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Yeongdong Grape and Nangye Gugak Festivals

The 43rd Yeongdong Nangye Traditional Music Festival will be held in Yeongdong County, Chungcheongbuk-do, from Sept. 3 to 7.

The festival was established by Yeongdong County and the Nangye Memorial Association to honor scholar Park Yeon (1378-1458), who played a central role in laying a foundation for Korean traditional music, or gugak, under the pen name Nangye in the early 15th century.

This is also the only traditional music festival in the country officially recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A music parade will liven up the street prior to the official opening that same day. Performers from the Nangye Folk Troupe Association will take the lead, joined by African musicians to celebrate the universality of the power of music. The opening ceremony will present a variety of gugak performances, plus performances from other musical genres including trot, fusion, dance, K-pop, and non-verbal performances from the musical “Nanta,” featuring traditional Korean percussion.

The organizing committee has prepared a gugak class to show how the instruments are made and played, led by Korea’s best–known craftsmen. Visitors can choose from six different instruments: daegeum (large transverse flute), geomungo (six-string zither), sanjo ajaeng (seven-string bowed zither), and three types of gayageum (zither).

Reservations can be made online at: (Korean language only) so that the craftsman can do preliminary work preparing the instruments to be strung and decorated in class. The price ranges from 290,000 (daegeum) to 890,000 won (25-string gayageum).

Seven foreign diplomats and their families stationed in Korea, including U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Mark Tokola, and delegations from Vietnam, Guatemala, Slovakia, Côte d’Ivoire, Laos, and Uzbekistan, have already made their reservations. The 20-member group will learn how to carve and tie strings for gayageum and haegeum over the course of an hour before getting introductory lessons on how to play their new instruments.

The same day, the village will unveil a giant drum that has been in production since June last year. The drum is 5.5 meters in diameter, 6 meters in length, and weighs 7.5 tons, and was made with the hides of 40 cows and wood from a 150-year old pine tree.
The organizing committee plans to apply for recognition from the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest drum

The Yeongdong Grape Festival will be running concurrently with the music festival. Visitors can take part in grape-themed games and activities, such as making grape wine and jam, and picking and pressing grapes. Some more unusual games include grape “fishing” and a grape “World Cup.” Local vendors selling grapes and grape-flavored foods will also be on hand.

A gugak performance and wine party will take place all day long during the weekend of Sept. 4th and 5th. The local wine train which runs three days a week (Tue, Fri, and Sat.) will be in full operation everyday during the festival.

A marathon will take place on Sept. 5. In addition to trophies for winners, there will be wines and boxes of grapes for other high-achieving participants. Yeongdong T-shirts will be distributed to all who join the marathon.

Other events include exhibitions of oriental paintings, wild flowers, rare stones, and calligraphy, along with traditional instruments from other Asian countries, and a traditional market featuring local cuisine.

Related website:

By Kim Hee-sung Staff Writer

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