Korea has a long and rich musical heritage.?oday one can find a wide variety of live performances, from replications of ancient traditions to the newest popular trends, and some that combine the two practices, including sin-kugak (new traditional/national music), fusion, and ch?ngjak p?nsori (newly-composed p?nsori).?lthough a broad range of ch?ngjak p?nsori is performed, they can generally be divided into two large categories: namely, traditional p?nsori texts that are sung with Korean or Western instrumental accompaniment, and completely new p?nsori tales.
?he new texts tend to be relatively brief and are often parodies, humorous or satirical in nature.?or instance, one story of battles and warriors uses the computer game ?tar Craft?for its contemporary setting; Agi Kongnyong Dulri recounts the adventures of a popular comic book dinosaur; and Kwaja-ga is a comical tale extolling the wonders and diversity of modern junk food.
There are those that complain that ch?ngjak p?nsori performances are an affront to the dignity and history of the tradition and that the (normally) young singers of ch?ngjak p?nsori are not adequately trained to produce the vocal timbres required by the traditional art.?he latter may in fact be true, but the former argument seems short sighted.?lthough the newly composed pieces deal with trifles or non-serious matters, this seems to be what the target audience ?youth under the age of thirty ?wants to hear: they simply desire to laugh and be entertained by topics to which they can easily relate.?hat is interesting about this phenomenon is that in the earliest stages of p?nsori, the tales sought to reflect the everyday life experiences of the common people.?nd so, perhaps rather than tuning away from its roots, ch?ngjak p?nsori is once again achieving one of its original objectives ?the expression of the ordinary.
It is quite possible that you have never attended a live p?nsori performance, thinking that the art is antiquated and lacks a connection to the realities of your contemporary life.?To this, I would fervently disagree: p?nsori has as much to teach us about the past as it does about the present and future. Nevertheless, if you think a four hour traditional p?nsori performance is too much for you to handle at this point, I encourage you to seek out ch?ngjak p?nsori pieces that aim to entertain as well as provoke the youth of today.
-By Professor Heather Willoughby (International Studies)