Royal Culture Festival flourishes on and offline
The biannual Royal Culture Festival that invites the public to learn and experience Korea’s royal palaces kicked off on Oct. 15. Contrary to the organizers’ concerns that the pandemic may take away the festive atmosphere with many of its programs going online, the latest edition of the festival has been enjoyed by more people, even attracting those in the MZ generation (millennials and Gen Z), “who have been indifferent to Korea’s royal culture,” according to Joo Jay-youn, the artistic director of the event.
The Cultural Heritage Administration’s Royal Palaces and Tombs Center and the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation — the co-organizers of the festival — said that the fall edition of this year's 7th Royal Culture Festival has been spreading by word of mouth among the younger Korean generation thanks to its witty and lively online programs.
The program allows participants to help draw a character in one of Korea’s genre paintings by Joseon-era artist Kim Hong-do (1745-?).
“If you look closely at each character depicted in Kim Hong-do’s ‘Album of Genre Paintings,’ you will be surprised by how diverse their facial expressions are,” explained Choi. “This program allows participants to become more interested in Joseon-era (1392-1910) painters and their works and different events that are depicted in Korea’s genre paintings.”
There are nine online and two offline programs for the fall edition of this year’s Royal Culture Festival.
The festival’s signature performance "Gyeonghoeru Fantasy — Royal Lotus Flower,” a media art and pansori (traditional narrative singing) show performed at Gyeonghoeru Pavilion inside Gyeongbok Palace, has also gone online. The performance was aired every evening on the festival’s YouTube every evening until Oct. 22. Two more performances will become available, broadcast at 11 a.m. on Oct. 28 via KBS, and again on YouTube at 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 to close the festival.
Another popular online program, according to Joo, is “Royal Culture Festival: Delivered to your doorstep” for at-home attendees.
For previous festivals, participants received a D.I.Y crafts kit that allowed them to make Joseon’s royal lanterns and a royal jewelry box using hanji (Korean traditional paper). But this time, the organizers have created a new board game based on the traditional board game known as yutnori.
“This is not the typical yutonori we play today,” said Joo. “Participants have to follow the exact rules that were used during the Joseon Dynasty.”
On Oct. 18, a total of 500 board games became available for participants to claim online and were gone within five minutes, according to the organizers.
“One participant who said she’s never failed in getting her hands on a BTS concert ticket because she’s so fast at making reservations online, jokingly complained that she couldn’t become one of the 500 people to receive the board game,” said Joo. “Popularity is really heating up for the festival’s online programs.”
Before Covid-19, the festival was held at Korea’s five palaces from the Joseon Dynasty as well as the Jongmyo Shrine. This time, the only offline programs are an exhibition introducing various cultural products from different regions of the country, and a tour of the palace’s archives. Both programs are being held at Gyeongbok Palace.
An exhibition titled “Daedongyejido” was available until last week at Gyeongbok Palace. “Daedongyejido” is a made-up word based on the word “Daedongyeojido,” the name of a famous map from the Joseon Dynasty, but "yeo" is replaced with "ye," which means art.
Seven makeshift outdoor exhibition halls were set up around the palace to introduce cultural heritage items or specialties representing seven provincial cities, such as hanji from Wonju, natural dyeing culture from Naju, craftwork and artwork using bamboo from Damyang, green tea from Boseong and porcelain from Icheon.
“The local governments also wanted to participate in the festival so we decided to introduce various cultural heritages from different regions,” said Yoo Kwan-sook, the exhibition's director.
Yoo said that many of the exhibition halls were organized to be used as photo spots by visitors so that they can upload the photos on their social media and spread the beauty of Korea’s cultural heritage online.
One of the most popular booths was “Flower Rain,” an installation work made using colorful hanji that had been turned into flowers. A tunnel made up of about 1,500 colorful lanterns and silk shades from Jinju was also a popular photo spot, according to Yoo.
"We decided to work with the local government this time as many local festivals have been canceled because of the pandemic, which is so sad,” said Yoo. "So we hope people residing in Seoul can experience unique culture from provincial areas through this exhibition."
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [email@example.com]