Traditional performances aplenty

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Traditional performances aplenty


The National Folk Museum of Korea inside Gyeongbok Palace will present many traditional shows. Provided by the museum

For those who want to see how Koreans celebrate Chuseok, or used to celebrate it in years gone by, there are traditional events taking place around town, and many of them are free.

A lot of these displays take place outside the city’s renowned theaters, but you don’t need to watch a show to take part in the frivolities. At Chongdong Theater, in Jung District, central Seoul, from Wednesday to Sept. 20, free shows and displays will take place in the Ssamji courtyard in the theater’s complex. One of the highlights includes origami sessions presented by the Paper Culture Foundation. Experts will guide participants on how to make Chuseok-themed paper crafts. There are two 40-minute sessions a day starting at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. outside the lobby.

The National Folk Museum of Korea will also do its bit to promote Korean culture. The museum will host more than 30 displays and performances, not to mention free tastings of traditional Chuseok food. Festivities will get under way starting Wednesday.

To emphasize the importance of family, the museum will put on a singing contest for family groups of four. The catch is that there must be three generations in the group or it must be a multicultural family. The folk song “Arirang,” or an equivalent from another country, must be sung and there are prizes given to the top teams. For foodies, there will be tastings for songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice balls) and gabeju, a traditional liquor drank during Chuseok. Children and adults alike will have their hands full putting together some traditional crafts from masks, origami and the like. While some of these events are free, some do have a small fee and places are limited, so it’s best to book ahead through the museum’s Web site at or call ahead. The museum is inside Gyeongbok Palace, central Seoul.

For the third year in a row, the National Gugak Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, is holding free concerts at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19 and the next day. This year, the showcase is “Nanjang Tteuda,” which translates to “the marketplace is open.” There will be a medley of musical and theatrical performances reminiscent of days gone by when plays were performed at traditional marketplaces. And of course there will be gugak (Korean classical music) aplenty as traditional percussion performances of gongs, drums and dances will take place over two days.

And because no Chuseok celebration would be complete without it, ganggangsullae, a traditional circle dance show, will take place. In 2009, Unesco placed the dance on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The quintessential Chuseok dance is performed under a full moon, and the whole village can participate.

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