3 Korean traditions given Unesco heritage status

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3 Korean traditions given Unesco heritage status


Park Yong-sun demonstrates maesanyang (traditional falcon hunting) in Daejeon. [YONHAP]

Three Korean cultural traditions - lyric songs, the artistry of wooden architecture and falconry - received world intangible heritage status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday, the world body said.

In a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, the Unesco Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage added the three Korean assets, gagok (lyric songs), daemokjang (wood craftsmanship) and maesanyang (falcon hunting), to the intangible list, it said.

“The three elements Korea submitted have been inscribed in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,” Lucia Iglesias Kuntz, a Unesco spokesperson in Paris, said over the telephone.

Heritage status for falcon hunting was shared with 10 other countries - the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Mongolia - which have developed their own falcon hunting traditions, Kuntz added.

Falcon hunting was given Unesco Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity status, which was introduced in 1997 to ensure intangible cultural assets are safeguarded from increasing industrialization and globalization.

Tuesday’s addition brings the number of Korean world intangible assets to 11, including the Royal Ancestral Ritual at the Jongmyo Shrine, which the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) carried out in ancestral memorial ceremonies, and ganggangsullae, a 5,000-year-old dance in which people joined hands in a circle and sang under the full moon during the autumn Chuseok harvest holiday.

Gagok is a type of music, accompanied by a small orchestra, that was widely used for character development in the high society of the Joseon Dynasty.

There are 26 songs for men and 15 for women.

The songs for men are characterized by strong, deep, resonant vocals, while songs for women are high-pitched and thin. Using 10-beat or 16-beat rhythms, gagok songs are often solemn or melancholic.

Daemokjang is a Korean term for woodworkers who preserve craftsmanship or build important wooden architecture, such as palaces, temples and houses for nobility.

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