Samulnori drum festival heads south to rootsThe 14th World Samulnori Competition opens today through Monday in Buyeo, Chungcheong province, about 200 kilometers south of Seoul.
Samulnori is a kinetic traditional music played on drums and cymbals and sometimes includes dancing. It started during the Three Kingdom era (4th to 7th century A.D.) as farmers’ music and became more general music for festivals and rituals. It has spread overseas recently as musicians from other traditions have been attracted to its unique and energetic beat.
Twelve foreign teams and 80 domestic teams will participate in the competition, which will be judged based on who creates the best beat.
The foreign teams include Theatre du Solei from France, Samulnori Deutschland from Germany and Swissamul from Switzerland. Other foreign troupes consist of Korean adoptees in the United States, Korean-Japanese and Korean-Chinese musicians.
The festival takes place in the afternoon and evening, and includes performances of other drumming styles as a contrast with samulnori. A highlight of the non-samulnori performances should be the Brazilian drum band Terra Brazilis. The festival will also have an exhibit of percussion instruments from around the world.
This year is the first year that the event is being held in Buyeo, so the festival will also feature rituals from the ancient Korean dynasty of Buyeo.
Previous festivals were hosted by Seoul or Gyeonggi province. However, because a well-known samulnori group called "Hanulim" runs a Samulnori school in Buyeo, the region was selected as a more appropriate venue this year. There will also be some changes to the format.
"In the past, only the competition was highlighted, but this year we will focus more on festive events,” said Kim Deok-su, the leader of Hanulim.
The annual event began in 1989 at Olympic Park in the Jamsil area of Seoul as part of government efforts to promote Korean heritage to a global audience after the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Today's opening concert is from 7 to 9 p.m. at Jeongnimsaji Temple in Buyeo. “World Drum Peace Concert” features Korean and foreign performers. For more information call (041) 832-8533 or visit the official Web site, www.samulfestival.com.
by Choi Sun-young