Masked lions dance in traditional performance piece

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Masked lions dance in traditional performance piece


Artists perform in “Bukcheong Lion Dance,” playing at Seoul Namsan Gugakdang until April 17. Provided by Sejong Center for the Performing Arts

Director Oh Tae-suk of the Mokhwa Repertory Company has played a leading role in transforming traditional performance into modern theater. In his newest work, “Bukcheong Lion Dance,” he blends mask-dance styles from different regions of Korea. The show runs through April 17 at Seoul Namsan Gugakdang.

The show follows a young lion named Geum-hwa, who watches the human world from her mountaintop home. When she sees someone with a pair of flower shoes, she decides that she has to have a pair and transforms herself into a human so she can buy a pair. When she gets to the market, she sees a group of street performers dressed up as lions doing a lion dance. Excited, she playfully grabs the hair of Gi-seok, a dancer wearing a lion costume. Gi-seok likes her dancing so much that he wants her to join the troupe, but when the performance ends, Geum-hwa is nowhere to be found. When Gi-seok finally finds her, the two fall in love. Meanwhile, the emperor of heaven has found out that Geum-hwa changed herself into a human and sets out to punish her.

Oh borrowed from a number of dances for the world, including the Bukcheong lion dance and Bongsan mask dance from North Korea’s Hamgyeong and Hwanghae provinces, respectively, and the Yangju Byeolsandae mask dance from Gyeonggi and Ogwangdae mask dance from Gyeongsang in South Korea.

To provide the audience with a deeper understanding of these traditional dance styles, there are post-performance discussions with Oh and the actors every Friday after the 3 p.m. matinee. After the Saturday and Sunday shows, the performers will give a short demonstration in the yard in front of the theater.

Mokhwa Repertory Company will also offer a class introducing mask dances from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and a five-week mask dance workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays for the duration of the performance run. Both classes are at the theater.

*“Bukcheong Lion Dance” runs through April 17 at Seoul Namsan Gugakdang. Performances are at 8 p.m. from Tuesdays to Thursdays, at 3 and 8 p.m. on Fridays and at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. All performances are in Korean with English and Japanese subtitles. Tickets are 30,000 won ($27). Children under 3-years-old will not be admitted. The mask dance class costs 10,000 won per day and the five-week mask dance workshop costs 40,000 won. Go to Chungmuro Station, line Nos. 3 and 4, exit 3 or 4. Call (02) 2261-0514, or go to

By Lee Sun-min []
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