I went to a fascinating performance & lunch at Samcheonggak (삼청각) yesterday, quite by accident (called a friend to see if she wanted to come with my to try to find where to buylamb… she had a ticket to the lunch which she couldn’t use as her effects were being delivered). Apparently, Samcheonggak was where lobbyists would entertain their “lobby-ees” (if that’s a word) in the ’70s and ’80s, but now is a cultural center. The lobbying background is evident, though, in the small buildings around the main hall, which would allow for more discrete entertaining.
The performance was great — there were 4 or 5 pieces, all traditional. Drums featured heavily (which I liked), especially the last piece which was very long: started with two guys carrying drum sets made from 4 pots & pans, then the stage lights came up to show 11 large drums of various types on stage. The duo joined the other drummers for a long piece, then the guy on the really large drum did a solo. That seqüed into a performance (by the same two) of plate spinning, then back to the drums. It all got pretty frenzied, really good, vuvuzela-like horns were pulled out at one point, but eventually ended.
My favorite piece, though, was the Chunseol (“Spring Snow” according to the program), which featured a woman dancing to music bya gayageum & drum duo. Very serene.
Another interesting piece was “Marionnette”, a Chilgomu or 7-Drum Dance. The drummer pirouetted around like, well, a marionnette, surrounded by 7 drums. There was a soundtrack, but it was really incidental to the drumming itself, I thought. It was very well done, but a bit odd — seemed more like something out of The Nutcracker, in which it would have fitted very well with just a slight change of background music.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a 7 course meal (each course was quite small, except the main) of traditional Korean food. Unusually, chili seemed to feature almost not at all, which was a bit of a surprise.
Anyway, if you’re in Seoul, I’d strongly recommend a visit to Samcheonggak.