London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Mask dance and K-pop covers at the Kingston Korean Festival

During the Olympics, the Korean Tourism Organisation has been sponsoring a K-pop vocal and dance workshop in Chelsea Town Hall. The results were on show today at the 15th annual Korean Festival organised by the Korean Residents Society.

A talchum mask decorates one of the tents
A talchum mask decorates one of the tents at the festival

I think I managed to miss all the traditional performances this year – the otherwise informative programme of events failed to mention what was happening when – and instead caught some K-pop cover performances by Hanuri Crew, some tuneful western songs from Park Jun-ho (including Heroes, in honour of the war veterans present), and then the K-pop class coached by K-pop directors Kim Song-sik and Choi Ki-wang.

The KTO-trained K-pop team cover SNSD’s Gee

Hanuri Crew were bang up to date with their dance covers: their set included BoA’s Only One (released last month) and Psy’s current internet hit Gangnam Style. They had Psy’s horse-riding dance down to a T. The graduates from the K-pop class understandably had been rehearsing slightly less up-to-the-minute tracks including Girls Generation’s Gee and Twinkle plus 2NE1’s I don’t care. They were a very popular act with the audience.

Teuk Gong Moo Sool
Some of the moves in Teuk Gong Moo Sool don’t look very gentlemanly

In between there was a demonstration by young students of Korea’s latest martial art: Teuk Gong Moo Sool (특공무술 – literally “Special Force Martial Art”). This is a particularly brutal art, which aims at “the rapid interdiction and submission of an opponent”. According to the current Wikipedia article it was developed to aid South Korean special forces after a North Korean agent managed to give three South Korean commandos a thrashing using a North Korean martial art.

Mask painting workshop
A mask painting workshop courtesy of the Dong San Mask Dance troupe and Theatre 4 All

More genteel entertainments were available. There were the usual food stalls and bouncy castles, plus some face-mask painting. I was sorry to have missed Theatre 4 All’s Bong San Mask Dance performance: they have been active in the past few weeks supporting the Olympic torch relay and other community events in Kingston, producing a very visible face of the Korean community.

Dong Sang Mask Dance performance
The Dong Sang Mask Dance performance at Kingston Cranbury Gardens on 4 August (Photo credit: Theatre 4 All)

We were lucky with the weather this year, but regardless of the weather the day is always a fun family event for both Koreans and westerners. Thanks to the Korean Residents Society and many sponsors for making it happen.

The unfortunate typo in the advance publicity and on some of the banners had been corrected for the main stage
The unfortunate typo in the advance publicity and on some of the banners had been corrected for the main stage

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