Royal Extravaganza Will Be Re-staged in Seoul

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Royal Extravaganza Will Be Re-staged in Seoul

A 19th century musical extravaganza that was staged at a banquet for Korea's royal family will be re-enacted Wednesday night in tribute to Kim Chang-ha, a Chosun Dynasty musician who wrote the music and songs.

Kim is being honored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as this month's cultural figure, and the Institute of Korean Traditional Culture, one of the performance group is putting on the production at the Myunye Theater in Seoul starting at 7 p.m.

A hundred Korean dancers from various traditional dance groups and musicians from the National Classical Music Institute will perform in this Jakyungjeon Nae Jinchan, which literally means "a banquet held inside the Jakyungjeon room." The room was traditionally used for royal festivities held at the Changkyung Palace in Seoul.

Kim wrote Korean traditional songs for productions and royal banquets put on by Prince Hyo-myung (1809-1830) to celebrate the 30th year of the reign of his father, King Soon-jo (1790-1834), and for the 40th birthday of his mother, Queen Soon-won (1789-1857).

The banquets followed a highly elaborate and complex ritual that included the performance of 16 kinds of music and 13 kinds of dance. True to the Korean traditions of the time, the banquets and the music emphasized the harmony and order of five artistic elements: vocal and instrumental music, dance, literature and ritual.

But the performance on Wednesday night will give only a hint of the splendor and accomplishment of the original royal productions.

"Don't expect this performance to reach the high degree of complexity encountered in the traditional royal banquets," said Yin Nam-soon, the performance organizer and president of the Institute of Korean Traditional Culture.

"It is mainly intended to pay a tribute to Kim Chang-ha, one of the musicians of the Chosun period," she said. "For Koreans, it would be a good opportunity to learn something interesting, such as court mannerisms displayed in even the simple act of serving the king and queen drinks.

"For foreigners," she said, "this occasion is a chance to witness traditional Korean rituals, dance and cuisine set against a historical background."

The event is significant in recognizing the cultural value in Korean traditions. But its future is bleak. "The main problem is that a great amount of money is necessary to stage the banquet," Ms. Yin said.

Choi Su-jong is among several actors from the Korea Broadcasting System's historical drama "Taejo Wanggun" who will appear in the Jakyungjeon Nae Jinchan.

The performance will start at 7 p.m. For more information, call the Institute of Korean Traditional Culture at 02-326-0447.

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