A victory dance that originated 2000 years ago and is comprised of a sword dance and drum dance, which were performed to wish for victory when the kingdom was at war.
Seungjeonmu became a well-known dance when Admiral Yi Sunsin ordered his soldiers to dance the sword dance before engaging with the enemy in the Hansandaecheob naval battle, one of the greatest battles in world history. The dance was meant to uplift the fighting spirit of the soldiers, and the admiral went on to win the battle with his spirited troops.
Seungjeonmu originated thousands of years ago, somewhere between 1st century BC and 7th century AD. Paintings of seungjeonmu are found in Goguryeo Wall Paintings that were drawn by ancient Goguryeo people who conquered Northeast Asia. They are also the ancestors of the Korean people. One wall painting called Gamudo depicts dancers dancing in a circle while wearing dresses with long sleeves. This is an important ancient record that shows one of the earliest known Korean dances.
The drum dance aroused the fighting spirit of the soldiers as it emulated the sound of their heartbeats. A yin-yang pattern, which symbolizes the universe, was drawn on the drum. This symbol contained the wishes of the Korean people who wanted to be prosperous like the wide universe.
In the sword dance, the sword is used to absorb energy from the heavens and purify the Seungjeonmu ritual. The main purpose of the sword dance is to pray to the gods for victory in an upcoming battle. Two real swords were used in the sword dance and in the climax of the dance, the dancer would expertly twirl the swords in rapid movements.