Enjoying Traditional Performance at Korea House

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This is the next story after having a great dinner at Korea House. We had the tickets for 20.30-21.30 show from KDIS. At the the entrance of the theater, we were greeted by two beautiful ladies wearing Hanbok, later on I realized that they were the performers of the show. MinJee, our KDIS host, told us that we’re going to watch 8 performances representing eight genres of music and dance.

After we found our seat, the lights were dimmed. The first show was entitled Reign of Peace and Prosperity. It was a very nice dance telling about the footsteps of the traditional Korean music and dance, performed for the peace and prosperity of Korea. I love to see the colorful traditional costumes: bright and distinctive!

The second show was Daegeum Sanjo and Dance. It’s Korean traditional dance featuring beautiful gesture of a woman dancer accompanied by Daegeum Sanjo solo performance. The melody and rhythm were so unique to my ears, but they’re so catchy. It started very slow rhythm and became faster, ending with a very fast rhythm and creating enthusiasm to the audience.

Next was Beauty of Incense. The dance was a visual representation of beautiful curved lines characterizing Korean culture. They were also static movements, and the running text above the stage showed “comparable to the emptiness filling a space”during the movements. And after that was Seoljanggo show. It’s a percussion show, with four men performing four Janggo (a drum shaped like an hour glass). The tradition came from farmers’ percussion activity during harvest time. And each janggo drummer plays a slightly different beat, and it was a dynamic rythm to me, but I’d rather hear Jakarta Percussion show, hahaa…not too strange to my ears.

The fifth show was Snow Flower Dance. The dance is originated from a winter scene with snow falling like flowers. The other name of the dance is Seolhwamu. I love watching beautiful dancers moving in grace and harmony. (My daughter also loves to replay the video I took with my cellphone over and over again..)

The Next show was Pansori and Dance. This dance is based on the famous love story between Chunhyang and Mongnyong, a loove between Courtesan’s daughter and Government official’s son. That is a work of Pansori inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. I love the lady singer voice: beautiful and powerful. She reminded me of Javanese dalang with a voice quality of a sinden, a traditional Javanese singer. What I don’t really like is the ending part when Mongyong pulled Chunhyang’s ribbon of her hanbook and started to kiss her as a sign for their first night make love, ewww…not a romantic scene to me since the movement should be slow and gentle, not like somebody’s going to rape a virgin hahaha..

The seventh show was Arirang Concerto, Gayageum’s rich style with arirang’s melody. Arirang has been registered as an UNESCO Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012. And yes I think it was such a beautiful piece of music. The performance seems like taking me somewhere peaceful in the world…so grandeur (you know when I returned to my hotel after the show, I downloaded Arirang song and started singing along …”Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo…Arirang gogaero neomeoganda.Nareul beorigo gashineun nimeunShimrido motgaseo balbyeongnanda”….what a feeling!) 🙂 🙂

OK now let me just finish up this writing with  the last performance : a dance troupe called Drum Dance with Pungmulnori. The performance was exciting drum dance nicely combined with the traditional Pungmul-nori consisting of Janggo (drum shaped like an hourglass), Buk (drum), Jing (large gong), and small gong (Kkwaenggwari). All I can say about this troupe: super entertaining, high energy and funny too. I like the comedy in the  show, especially the guy with the hairy hat, oh I love this act!

My impression that night was how Korean preserve their traditional culture so highly. And they were successful in blending the modern with the traditional so seamlessly. When I asked MinJee about the ticket for show, she mentioned 50,000.KRW per person. WOW! Thanks KDI School, another expensive treat! 😀

Dining at Korea House

I had the chance to enjoy the unique tastes of Korea by tasting traditional court cuisine in a charming atmosphere; yes, a visit to Korea House. It was a very cold evening on November 2015, and KDI School arranged our dinner there. MinJee, our escort from KDIS, told me that the traditional court cuisine of Korea House is cooked on the basis of the records contained in ancient literature. Super, right?

