Traditional Korean tightrope-walking performance is referred to as jultagi (Kor. 줄타기) and, in contrast with similar foreign genres, combines acrobatics with dancing, singing, and humor. The tightrope walker exchanges jokes with another member of the troupe who is standing on the ground. The accompanying music is played on string and wind instruments. Jultagi was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in traditional Korea. The performances attracted not only large crowds of common people, but were often held as part of official events on the state and local administrative levels. Jultagi was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 58.
Although the exact origin of the tradition is unknown, it was most probably introduced from China or Central Asia during the Three Kingdoms period (?~668), along with two other performance genres, sanak (Kor. 산악, Chin. 散樂) and baekhui (Kor. 백희, Chin. 百戱). During the late Joseon period (17th~1910), there were three main types of jultagi, depending on who performed it. The first type, known as gwangdae jultagi (Kor. 광대줄타기), was practiced by entertainers coming from families of hereditary shamans. The actors in the second type called jaeinchon jultagi (Kor. 재인촌줄타기) belonged to the artist villages. The third type was a feature of shows by the traveling troupes of entertainers and was referred to as eoreum jultagi (Kor. 어름줄타기). Towards the later part of the Joseon Dynasty, royal court hosted significantly fewer festive events of a national scale. As a result, many of the performing artists left the capital city to earn a living as traveling entertainers. Troupes of traveling entertainers, such as sadangpae (Kor. 사당패), namsadangpae (Kor. 남사당패), sotdaejaengipae (Kor. 솟대쟁이패), gwangdaepae (Kor. 광대패) and geollippae (Kor. 걸립패) went from town to town to perform in marketplaces and invariably included tightrope walking as part of their routine.