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Sought-after nonverbal performances of Korea

With Korea’s nonverbal performances growing in popularity, “TAL: The Legend of Korea Extreme Taekwondo Performance” touches the hearts of many people all over the world.

The nonverbal performance, which has toured 24 cities in 18 countries since 2010, combines four aspects of Korean culture into one musical and art performance, integrating the Korean representative martial art of taekwondo with percussion, b-boying, and traditional Korean dance. TAL performances run through March 24 at the K-Art Hall in Olympic Park.

 TAL was invited to UNESCO based in Paris, France in April 2012. The TAL taekwondo team shows off their jaw- dropping kicks (photo courtesy of SR Group). TAL was invited to UNESCO based in Paris, France in April 2012. The TAL taekwondo team shows off their jaw-dropping kicks (photo courtesy of SR Group).

“I wanted to create an art performance to represent Korea,” explained TAL executive director Choi So-ri about how he was motivated to direct TAL. “For about a decade, I’d been thinking of how to make a taekwondo performance which goes beyond being just a demonstration of poomsae (taekwondo skills) and harmonizes with music and dance. The last decade of efforts paid off when the new style of martial arts performance TAL came to light.”

TAL tells a story about good and evil. It makes use of a tal (Korean mask) to describe greed and power. With the existence of the tal dividing human being into good and evil, good overcoming evil is presented with the dynamic and powerful moves of taekwondo, the smoothness of traditional Korean dance, and the unique percussion beats. At the end of the performance, the famous Korean folk song Arirang is performed while b-boys dance on stage, adding a fresh and exciting vibe.

The harmonious combination of two completely different factors, taekwondo and traditional Korean dance, captures the audience’s eyes (photo courtesy of SR Group).The harmonious combination of two completely different factors, taekwondo and traditional Korean dance, captures the audience’s eyes (photo courtesy of SR Group).

TAL's main percussionist Kim Mi-so shows off her powerful percussion skills (photo courtesy of SR Group).TAL's main percussionist Kim Mi-so shows off her powerful percussion skills (photo courtesy of SR Group).

"The audience we met during the overseas tour was fascinated by the combination of the smooth moves of traditional Korean dance and powerful taekwondo, with the b-boy dancing to the percussion beats,” added Choi. “When we performed for an audience of about 100,000 in New York, we received a standing ovation.”

According to Kim Heung-kyo, the leader of the TAL taekwondo team, foreign audiences reacted after the performance, “This is the best taekwondo performance I’ve ever seen!” and repeated “Unbelievable!”

“TAL is the martial arts masterpiece created only with the powerful factors of taekwondo, traditional Korean dance, percussion, and b-boying,” percussionist Kim Mi-so said in an interview. “This nonverbal performance can be enjoyed by everyone no matter what language they speak.”

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