It was like a serial eating. 😀  It was ten ‘theme’ of serving. (I hope I didn’t make mistake with the name of the food). Here we go:

korean platter

First of, we were served with Korean Style Snacks, yummy. Then came Colorful Platter of the Nine Ingredients with Thin Crepes. I ate them all up. Next was the appetizer: Yam, Lotus Roots, Cucumber, Deodeok with Pine nut Sauce. My stomach started to full. Still, came the next was porridge and Water Kimchi. Well, the taste was strange, but I kept on eating. After that was Braised Mushroom in Sweet Pumpkin, and I started to think: so Korean think that Halal food means vegetarian menu? Anyway, I successfully finished that dish. Then next was Stuffed Mushroom & Bean Curd (Tofu) followed by Perilla Seeds Soup with  steamed rice. There were also other side dishes  that I couldn’t remember, it’s like mixed vegetables. And last was the dessert, a pomegranate tea. That the best drink I ever had in Korea. 🙂

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What can I say: my stomach was too full. I heard that the menu costs more than 45,000 KRW per person, whoa what a price! After the spectacular dinner, we went to the theater in the next building to enjoy Korea House performance.

I will write later in full details about the show. But in short,it was most interesting with beautiful costumes and the charming dancers.The traditional dances were amazing and the traditional musical instruments played were unique. There was a overhead projection to explain the performance in English so we could understand the whole show.

What a nice place to enjoy and get a sense of the Korean culture. Kamsahamnida,  KDI School! 🙂

 

Enjoying the Famous Cooking Show “NANTA”

After visiting Insadong with GDLN Blended-Learning buddies on Sunday afternoon, we went to Myeong-dong to watch Nanta performance. Jennifer, the KDI School escort, told us that Nanta is the best entertaining performance with high energy, infectious rhythm and non-verbal humors, that all ages and all nations can easily enjoy it. NANTA has been running since October 10, 1997 and is the most popular show ever in Korea. The show is based on Korea’s traditional garak (rhythms) of Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion quartet). It also has achieved outstanding international success for having performed on Broadway and toured widely around the US and the rest of the world (more than 33,000 shows in 289 cities, 51 countries!) It receives rave reviews wherever it performs and quickly sells out.

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Nanta means cooking. There are five performers; all use knives and many kitchen utensils as musical instruments (very rhythmical banging of knives, pots and pans), with real ingredients like vegetables and fruits. From the beginning, we were informed that we’re not allowed to take pictures or record the show. That makes sense, we wouldn’t enjoy the show much if we were too busy documenting the show. 🙂

The show tells the story of three crazy chefs (a head chef, a sexy male chef and one very sexy female chef 😀 ) who have been set the impossible task by the Manager to make a wedding banquet in just one hour, along with his little nephew to be involved as a chef. What follows is pure musical mayhem: the four chefs become wild as they chop, beat, and stir to meet the deadline, and they even manage to fit in a love story between sexy chef and female chef. In the end, the Nanta chefs can complete the preparation on time.

On some parts I felt sleepy, probably because I was just too tired. But it was quite entertaining, especially when there were ”flying objects” towards the audience as the chefs chopped the vegetables. And the comedy was universal, as if I watched Srimulat show in my country. I liked the part when they invited two audience to the stage and involved them as the bride and the groom to be, so funny. No wonder this good vibes can have more than 11 millions spectators.

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To get to Nanta theatre in Myeong-dong, we took our KDIS bus (or I could take Seoul Subway Line 2, Euljiro 1-ga and choose Exit 6) to Myeong-dong. Then we walked straight for 220m and turned left onto Myeongdong gil. The theatre (Unesco Building) is 120m ahead on the right, with a very small sign that was not so noticeable for a new comer like me. The ticket price was 40,000 KRW, quite expensive for me, thank you KDIS for the treat. 🙂

All in all, it was such a rare and unforgettable experience I’ve ever had in Korea.