New venue promises more traditional music and arts

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New venue promises more traditional music and arts

When Kim Young-hwan was asked to open a center for traditional Korean performing arts, he was doubtful at first. But when the Seoul Namsan Gugakdang opened last Wednesday, his fears were quickly dispelled.
“Some of the audience were so excited that they sang along with the music,” said Kim, an official of the Sejong Center for Performing Arts
Kim added that he was delighted to see a full house for the opening show.
The aim of the project, which the Seoul city government has entrusted to the center, is to boost traditional music, dance and theater in Korea.
Namsan Gugakdang is Korean for a concert hall for traditional performance. It is located at the foot of Mount Namsan in central Seoul, and within Namsan Hanok Village.
The village is one of Seoul’s biggest tourist attractions, where visitors can see hanok, traditional Korean houses.
The opening performance last week featured pansori, a solo performance of narrative songs accompanied by the gayageum, a string instrument.
Some programs continue this week. There’s a performance of daegeum, a kind of flute, today at 7:30 p.m., followed by another tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday at 5 p.m. there will be a performance of haegum, another string instrument. On Sunday at 5 p.m. there will be a mask dance called Dongrae Yaryu which originated in Busan.
“We hope the opening of this art hall will bring traditional music and arts closer to the general public,” Kim said.
The art hall, which has an authentic traditional setting, has been specially designed to give audiences a strong sense of intimacy with the performers, Kim said. The stage is only a few feet from the audience.
The art hall is promoting its programs by offering free events such as classes at 11 a.m. every day where visitors can learn about the traditional Korean tea ceremony.

All performances stated above are offered at 20,000 won ($21) for adults and 10,000 won for teenagers and children. The Seoul Namsan Gukakdang can be reached from Chungmuro Station on subway line No. 3 or 4. Take exit 3 or 4 and go into the Namsan Hanok Village.
You can also take buses No. 263, 371, 400, 604 and 7011 and get off at the Geukdong Building Station on Toegyero 3-ga (street).
For more information, call (02) 399-1191 or visit www.sngad.or.kr (Korean service only at the moment).


By Chun Su jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]
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