Thursday, May 03, 2007

Korean Pride

I took a trip to Korea on business and on one of my off days I decided to catch a performance of some traditional music and dance. The place I went to was geared towards tourists, but it was close so I didn't mind. The stage was showing signs of wear and the LED translations on one of the backdrops was a bit distracting, but after all is said and done, it was a great show. Myself, as well as the riot of Japanese granny tourists had a fantastic time. Especially the 오고무, 농악, and 판굿 performances. Good stuff. I'm also a closet fan of 판소리. The only thing that kinda irked me was the choreography of the 소고춤 was a little too similar to the dance sequence in the Japanese film, 座頭市.

It really was refreshing to see this. It always seems to me that Korea is desperately seeking attention and recognition for everything, mostly undeservedly. There seems to be this ingrained and illogical need for Koreans to compare themselves to everyone else, their neighbors, their friends, other countries, etc. and to be seen superior. It is like a global game of king of the hill, but only the Koreans are playing it. I guess this in of itself could be considered part of the culture, but not one I would be particularly proud of. 파전 suddenly becomes Korean pizza, everything in Japan was invented by Koreans, and Hines Ward suddenly becomes the symbol of Korean superiority despite the fact that Koreans never gave a shit about biracial Koreans and looked down on us as dirty. Mixed Koreans were never seen as Korean until one wins the Superbowl (of course after the VT shootings, there was a deluge of articles distancing 조승희 from his Korean heritage by talking about how he lived in the states for a long time and he was part of the 1.46795 generation and was more American than Korean as if that kinda thing could be measured). But I digress.

After seeing the show, it was the first time in a long time that I felt proud of my Korean heritage. THIS is what Korean culture and tradition is all about. It was pure and unadulterated and, most of all, it was Korean with no regard for anyone else's opinions. It was like an unspoken message: "This is us. Take it or leave it." Good stuff and I was filled with pride and smiling all day and the next.

For a really great show, you should check out the 국립국악원. 김덕수 rocks it out.

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