Ganggang Sullae is based on a 5,000-year-old Korean ritual that was held to pray for a bountiful harvest, it became a dance performed especially during the Chuseok holidays.
Performed during the Chuseok holidays, the origins of “Ganggang Sullae” date back to ancient times. In ancient times, people believed that the sun, moon and mother nature controlled the universe. So long ago, Koreans held rituals beseeching the heavens for a bountiful harvest.
The 5,000-year-old Ganggang Sullae was once used as a military tactic during the 16th-century Japanese invasion of Korea. In the historic Battle of Myeongnang. Admiral Yi Sunsin commanded a small fleet of iron-plated warships, the first such warships in naval history, to decisively defeat one of the largest Japanese naval fleets ever amassed in a naval battle. Vastly outnumbered on land and sea, Admiral Yi Sunsin ordered all the women to wear military uniforms and dance the Ganggang Sullae in the high mountains for many nights. When Japanese scouts saw this night activity, they were fooled into thinking that the Korean side had a large number of troops when in fact, this was not the case. The courage of the women and Admiral Yi Sunsin's smart military tactics were crystallized through the Ganggang Sullae dance.
Ganggang Sullae was the sole pastime of women for ages. As most women were homemakers, they sang about their hard lives while dancing the Ganggang Sullae. They also sang about lovers and their wishes to be dutiful daughters to their parents. Sung under a full moon, “Ganggang Sullae” contained song lyrics that contained the wishes of the women dancers.
Under the moonlight, women express their hopes and passion by dancing the Ganggang Sullae. As a traditional dance where Koreans wish for a prosperous future, “Ganggang Sullae” shows the life and aspirations of Koreans.