A member of the nongak (farmers’ music) troupe dressed as a certain character who acts out various skits.
Japsaek (Kor. 잡색, Chin. 雜色, lit. mixed colors) are referred to as the dwitchibae, the actors who lead a nongak performance along with apchibae, who play musical instruments, the bearers of different flags including the farming community flag (nonggi) and command flag (yeonggi), and the player of the double-reed oboe (saenapsu). The japsaek lead the second half of the performance (dwitgut) rather than the first half gut (apgut). They do not play a musical instrument but act out certain roles, showcasing the theatrical features of nongak through impromptu dance, movements and jokes dressed in various costumes or masks. The definition of the japsaek often depends on whether a mask is worn or not. Primitive divine masks and animal masks have been replaced with the masks of earthly human beings, adding diversity. As such, japsaek take a leading role in the nongak performance, not a peripheral or secondary one. In addition, as nongak rites and performances (gut) came to take on a strong theatrical character, the mask wearing actor came to be perceived as a being with the ability to ward off natural and social disasters. The japsaek are also known by several other names including gwangdae (clown), gwangu, gajangkkun, gyeotkkun, eojeongjaebi, heodujabi, and chumkkun (dancer).
Among the roles undertaken by japsaek, the posu, who acts as a hunter holding a gun in his hand, arranges the formations of the nongak troupe under the commands of the sangsoe or leads the other actors. The daeposu, also dressed as a hunter, wears a mask and expels evil spirits, playing the double role of both head of the enemy force fighting the sangsoe and the general leading the nongak troupe at the command of the sangsoe. The monk (jung) chants Buddhist prayers, carries out rites wishing for the success of particular projects (gosa), gathers bad luck with a strainer and extinguishes it, or dances and acts the clown dressed in Buddhist robes. The changbu (male clown or shaman’s husband), who wears makeup or a mask, assists the hunter and nobleman (yangban). He enjoys singing, drinking alcohol, and dancing, and engages in uproarious deeds. The term changbu sometimes refers to a group of japsaek, including the clown and nobleman. The changbu who accompany the hunter are collectively called pochang. The nobleman escorts the sangsoe, or is a dancer and prodigal character who leads the troupe at the command of the sangsoe. The grandma (halmi) stoops and walks with the help of a cane, swaying her hips as she dances. The new bride (gaksi) wears makeup or a mask and plays the coquette.
The japsaek of a nongak troupe are actors who lead the performance along with the musicians. Making use of their appearance and various props, they make a variety of gestures and movements while going around performing blatant and preposterous acts, often sexual. Japsaek, dressed up as a new bride, grandma, hunter, or monk, dance and weave their way through the musicians and the crowd. In addition, they perform acrobatics and joke their way through theatrics and skits such as ilgwangnori (battle between the daeposu and the gong players) or dodukjaebigut (catching the thief).