꼭두각시놀음 Kogdugaksinori is the last performance of 사당패 Sadangpae a wandering troupe, which started in the 18th century.

The story :
박첨지 Park Cheomji was an old man who had a concubine. When she knew about her husband's affaire, 박첨지's wife ran away from home. He then went looking for her. On the road the couple met several people and converted to buddhism. 

A composit art :
꼭두각시놀음 is concidered a composit art 종함예술, since it contains at the same time dancing, singing, acting, etc...
During the play, the daejabi -man who holds and manipulates the dolls-, often chats with the man playing music under the stage : the sanbaji.

The stage :
"The puppet show was performed in an open-air stage called p'ojang, which was made by erecting four poles in a space of about 10 square meters, from which a stage protruded, with the rest of the space being curtained off. The stage was 25 meters wide and 0.7 meters deep, and the puppets moved around in the air at the height of about 1.2 meters... " Lee, Mee-won (Summer 1997). "The Roots and Transmission of Korean Performing Arts."

Names of the dolls (Korean only) : 
01-박첨지(노인, 주역이자 극 진행상 해설자를 겸함)
02-꼭두각시(박첨지의 본마누라)
03-홍동지(박첨지의 조카, 벌거벗은 힘꾼)
04-덜머리집(박첨지의 첩)
05-피조리(박첨지의 조카딸) 2인
06-상좌(파계한 암자의 승려) 2인 (7) 홍백가(붉고 흰 두 얼굴을 가진 남자)
08-묵대사(도에 이른 고승)
09-영노(무엇이나 먹겠다는 걸신들린 요귀)
10-귀팔이(뜯기다 못하여 귀까지 너풀대는 백성의 하나)
11-평안감사(권력의 상징으로 내세운 탐관)
12-작은 박첨지(박첨지의 동생)
13-박첨지 손자(저능아) 3인
14-상주(평안감사의 아들)
15-동방석이(삼천갑자를 살았다는 동방삭)
16-잡탈(마을사람, 남자들) 3인
17-사령(평안감사의 매사냥 장면과 상여장면에 나오는 관속) 3인
18-상도꾼(평안감사의 상여를 멘 사람) 12인

고무줄 놀이

It is one of the oldest games not only in Korea, but around the world. You who are reading this article might have played it before or seen children playing it. It's the "Elastic Game" or in Korean "고무줄 놀이". Korean girls started playing it since a very long time ago. This game using a 3m+ long elastic thread, is played in three different ways :
- The single where girls tie the thread with a tree (for eg.).
- The couple where two threads are attached together and two girls hold the elastic from opposit sides.
- The triple where about three threads are attached and three girls hold the thread from three angles.

Girls while playing 고무줄 놀이 usually sing some songs that are specific to each play. We have brought some of them: 

★ 우산이슬비 내리는 이른 아침에농군 셋이 나란히 걸어갑니다.농사해도 살길 없긴 매일반인데좁다란 논둑길에 농군 세 사람고픈 배를 끌어안고 걸어갑니다.

★ 꽃까신 하나 개나리 노란 꽃그늘 아래가지런히 노여있는 꼬까신 하나아기는 살짝 신 벗어 놓고맨 발로 한들한들 나들이 갔나가지런히 노여잇는 꼬까신 하나

★ 개구리개굴개굴 개구리 노래를 한다 아들손자 며느리 다
모여서 밤새도록 하여도 듣는이없네..듣는 사람 없어도 날이 밝도록개굴개굴 개구리 노래를 한다개굴개굴 개구리 목청도 좋다.

★ 인디언 한꼬마 두꼬마 세꼬마 인디언네꼬마 다섯꼬마 여섯꼬마 인디언일곱꼬마 여덟꼬마 아홉꼬마 인디언열꼬마 인디언 보이즈..

★ 간질간질간질간질간질 발가락이 간지러워 병원에 갔더니 무좀이래요..지지보이소 나좀 보이소.. --;;3줄.
★숫자세기...(시작하기 전에..)하나 둘울 셋이요..하나 둘 세엣 네엣.. 계속 이어나가기..
★ 가랑잎? 가랑잎 타박타박 어디로 가느냐벌거벗은 이 몸을 씻겨주소서~~가랑잎만 타박타박 걸어갑니다.

★ 장난감기차장난감기차가 칙칙떠나간다과자와 사탕을 실고서 언마방에 있는 우리아기한테 갔다주러 갑니다.

★ 딱따구리구리 마요네즈마요네즈 케키는 맛좋아인도 인도 인도
사이다사이다 사이다 오 땡큐바로...

★ 마요네즈 노래 :
딱따구리구리 마요네즈~마요네즈 케찹은 맛 좋아인도 인도 인도네시아~사이다콜라 250원딱따구리구리....

