse in four directions touching and echoing around spaces.

Binari: The celebrating song, Binari is born to be a new type of rhythm and becomes the passionate medium. Wishing one’s fortune and a good harvest for the year, it could be a spellbound song that symbolizes the divinity of fete. At the same time it is the work-song in our daily lives.

Fete: Binari ‘s rhythm inspires those who are engaged here, gives us the fully integrated enthusiasm through the cacophony and well-tempered tune. The sound of the drums drives everyone to the climax of the fete together with the profane voice and the sacred sound.

Plaza: All drums and uniquely modernized instruments are featuring in the play of “Plaza.” It reminds us of our childhood with gentle rhythm. Finally, playing music becomes the joyful game. Every player produces a childlike expression and is unified together. At last, all crews break through the apex and then the body and soul become one in our imaginary fete.

2. Joy

Joy rejuvenates the ancient festival. Joy intends to show the audience the way to free themselves from smothered everyday life and express vitality from deep within their heart – like that of players in the ancient festival. To us, the very essence of the festival is a joy itself. ‘The state of mythic chaos’ that creates a whole new energy is the ‘Joy’ that Dulsori dreams of. Throughout the performance, the performers constantly entice the audience to join their festival with the powerful sound of drums and dynamic rhythms.

Origin of Joy

In conveying the authentic festive mood, Joy chose P’ungmul as its musical medium. P’ungmul (or P’ungmulgut) is a form of communal play that incorporates percussive music and drama. In fact, it is one of the oldest Korean traditions of religious play and of group ritual, which began with the agricultural life style in the early days. Through dancing and playing in P’ungmul, people can relieve hardships in life and realize the communal goal.

The idea of relieving hardship through group play and transforming the collective energy into the whole new energy is what makes P’ungmul a medium of a healthy community even in this modern, industrialized society. With the overwhelming percussion sound and play, the modern-day version of primitive festival is recreated in an irresistible way.

Joy is an interactive performance with dynamic percussion and a ritual ceremony of Jangseung (traditional primitive sculpture) and intends to create intimacy between the audience and the performers.

Jangseungje: Jangseung is a totem-pole regarded as a guardian god of each village ever since pre-historic times. Jangseungje begins with a ritual ceremony to ensure constant peace and prosperity.

Percussion Ensemble: Dignified Daebuk (big drum) starts beating. Little by little the sound enlarges; the extraordinary resonance touches the sky, landscape, and the heart of people. When people notice latent vitality of the sound, Daebuk is replaced with Modembuk (middle size drum sets) and the resonance goes powerful and lighthearted.

Interwoven with life: The music reminds people of their childhood. The audience and the performers share the stage playing games together. More and more people are encouraged to come up to the stage and share the energy with the performers.

Off-stage “banquet”: There will be more to inspire you after the performance.

“Performers intermingle with their audience to the marvelous drum sounds. The whole venue switched to a special off-stage banquet.” Hankyoreh times

“There is enthusiastic percussion and spiritual singing plus a totem pole ceremony in a contemporary style. The performance catches the audience heart and soul.” Topnews


Dulsori (literally ‘wild beat’) was formed in 1984 to preserve and promote the Korean traditional art forms in a contemporary context. This energetic and passionate troupe has staged hundreds of international performances and recently toured Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Israel, Africa and across Europe. We also conduct workshops, classes and camps on Korean traditional arts and are open to all age groups.

“We aim to break the barriers between the players and the audience in staging our performances,” says Moon Kap-Hyun, director of Dulsori . “People, particularly urbanites, tend to long for the state of nature, and we want to quench their thirst for it.” A vigorously pulsating production, Dulsori ‘s passionate and colorful performance showcases the traditional and spiritual heritage of Korean culture.

“Truly, your group represents everything that I love about Korea. A love for nature, true artistic expression, reverence for the spiritual, celebration and the finding of one’s inner peace. I also appreciate the way you use what modern culture has to offer to show off Korea’s traditions.” Terressa, Canada

Dulsori activities

Workshop, class and camp of Korean arts and culture

  • Percussion
  • Singing & Dancing
  • Flag Making
  • Jangseung pole Carving
  • Games and story telling
  • Group Play

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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