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Mouse Fire Game

Jwibul nori (Kor. 쥐불놀이, lit. mouse fire game) is a game related to the custom of setting fire to the edges of rice paddies and dry farming fields. This game is also referred to as seohwahui (Kor. 서화희, Chin. 鼠火戱) or hunseohwa (Kor. 훈서화, Chin. 燻鼠火), both names meaning “mouse fire merrymaking.” The purpose of setting fire to the field edges is to burn the grass and weeds thereby reducing insect damage to the crops. Following the burning of a stack of pine twigs known as daljip taeugi (Kor. 달집태우기, l

Korean Seasonal Customs



A series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, including standing upright, headstands, hanging on the side, and moving from one side to another. Masangjae refers to a series of acrobatic movements performed on running horses, while along with Gyeokgu (Korean polo), Masangjae is generally considered a kind of equestrian martial arts. Despite an unknown time of origin, it is assumed that Masangjae has a considerably long history given the fact that horses were already used in Korea d

Korean Folk Arts



Of the flags organized for nongak (farmers’ music), the command flag (yeonggi) is deployed at the front of a nongak troupe with the farming flag (nonggi) and leads the way or serves as a messenger. The flag bears the Chinese character 令 (Kor. yeong), meaning “command.” Although yeonggi is mentioned as one of the military flags in the book on strategy “Sokbyeongjangdoseol” (Kor. 속병장도설, Chin. 續兵將圖說, lit. Illustrated Manual of Military Training and Tactics) written in the 18th century, it is not ce

Korean Folk Arts


Erecting the Grain Pole

Byeotgaritdae (Kor. 볏가릿대, lit. grain pole) is a long pole with bags containing various grains such as rice, barley, millet and beans attached to its top. It is erected at a well, courtyard, or a cow shed during the Great Full Moon Festival (Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월대보름) as a form of prayer for a good harvest. Widely interpreted as a symbol of Ujumok (Kor. 우주목, Chin. 宇宙木, lit. Tree of the Universe), the pole can also be referred to with words of Chinese origin, such as hwagan (Kor, 화간, Chin. 禾竿

Korean Seasonal Customs


Document of the groom’s horoscopic data

A document containing the would-be groom’s horoscopic data, the hour, day, month, and year of his birth by the lunar calendar, sent to the wouldbe bride’s family. When a m arriage proposal was made, the groom’s family sent to the bride’s family a document containing the information of the birth of the groom and wrapped in a double-layered cloth. In Jeollanam-do Province, the document was accompanied with a few gifts, including enough fabric to make a jacket and skirt for the bride. The document

Korean Rites of Passage



Instruments used to perform nongak (farmers’ music). Instruments used for nongak include wind instruments such as nabal (long, straight trumpet), swaenap (double-reed oboe), and godong; percussion instruments such as kkwaenggwari (small gong), jing (gong), janggu (hourglass-shaped drum), buk (barrel drum), sogo (hand drum), beopgo (dharma drum) and others. Since the wind instruments are mainly played to give signals, nongak can be defined as percussion ensemble music. The four most important ins

Korean Folk Arts


Lit. one hundredth day after birth

The one hundredth day after a child’s birth, or a family party celebrating that day. The term baegil refers literally to the one hundredth day following the birth of a child, but it also simply means many days. Korean society suffered a high infant mortality rate until the early 20th century, with many infants dying before they reached their one hundredth day. That is why past Koreans believed a special celebration was needed for a baby who had passed that critical period. For the celebration, c

Korean Rites of Passage