Suyeong Nongcheong Nori
A custom imitating farming practices based on a group of farmers called nongcheong in the area of Suyeong of Busan Metropolitan City during the Joseon Period.
The basin in this area is fertile land good for farming, where the Suyeonggang River and the sea meet, offering an abundant supply of fish. From the early days, the residents engaged in agriculture on rich soil, and caught fish, including anchovies, cutlassfish, and mackerel. The residents established an organization called nongcheong for collective farming in order to increase the efficiency of farming across the vast land along the Suyeonggang River. Nongcheong was what a dure (farmers’ cooperative group) eventually evolved into in the past. At the center of a village, there was a building for the administration of the nongcheong, which also stored the necessary farming equipment. The workers of the nongcheong consisted of people able to perform labor, as well as a manager to lead them. The person in charge was called the haengsu, while the person assisting the haengsu was referred to as the dogam. Below them were suchonggaks, who delivered the orders and directed farming tasks, as well as a clerk that was in charge of keeping important records.
Suyeong is an enormous area where one nongcheong was not enough in managing all the works, spurring on the creation of two nongcheongs: one in the south and another in the north. Farming tasks were mainly done by men, with help from women and children during rice planting. The meeting for organizing women’s activities was called naebangcheong, while the meeting for overseeing children was referred to as mogicheong. All farming tasks, from beginning to end, were carried out as a group effort, according to a specific signal generated by a bugle through a hollowed out royal foxglove tree. The bugle was called a yeonggak, or ttaengbal, while the person sounding the bugle was referred to as the yeonggaksu.
Members of the nongcheong loosely followed the orders given by the leaders during the work. The most important and urgent tasks in farming are riceplanting, barley threshing, and harvesting. The prioritizing of paddies to attend to was determined by speed and convention. However, since it is also a decision made among the people, the farmlands of more prominent figures were prioritized. Members of the nongcheong were also mobilized for community works beyond farming, such as mowing and fixing roads. During these kinds of jobs, exciting songs were played by the farmers to reduce the boredom and increase the efficiency of the work. Also, due to the strict rules, members would not dare to think about performing out of line from the rest of the group. Those who broke the rules and conducted personal matters, or remained idle, were punished according to the rules of the sanctions made by the nongcheong. Since Suyeong is a farming and fishing village that exists within a metropolis, the nongcheong lasted until the early 1960s. As a result, the nongyos that were sung during farming, as well as some of the farming equipment and clothing, are well preserved. Accordingly, there were no significant difficulties in the restoration and reenactment of Suyeong Nongcheong Nori.
Suyeong Nongcheong Nori consists of the following eight madangs, or chapters: Pulbegi Sori, sung while weeding to create the fertilizer necessary for farming; Garae Sori, sung while breaking the ground, even while using spades for rice-planting; Mojjigi Sori, sung while taking rice seedlings from a seedbed; Mosimgi Sori and Nonmaegi Sori, sung while rice-planting and weeding paddies; and Dorikkaetajak Sori, sung while barley threshing using flails. During the spare time after a weeding, bull fighting would occasionally take place, and people often drank nongju (farmer’s wine) and sang Chingching Sori. Most nongyos of the nongcheong have a 4/4 syllabic meter with a slow rhythm called the Menarijo, which expresses the hardships of farming, alongside the joys and sorrows of life.