What is Pungmul?‎ > ‎

6 Forms and Custom

A Pungmul celebration usually consists of flagholders, horn players, drummers, and Japsaek (comic relief actors. Japsaek literally means "motley" or "multi-colored."). The Japsaek wander about, connecting the onlookers with the performers, not following any particular script but adding vigor to the event through their enthusiastic dances. A dynamic and spirited Pungmul celebration requires the presence of many Japsaek, flagholders, drummers, and onlookers.

Today's presentations of Pungmul are focused on the samulnori formation, but there is a trend toward the more preferred formation consisting of many Japsaeks and drummers. An especially vibrant stage for Pungmul can be created by invigorating the give and take between performers and onlookers through satire and the impromptu amusement created by the performers' biting comments.

While there is no original Pungmul costume, in recent days each region has created its own style of dress, influenced largely by provincial or national Pungmul performances and by the costumes worn by professional Pungmul groups (i.e. Sadangpae, Jeongeup Nongakdan, and Yeoseong Nongakdan).

The usual costume was once a plain white pants/shirt set wrapped around with 3 ribbons in red, blue, and yellow colors. Today, however, people often wear a red, blue, or black vest over the white shirt, then 2 or 3 colored ribbons either in an X across the upper body or all over one shoulder. Costumes are becoming more diverse as each region, and each Pungmul group, creates its own distinct style.

Position/OrderNameShort description
FlagholdersYongdangiA dragon painted with the tail feathers of a quail. This drawing symbolizes things given by the divine (courage, life, strength).
 YounggiA flag with the character "young," which leads a Pungmul performance.
 NonggiA flag with the characters "the farming life is most blessed under the heavens." Such flags were apparently used beginning in the early 1900s.
Horn playersNabalA horn longer than the Nallari, which is used to give signals.
 NallariA horn which is essential for creating vivacity and raising spirits.
DrummersSangsoiThe leader of all the instrument players.
 Busoi(Second-soi) Plays the basic rhythms and supports the sangsoi.
 SoiThird-soi, fourth-soi, etc?all the way to last-soi.
 SujingKeeps the drummers together by playing the downbeats.
 JingSecond-jing, third-jing, etc?all the way to last-jing.
 SeoljangguLeads the janggu players. Also called "Sujanggu" or "Sangjanggu."
 JangguSecond-janggu, third-janggu?all the way to last-janggu.
 SubukLeads the Buk players; generally plays downbeats with the Jing.
 BukSecond-buk, third-buk, etc.. all the way to last-buk.
 SubeopkoThe lead Sogo player, who dances vivaciously to energize the group. Also called "Sangbeokgu."
 BeopkoSecond-beopko, third-beopko?all the way to last-beopko.
JapsaekDaeposuCharacter who runs out evil spirits and undoes misfortune. Leader of Japsaek. Also supports the instrumentalists by carrying extra drum sticks in a sack, to give to those whose sticks break.
 ChangbuMale jester who wears a "Deggebi" (bamboo hat).
 YangbanCharacter dressed in refined clothing who plays an old aristocrat.
 HalmiCharacter dressed as a grandmother who accompanies the aristocrat.
 ChorijungCharacter dressed as a monk, and carrying a monk's sack.
 WehjangnyeoMale character dressed in a woman's traditional dress and head covering.
 MudongA strong, healthy child from the village who sits on an adult's shoulders and dances.

The formation, number of Japsaek, costumes and functions of characters differ according to region and type of performance.