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Imsil Pilbong Nongak

Nongak (farmers’ music) handed down in Pilbong-ri, Gangjin-myeon, Imsil in Jeollabuk-do Province. Imsil Pilbong Nongak falls under the geographic category of Honam Jwado Nongak, that is, nongak from the eastern part of the Honam region (jwado, or the left side from the perspective of Seoul). While nongak originating from the same region tends to change over time and place, Imsil Pilbong Nongak carries on the traditions of the main framework of Honam Jwado Nongak. Though based on the regional and

Korean Folk Arts


Coming-of-age ceremony for boys

The coming-of-age ceremony for male members of the Korean society in the past to celebrate their reaching the age of twenty, that is, adulthood. Gwallye was performed for boys who were soon to marry or who had reached the age of twenty. This coming-of-age ceremony for boys took place according to the following procedures. ① Taegil (setting the date): The ceremony had to take place on an auspicious day or, if the families concerned found it difficult to set such a date, a day in the first month o

Korean Rites of Passage


Three-Legged Crow

The legend of “Samjogo” narrates the story of an imaginary bird with three legs, believed to live on the sun, or to symbolize the sun. According to Chinese records, the concept of the three-legged crow came from the observation that the black spot on the sun resembled a crow, and that the number three in traditional cosmology indicates light, or yang energy, or that the number three itself indicates the sun. In Korea, images of the three- legged crow have been found in murals of Goguryeo tombs N

Korean Folk Literature


New Year’s Flag Greetings

Gisebae (Kor. 기세배, Chin. 旗歲拜, lit. New Year’s flag greetings) is a custom observed during Jeongwol Daeboreum (Kor. 정월대보름, Great Full Moon Festival) with the purpose of praying for an abundant harvest. As its name implies, the custom involves the use of flags that are referred to as nongsingi (Kor. 농신기, Chin. 農神旗, lit. farming god flag). Gisebae is also known under other names such as nonggi sebae (Kor. 농기세배, Chin. 農旗歲拜, lit. greetings of farming flags), nonggi bbaetgi (Kor. 농기뺏기, Chin. 農旗-, lit.

Korean Seasonal Customs


Korean Hacky Sack

Jegi chagi (Kor. 제기차기, lit. hacking jegi) is a game similar to the Western game of hacky sack. It is played by kicking a shuttlecock-like object called a jegi (Kor. 제기) into the air. A seasonal game associated with the Lunar New Year holidays and winter time in general, jegi chagi is mostly played by children. Jegi chagi originates from a ball game called chukguk (Kor. 축국, Chin. 蹴鞠) that dates back to antiquity. Both jegi and jegi chagi are vernacular translations of the Chinese word chukguk. Ch

Korean Seasonal Customs



Nongak (farmers’ music) played while the communal farm labor groups called dure actually worked in the rice paddies in summer. It is estimated that durepungjang was developed some time after the transplanting method of rice cultivation became widespread during the latter half of the Joseon Dynasty. When the transplanting method was spread throughout the country in the 17th and 18th centuries, dure also spread and the music that was played when they worked was seemingly established in the process

Korean Folk Arts


Memorial rite on the second death anniversary

The ancestral memorial rite held on the second death anniversary of an ancestor Literally meaning “extremely auspicious day, ” daesang refers to an ancestral memorial rite performed on the second death anniversary of an ancestor. Without counting leap months, it is held twenty-five months after the funeral. On the day, the participants are required to wear special ceremonial garments called dambok, which are made of fine fabric woven with black threads as the warp and white as the weft. A very i

Korean Rites of Passage