Bongsan Mask Dancer
Bongsan Mask Dancer ⓒ Ralph Honsbeek

Public Screening of Bongsan Talchum Taken in the 1930s

Bongsan talchum (Bongsan mask dance) originated in Gilyang-ri, Dongseon-myeon, Bongsan-gun in Hwanghae Province, but the geographical region of its transmission was moved to Sariwon around the year 1915. However, after moving to Sariwon, performances were not very common. In fact, on 31 August 1936, the Bongsan talchum was performed in Sariwon for the first time after a long hiatus. The performance was attended by the folklorist Im Seok-jae (1903-1998), who was recording the lines in the Bongsan talchum, as well as Sten Bergman (1895-1975), a Swedish ornithologist who filmed the dance.

Bergman arrived in Korea in 1935 to collect research material on the ecosystem of birds. He remained in Korea for two years and took about a hundred photographs that he later published in the book In Korean Wilds & Villages. Bergman’s visit to Sariwon in the summer of 1936 allowed him to capture the joy and humor of the Korean people on a 16mm reel. With Bergman was folklorist Im Seok-jae from Gyeongseong Imperial University, who went on to publish “Lines from the Bongsan Talchum” in Issue 18 of The Korean Language and Literature in 1957.

In the 1980s, Im Seok-jae, remembering that Bergman had been filming the Bongsan talchum, began looking for the footage. But by then, Bergman had already passed on, and Im was able to obtain only part of the footage from Bergman’s family. To mark the eightieth anniversary of the performance in Sariwon, this rare footage of the Bongsan talchum will be shown to the public on 31 August by a family member of the late Im Seok-jae, Im Don-hui, who is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Vice Chair of ICHCAP’s Governing Board. The film is a valuable resource that remains as the only known footage of the Bongsan talchum taken during Japanese colonial rule.

Date and time 31 Aug 2016 (Wed), 13:30~18:00

Place Folklore Theater “Pungryu”, Training Center for Important Intangible Cultural Properties

Organizer Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation

Sponsors Cultural Heritage Administration, Association for Intangible Heritage

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