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Traditional Dance – Korea’s favorite performative art

Lets face it, we can’t help but be fascinated by the dance moves and intricate choreography of Kpop stars.

It is amazing how we are all caught in the passion of the movement unknowingly – but aware of the fact that dancing it is a highly regarded art and Koreans do not joke around when it comes to it.

From ancient folk dancing to modern dance styles, the Korean people have long celebrated this performative art as part of their cultural heritage.

This love of dancing is deeply rooted in the traditional culture owned by the country.

History of Korean Traditional Dance

The earliest use of dance in Korea began about five thousand years ago with shamanistic rituals.

Shamanism incorporates the beliefs and practices of the indigenous people in Korea, and both religious views and dance styles were unique to each village in these early years.

The dances were choreographed with the goal of entertaining a god or goddess.

When the later Korean kingdoms came about, Korean dance was extensively supported and highly regarded by the royal court and educational establishments.

Usually the government even had an official division of dance.

Traditional Korean dance may be divided into four general categories:

  • Court dances are slow, stately, and elegant, the movements balanced and restrained.
  • Folk dance includes farmers’ dances, mask dance-dramas, and various group dances meant to accompany work.
  • Ritual dance appears in Confucian, shamanistic, and Buddhist ceremonies.
  • Professional entertainers performed both court and folk dances, often combining features of the two.

Today, other Korean traditional dance choreography is still performed by farmers and folk dancing groups.

Props are often used to accentuate the beauty and drama of Korean dance, and everything from hats to swords may be seen on stage.

Korean traditional dances

  • Seungmu

Video courtesy of Korea.net


Seungmu is a Korean traditional dance originally danced by monks.

This dance is accompanied by a Buddhist music game with 8 repertoires, namely yeombul, dodeuri, taryeong, jajin taryeong , gutgeori, dwit gutgeori, gujeong nori, and saesanjo.

Many Koreans think that Seungmu is one of the most beautiful and elaborate folk dances of his movement.

The beauty of it is seen from the graceful movements of the dancer who uses a long white shawl and then hit the drum.

Facial expressions vary in each section. Seungmu dancer wearing a white hood called a gokkal with long sleeves called gasa.

  • SeungJeonmu
SeungJeonmu Dance

SeungJeonmu Dance

The next typical South Korean dance is SeungJeonmu.

SeungJeonmu is a kind of warrior dance to honor the god of the earth and has appeared about 2000 years ago.

It was usually held when Koreans were going to war.

Through this dance is expected Earth God will give the victory of war SeungJeonmu consists of sword dance and drum dance commonly called mugo.

  • Hallyangmu
Hallyangmu Dance

Hallyangmu Dance

Hallyangmu is a Korean folk dance featuring the life of the Joseon Dynasty nobility.

At first this dance was performed in a stunt group stage show for the poor people.

However, when this group of entertainers disappears, the hallyang dance begins to be performed for adults only.

Since 1910, hallyangmu is often featured in gisaeng entertainment houses and parties.

This dance is rooted in the lives of happy hallyangs in the past so there is no fixed structure.

Hallyang is a group of idle youths (nobles of Joseon) who only spend their time in a spree and have fun.

The theme ranges from daily life and the love stories of hallyang played by noble characters, lower level officials, monks and gisaeng.

  • Cheoyongmu


Cheoyongmu Dance

Cheoyongmu Dance

The next typical South Korean traditional dance is Cheoyongmu.

This dance is a kind of mask dance that is often staged in the palace to reject the reinforcements and ask blessings to the gods.

This dance is synonymous with the use of a red Cheoyong mask with a friendly smile and white teeth.

This mask is also equipped with 2 earrings, necklaces and black hat with peony flowers, tree twigs, and 7 peaches.

All these elements are believed to be exorcists.

  • Buchaaechum

-also called fan dance.

The Buchaaechum dancers use a beautiful fan with a picture ornament of peonies. The dance is performed by a group of women wearing hanbok with bright and contrasting colors .

This dance was originally intended to commemorate the worship ceremony of gods, but now it has been staged at various annual events, festivals, and also state events.

Characteristic peculiarity of this Buchaechum dance is the existence of a neat circular formation. The dancers then use the fan to form wave movements, flying butterflies, obaklaut, flowers, and many more.

In conclusion we can say that Korean traditional dance has a rich history of culture and storytelling that continues even today.

We can also identify a certain blend of traditional and modern arts in more recent performances of idol groups.

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