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Leaders of Hallyu in Traditional Culture Updated: 2011-08-24 00:00:00 KST

[Interview : ] "March on!"

At the command of the leading gong player, the rhythm of samulnori begins to pound the stage.

However, their stage is located not in Korea, but Japan.

Another Hallyu boom is brewing in Japan, driven by Korea's unique traditional culture and its leading pioneers.

Among them is Lee Kwang-soo [이광수], the most authoritative member of the No. 1 samulnori band in Korea.

[Interview : Lee Kwang-soo, Director
Academy of Korean Music
] "The instruments used in samulnori carry the sounds of our people. So listening to such touching sounds simply makes us feel euphoric."
Another is Kim Myo-seon, a renowned and highly valuable Korean dancer. She, on her part, is working hard to promote the beautiful dances of Korea.

[Interview : Kim Myo-seon, Leader
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "The Japanese people loved our traditional dances the minute they saw them. They've acknowledged that the cultural and artistic values of Korean dances are just as great as those of the Japanese dances, which they are very proud of."

This summer, at the hands of these new Hallyu representatives, an exciting performance is born in Japan,

where everybody present, from budding Korean dancers to Japanese audience members in love with the Korean culture, become one.

A must-visit place for Buddhist pilgrims, the Dainichiji Temple, is where Kim Myo-seon currently resides as the Head Priestess.

Since marriage is allowed in Japanese Buddhism, she settled down in the temple and became a monk herself after getting married to a Japanese Buddhist monk.

[Interview : Kim Myo-seon, Leader
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "My late husband will be very happy that I became the head priestess of this famous, historical temple in Japan. Thus I treat all
the Japanese people as if they were my family, hoping for their support and help."

She became a sensation in Japan when she became the Head Priestess of the temple, despite the fact of being a Korean woman and without even shaving her head.

This marked the beginning for another kind of Hallyu.

[Interview : Kim Myo-seon, Leader
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "My Korean name, Kim Myo-seon, will live on in this 1,200-year-old temple. That's really something. So even when I'm gone, the Hallyu will not die down."

Whenever a large cultural event is held in Tokushima, Kim invites a Korean dance team and a folk band to hold traditional performances.

This summer they are holding two performances sponsored by a Japanese newspaper. And Kim's Japanese apprentices will be on the stage as well.

[Interview : Yamato Miyuki, Kim Myo-seon's apprentice
] "I was surfing the web to find out where I could learn traditional Korean dances, and I found out that Kim Myo-seon was
teaching Korean dances in Tokushima. So I began to learn from her, and now I'm about to perform on stage."

The performance is given by Korea's best samulnori band and traditional dancers.

They have been performing on the Japanese stage for 16 long years now, united in their efforts to promote Korea's traditional culture overseas.

[Interview : Kim Myo-seon, Leader
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "It was a strange fate. I came to Japan when I married a Japanese Buddhist monk. The only thing I was good at was dancing,
so I began to promote Korea's traditional dances here. It's been 16 years now, and every year, we hold this large performance."

Only 20 minutes remain until the performance. All 2,000 seats are taken.

The performance finally begins.

Standing before the Japanese audience, the Korean dancers begin to move in harmony.

[Interview : Lee Ji-seon, Executive choreographer
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "The key is to accurately show the Japanese people the true essence of Korea's traditional culture. That's when they will be able to understand Korea better."

The participation of the Japanese apprentices makes the performance even more meaningful.

The stage is filled with the beautiful harmony created by the Korean and Japanese dancers, a living testament to the lively cultural exchanges that exist between the two countries.

[Interview : Yamato Miyuki, Kim Myo-seon's apprentice] "I'm happy that while learning traditional Korean dances, I've also come to learn more about Korea."

The highlight of the performance is Kim Myo-seon's Buddhist dance.

The applause does not simmer down easily.

[Interview : Yoshihi, Audience member] "It was excellent. I was very moved. I'm thankful for this performance."

[Interview : Dakami, Audience member] "It was beautiful. Although I do not understand the language, I was touched. It was a wonderful performance."

The team moves to the second venue of their performance overnight.

Their tight practice is more than enough to wear out the members. However, hearing that their previous performance brought in a full house revitalizes them.

Their determination is stronger than ever during their last performance.

[Interview : Jang Ok-ju, Choreographer
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "I heard that we got a full house, thanks to all the Japanese audience members. I feel very emotional. Everyone in the team is very happy."

The performance in Kyoto begins with the interaction between performers and audience members.

Just like in samulnori, where there is no gap between the stage and the audience, Korea's traditional culture seeps into the hearts of the Japanese audience.

[Interview : Kim Myo-seon, Leader
Kim Myo-seon Ballim Dance Company
] "Because I'm the head priestess of a historical temple, I come across many opportunities to promote Korea's traditional culture in Japan. I believe that true Hallyu entails interacting with ordinary
Japanese people in everyday life."

These cultural ambassadors dream of establishing a Hallyu in the field of traditional culture.

As living national treasures of Korea's traditional culture, they now play the role of a cultural bridge between Korea and Japan. And their continued efforts will not be in vain.


It's very heartwarming to see the two cultures mingle so well together.
And though it's great in its own right pop idols aren't the only thing that's part of the Korean wave.
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