Undiscovered Cultural Side of Passionate Korea
Undiscovered Cultural Side of Passionate Korea
  • Reporter Kim Eun-ji
  • 승인 2009.12.09 15:42
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Nonverbal Performance Festival '2009 KOREA in MOTION DAEGU'

With just a few weeks remaining until this semester’s final examinations, two reporters from The Postech Times arranged a trip to Daegu, the place where a sensational festival was taking place. Being only an hour and a half bus drive from the destination, we decided to head to the location without hesitation.

◈ What is 2009 KOREA in MOTION DAEGU?
‘2009 KOREA in MOTION DAEGU’ is the 4th festival held annually in Daegu to promote Korean non-verbal performances not only to the citizens in Daegu, but also to the general public in Korea and international visitors to the country. This year, the festival was composed of five non-verbal performances of dance and percussion. The names of the shows were the following: Breakout, Battle B-boy, Hamlet Episode, Zemita and ZEN.
To give a glimpse of what the each show was about, a brief explanation is addressed below. Battle B-boy harmonized Korean traditional music and an oriental style stage with Western hip-hop and b-boy dance. Hamlet Episode and ZEN were literally nonverbal performances, but the two were contrasting types of shows in that the former was recreated from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and every act was planned out, while the latter removed the boundary between the performers and the audience, a typical Korean traditional stage concept, so it was freer.
An interesting point about this event was that the tickets for foreigners were half-price. This manifests an intention to attract international visitors to demonstrate the high-quality of talent of Korean performers since it was an appropriate event that overcame nationality and language barriers.

◈ The Breakout

▲ One of the B-boys showing extreme moves in the performance 'Breakout'
The opening performance of the festival, Breakout, was the one of the shows that we watched. Overwhelmingly loud and thumping sounds ringing as we stepped into the Kyongpook National University concert hall made us assured that we were at the right place. I researched a little about this extreme dance comedy show prior to arrival and knew that it made a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007, the largest performing arts festival in the world, which is moving towards being in line with London’s West End and Broadway. Rather excited while waiting for the show, I looked around the audience and saw that there were many groups of families with kids and happy looking couples.
The comedy began as a mysterious book landed in a prison from the sky. Suddenly the five prisoners felt the urge to be freed and a heart-racing dance started. Many times during their hilarious escape the crowd burst into tears because of their comical actions. The most memorable part was at the final scene where their passion for dancing exploded and they showed a splendid mixture of b-boy, break dance, acrobatics and breathtaking beatboxing.

◈ Zemita

▲ Members of Zemita during photo time
We hurriedly went to the theatre exactly on time and there we found the theatre full of an excitedly waiting audience as we sat among the very few remaining seats at the back row. Here and there I could see groups of foreigners from whom I had chances to get feedback at the end of the show.
Zemita, the theatrical and percussion instrumental performance group, began their show with the storyline of a character named ‘Hammer’ breaking some tools in the Rhythm Production factory. While the other three members tried to repair the tools with equipment such as electric drills and jack hammers, they made interesting sounds.
There was almost no proper object making sound that was an instrument. They used farfetched tools such as   garbage bins, large water bottles and kitchen appliances. The performers hammered on to the recycling objects half-madly and half-wildly and babbled without making sense, but all could feel the rhythm and move their bodies according to the beat. The rapid and mind-blowing movement of hands was another exciting point to observe.
The performance was very enjoyable to the audience since the characters induced crowd participation by inserting us into the plot itself so that the story could not proceed without our active cooperation.
After their exhilarating performance I went to ask a few foreign spectators about their views of the show. A Daegu resident who is from the U.S commented, “I loved the part where the performers made Korean instant noodles and fed two volunteers from the audience. The interaction with the public was something that was very good to watch.” Also, a group of girls from Russia giggled their way out of the theatre, saying that one of the muscular male characters was very attractive and that the comedy part was excellent.

◈ Why we selected this festival
The shows that we watched were only two examples of Korean non-verbal acts. This festival included b-boy moves and Korean percussion instrumental performances, which are the front runners of the rapidly expanding area where teams from Korea receive attention in the world performance market. Cultural displays that you do not necessarily understand can sometimes be boring. The different side of Korean cultural shows that I have suggested above, however, can turn out to be highly entertaining. During this winter holiday, why don’t you go and watch a dynamic and vibrant non-verbal act yourself?

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