Deulnoreum (Kor. 들놀음, Chin. 野遊, lit. field play) is a traditional mask play held during the Great Full Moon Festival (the fifteenth of the first lunar month) in Dongnae-gu and Suyeong-dong of Nam-gu, both located in the Busan administrative area. In the past deulnoreum was generally the name used by the elderly and women in the area, to refer to the mask play, while the “learned people” and the younger people more oftenly referred to it as yaryu (Kor. 야류, Chin. 野遊). Both names mean “outdoor play” or “field play.”
There are several theories explaining the origin of the word deul in the name of the play. According to one such theory, deul refers to actual rice paddy fields where this mask play is frequently performed. Another theory interprets the word as a metaphor for a farming community; hence, the name of the play should be understood as a farming community mask play or a farming ritual.
The mask play performed in Dongnae-gu is known as Dongnae Deulnoreum (Kor. 동래들놀음, Chin. 東萊-) or Dongnae Yaryu (Kor. 동래야류, Chin, 東萊野遊) and was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 18 in 1967. It is performed during the Great Full Moon Festival, which lasts for the three days around the fifteenth of the first lunar month. The mask play usually follows the village tug-of-war between the eastern and the western parts of the village. The mask dancers gather together in the evening of the fourteenth or the fifteenth and parade through the streets. When they arrive at the venue, they first perform a dance and then the actual mask play starts late at night, after women and children have left the site. The play consists of four acts: mundungi madang (Kor. 문둥이마당), yangban-malttugi madang (Kor. 양반·말뚝이마당), yeongno madang (Kor. 영노마당) and yeonggam-halmi madang (Kor. 영감·할미마당).
The second type of play, Suyeong Yaryu, which is characteristic of Suyeong-dong, Nam-gu, Busan, was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 43 in 1971. The event begins around the third or fourth of the first lunar month with a troupe of performers touring the village’s homes to perform the ritual for the earth god jisin bapgi (Kor. 지신밟기, Chin. 地神-) and to raise money for the mask play. The play includes four acts: yangban madang (Kor. 양반마당), yeongno madang (Kor. 영노마당), yeonggam-halmi madang (Kor. 영감・할미마당) and saja madang (Kor. 사자마당). Although currently an independent performance, Suyeong Yaryu was originally part of a ritual for the mountain god called sansinje (Kor. 산신제, Chim. 山神祭).
Dongnae is located nearby Suyeong, and the play Dongnae Yaryu is believed to have derived from Suyeong Yaryu. While the two kinds of performances share certain similarities, there are also a number of distinctive local characteristics. For example, the saja madang act is replaced in Dongnae Yaryu with mundungi madang. In addition, the malttugi mask used in Suyeong is highly stylized, whereas the one used in Dongnae is realistic. In addition, the deotboegi (Kor. 덧뵈기) dance of Suyeong appears defensive, compared to the same dance in the Dongnae tradition, which is more welcoming and congenial.