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Jongmyo Jeryeak to be performed nationwide and in Hungary, Poland

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : March 8, 2023 - 15:52

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Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center) Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center)

The National Gugak Center is scheduled to go on a nationwide tour to perform Jongmyo Jeryeak, which is royal ancestral ritual music featured at Jongmyo Shrine. The tour will be followed by an overseas tour later in the year.

The tour will start at Sejong Art Center in Yeongi-gun, Sejong City on Saturday. It will then be performed at Yeak-dang in the National Gugak Center in Seoul from June 14-16, followed by performances at the Daejeon Municipal Yeonjeong Korean Traditional Music Center on July 7. It will also be performed at the Ulsan Culture and Arts Center on July 15 and the Daegu Opera House from Sept. 1-2.

This is the first nationwide tour by National Gugak Center performing Jongmyo Jeryeak.

The large-scale 90-minute performance will feature 54 musicians and 18 dancers performing on stage.

To help audiences better understand Jongmyo Jeryeak and its artistry, National Gugak Center chief Kim Young-woon will provide commentary throughout the performance.

Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center) Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center)
Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center) Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center)

In September, Jongmyo Jeryeak is scheduled to be performed in Hungary and Poland.

The Korean Cultural Center in the Hungarian capital of Budapest is holding this year’s cultural festival with the theme of gugak. As part of the festival, Jongmyo Jeryeak will be performed at the Erkel Theater in Budapest on Sept. 21.

On Sept. 25, Jongmyo Jeryeak will be performed at the Warsaw Philharmonic in Poland. The Polish cultural institution invited the National Gugak Center as its 2023-24 season program.

Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center) Members of the National Gugak Center perform Jongmyo Jeryeak. (National Gugak Center)

Jongmyo Jeryeak is a royal ceremonial performance that encompasses song, music and dance. It was performed during ancestral rituals held at Jongmyo Shrine, where the tablets of Joseon kings and queens are enshrined, for royal ancestors’ eternal repose.

The music was originally composed in 1447 during the reign of King Sejong for performance at royal banquets, then modified in 1464 for performance at memorial rituals during the reign of King Sejo.

Eleven pieces of “Botaepyeong” and “Jeongdaeeop,” which sing of kings’ virtues, are performed on traditional instruments for each part of the ceremony.

During “Botaepyeong,” “Munmu” -- a dance honoring ancestors’ cultural virtues symbolized by a flute held in the left hand -- is performed.

The “Mumu” dance is accompanied by “Jeongdaeeop,” which praises ancestors' martial arts with a wooden sword, spear, bow or arrow held in dancers' hands.

Jongmyo Jeryeak, registered as the nation’s first Intangible Cultural Heritage in 1964, was listed as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2001.