What is Pungmul?‎ > ‎

1 PungMul

1. Introduction

Pungmulgut Hanmadang (1-1) takes place in an open space rather than on a stage and it has an incredible power to accelerate the heartbeat. Because of this power, when people hear the sounds of Pungmul, their bodies and mind release tension and, without any care, they - whether man, woman, child, or elder - throw themselves with one mind and one spirit into collective dance until it becomes a village festival. As they begin playing kkwaenggari (small gong), buk (double sided barrel drum), janggo (hourglass drum), and jing (big gong), an unbelievable energy begins pushing through the exhaustion burdening their faces and it is not long before this once weary peasants are full of life and vibrant pride.

In the beginning of a new year, villagers hold a village festival or a Jisinbalgi (1-2) in order to drive bad luck out and usher in a year of good fortune. During the busy farming season, after a long day's collective labor, families gather to recharge their spirits with Pungmul. On Pekjung day (Mid July by lunar calendar), they honor the best farmer of the year and enjoy the day with Pungmul. On Hangawi (The Harvest Moon Festival. August 15th of the lunar calendar), the sounds of Pungmul echo throughout the country as farmers in every village celebrate the year's harvest. Pungmul is not limited to calendrical events. Pungmul is an integral part of building a new home. Before construction begins, it is played in Seongjupuri (1-3). Once the house is built, the new home owners welcome the house-warming guests with food and drink accompanied by Pungmul. In earlier times, Pungmul drums were the drums of war and of the hunt. Pungmul accompanied tug-of-war and folk wrestling matches. Pungmul was also a part of important village functions, such as funerals and collective fundraising meetings.

Pungmul has been a constant companion to Koreans, a presence in their daily lives all twelve months of the year. It is through Pungmul that modern Korean culture has taken shape.

1-1: "Pungmul" usually means a percussion ensemble music played outdoors or the percussion instruments themselves. A "gut" can simply be something to see, an event, or an exorcism. "Hanmadang" designates a session of "gut" or performance.)

1-2: Trampling the earth spirits. Usually held around January 15th of the lunar calendar.

1-3: A shamanist rite to appease the homesite god.