Press release

[Review From Journalist]Sori Festival in Jeonju and Nongak Series by Sasha Gankin
관리자 | 2019-11-11 10:49:51 | 478

Sori Festival in Jeonju and Nongak Series

Sori Festival is certainly a superb place to embrace Korean Culture in it's full diversity and plenitude especially for somebody like me who has had little exposure to Korea culture before.

I arrived in Jeonju after a journey of almost 24 hours from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa with a 9 hour time difference, completely  jet legged.
I spent almost a day catching up with tiredness, the next day jumping into an unknown culture .

Sori is an enormous festival with a fully packed all day long programme during 5 days in 9 different venues around Sori Arts Center. One stage is even placed in a close by forest 
with traditional, sacred, classical et experimental and contemporary music for every taste.

The programming is adapted for all ages, for kids and suitable for family visits, because the concerts are starting already at 10am

I loved the idea of setting up a rest place for festival visitors where you can take a nap or have a picnic under a tent.

The most surprising for me was the performance of Buddhist ritual music of Jeonbuk Yeongsan Jakbeop Preservation Society - a project launched by Sori Festival.

This kind of experience is life changing – the monks have performed selected parts of a sacred ceremony on the stage of the small venue with some simple decorations.

The pure sound of their voices went deeply through my heart and spirit and gave me strong wish to visit a Buddhist monastery and stay for a while to purify my soul and body.

I never heard about Pansori before coming to Sori Festival and the performance of the young star of Pansori Yu Taepyeongyang was the biggest cultural shock for me.

I was told that Yu studied African percussion for 4 years in South Africa.
I interviewed him after the performance asking him what kind of influence his studies of African percussion had on his performing style – he confirmed it was crucial .

I learned a great deal about Pansori from this interview and it's became for me a turning point in my knowledge of the Korean culture - I started to get a feeling of getting into it. Yu created a link between the African Culture I am familiar with and the art of Pansori, which is one of the fundamental aspects of traditional Korean culture – for a foreigner it is stunning how the audience react on every phrase of Pansori. Every Korean supposed to know all 5 Batangs by heart.
At the Sori festival the cycle of the extracts of 5 Batangs was performed by young performers and by their Masters in the same concert

Nongak Cycle is certainly one of the most visually spectacular performances at the festival and certainly most accessible for a foreigner. Nongak means in Korean “farmer's music”
it is is actually simply a village feast with a lot of dancing, acrobatics, different percussion and shamanistic masks.
Each of 5 Nongak, with colourful costumes has different spectacular choreography, 
the performers being extremely precise in their movements,
especially the dancers with their unique hats. The flying movements made for a mesmerising show.

Just as there are 5 Nongaks, there are 5 Pansori Batangs. The Koreans are very proud that Nongak was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity because it was a symbol of resistance to Japanese Colonial Rule but for a foreign spectator without knowledge of its background Nongak, like so much of the Sori Festival brings a lot of joy, positive energy  like the famous spicy Bibimbap hot pot from Jeonju with a memorable flavour, I never tasted before.