The beat generation gives its take on Nanta

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The beat generation gives its take on Nanta

The band borrowed its name from the famous non-verbal performance Nanta, which features actors using various kitchen items as percussion instruments. The original Nanta was inspired by a Korean form of percussion music known as samulnori. Since its debut in 1997, Nanta’s popularity led to performances overseas, including Broadway last year, and the group now has a home theater in Jeongdong, central Seoul.
The members of 6070 Nanta, however, are farmers from Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang province, who gather peppers and sesame during the day and practice at night for the performance. They have been rehearsing the act for months. “I can’t concentrate on my farmwork, because we’re facing a big performance,” said Kim Ok-sun, 71, one of the performers.
Similar to the original Nanta, the 6070 Nanta uses seemingly everyday items as instruments. A plastic box and an oil can became a bass drum and a janggu, a Korean hourglass drum. Plastic water bottles, a brass basin and an aluminum wheel from a car were turned into surprisingly melodic instruments. The instruments mix unique sounds with metallic elements.
In the group’s performance at Tumen city in China this Friday, the band will also present a short play, sing the North Korean song, “Nice To Meet You,” and the Korean traditional nursery song, “My Hometown Where I Lived.”
Organized in September 2002 by Jun Jae-su, 74, a former member of a municipal assembly of Gimcheon city, the members of the group met at Gimcheon Elders’ University. Mr. Jun, who since 1995 had taught a course there on healthcare for the aged, thought that playing instruments would help his students maintain their health.
Based on his experience in a military band, Mr. Jun organized the band around percussion instruments. Due to limited financial resources, he decided to make the instruments out of junk.
Starting with 40 members from a class at the university, the band had difficulty finding a place to practice because it the thunderous noise it produced. When it practiced outside, the instruments, which were left covered with vinyl, were thrown away by a janitor who mistook them for garbage.
The group’s brilliant and skilled performances soon earned it renown, and the band performed over 20 times around the nation. Gimcheon city finally heard of the band’s reputation, and in August last year offered to let it use the city’s cultural center for rehearsals.


by Hong Kwon-sam
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