★ 오이맛사지~아프리카 사람들은 마음씨가 좋아 (아 좋아 아 좋아)케익사주고~~케익먹고 배탈나서 병원에 가니!호박같은 간호사가 나를 반기네오,오, 오이마사지, 싱,싱,싱글러브유~오,오,
오이마사지, 싱,싱,싱글러브유~

★ 신데렐라신데렐라는 어려서 부모님을 잃고요계모와 언니들에게 구박을 받았더래요싸바싸바 알싸바얼마나 울었을까 싸바싸바 알싸바천구백팔십오년도

★승리의노래( 승리의 길 - 작사 이선근 작곡 권태호 )무찌르자 오랑캐 몇 백만이냐대한남아 가는데 초개로구나나가자 나아가 승리의 길로나가자 나아가 승리의 길로 쳐부수자 공산군 몇천만이냐우리국군 진격에 
섬멸뿐이다나가자 나아가 승리의 길로나가자 나아가 승리의 길로 용감하다 유엔군  우리와함께지쳐가는 적진에 맹호와같이나가자 나아가 승리의 길로나가자 나아가 승리의 길로 

★색종이색종이를 곱게~접어서~~물감으로 예쁘게 색칠하고알록달록~ 오색실 고이달아 비행기를 날리자솔솔 바람부는 뒷동산에 동네 친구들 모여서파란 하늘향해 날리면 새처럼 날아간다~~하늘 끝까지 날아라 높이 더 높이~
★목장길 따라목장길 따라~밤길 거닐여 고운님 함께 집에 오는데목장길 따라~밤길 거닐여 고운님 함께 집에 오는데스타랄랄~~라라라~~

★금강산금강산 찾아가자 일만이천봉~ 볼수록 아름답고 신기하구나~철따라 고운옷 갈아입는 산~~~이름도 아름다워 금강이라네 금강이라네~금강산 보고싶다 다시또한번맑은 물 궁비쳐 폭포 이루고갖가지 옛 이야기 가득 지닌 산이름도 찬란하여 금강이라네 금강이라네~
★ 무좀 송간질 간질 간질발가락이 간지러워병원에 갔더니 무좀이래요엄마 엄마 엄마 엄마 난 몰라

Lilian Miller (1895-1943)

Born in Tokyo, Japan on July 20 1895; Lilan Miller was the daughter of an American diplomat and an English Teacher. Three years after studying in the atelier of Kano Tomonobu (1843–1912) in the Kanō school in Tokyo; Lilian exhibited her first works under her art name : Gyokka (jeweled flower). In 1918, her family moved to Seoul where her father started to work as the American Consul General. Lilian Miller did woodblock painting as well, but she had to stop fo a while until 1920 when she started creating images of Korean people and countryside, which she sold in Tōkyō and the United States. Miller had a close friendship with the artist Elizabeth Keith, however; their relationship turned into rivalry. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, she destroyed much of her woodprint works, having felt betrayed by Japan. She then moved to Hawaii until her death on January 11, 1943 of cancer.

Visit the official facebook page of Scent of Korea to see more of her works.

Korean folk tale : Why the sea is salty

Hundreds of years ago there was a king who had a very unusual stone hand mill. It looked like any other stone hand mill but it had special powers. All one had to do was say what one wanted and turn it and out would come what had been requested. If gold was requested, gold would come out. If rice was requested, rice would come out. Whatever was requested, the small hand mill would produce it.
A thief made up his mind to steal the hand mill because once he had heard of it he couldn't get it out of his mind. For days and days he thought about how to steal it but he could not come up with a plan.
Then one day he dressed like a scholar and visited a court official who had access to the royal palace. They chatted about this and that and finally the thief said, "I heard that the King buried his strange hand mill in the ground because he doesn't trust his ministers."
"What's that? The King doesn't trust his ministers? Where did you hear such talk?"
"That's what they say in the countryside," said the thief, happy he had sparked the man's interest. "They say the King dug a deep hole and buried the hand mill because he is so afraid that someone will steal it."
"That's nonsense!" said the official. "The King's hand mill is beside the lotus pond in the inner court."
"Oh, is that so?" said the thief, trying to control his excitement.
"No one would dare try to steal the King's hand mill," said tht official. "Who would even think of trying when the thing is lying right beside the lotus pond where there is always lots of people coming and going."
The thief was so excited that all he could say was "Yes" and "That's right" until he was able to leave.
For many days the thief studied the situation. Then one very dark night, he climbed the palace wall and stole the hand mill from beside the lotus pond.
He was brimming with pride and confidence as he made his way back to the wall. But once outside the palace, he was overcome with fear of being discovered. His heart skipped a beat every time he met someone on the street. He decided to steal a boat and go to his hometown to hide because he knew that once the theft was discovered, everyone in the city and on the roads would be questioned.
Once at sea the thief lay back against the bow of the boat and laughed. Then he began to sing and dance as he thought about how rich he was going to be. Then he thought about what to request from the hand mill. He did not want to ask for something common and easy to obtain.
"Salt! Salt!" he suddenly shouted. "I'll ask for salt! Everyone needs salt. I can sell it and become a rich man. I'll be tht richest man in the country."
He fell down on his knees and began turning the hand mill, singing as he did, Salt! Salt! Make some salt! Then he began dancing and singing about being a rich man.
And the hand mill kept turning and turning. Salt spilled over the sides of the small boat but the thief just kept dancing and singing and laughing, all the time thinking about the big house he was going to have and the numerous servants who would serve him lavish meals.
Finally the boat was so full of salt that it sank to the bottom of the sea. And, since no one has ever told the hand mill to stop, it is still turning and making salt, which is why the sea is salty

Suzanna Crowder Han, 1991, Korean Folk & Fairy Tales

Hyewon Shin Yunbok

Born in 1758, Shin Yun bok better known as Hyewon is a famous painter of the Joseon dynasty. His father Hanpyeong and grandfather were also royal court painters. Hyewon was known for his realistic despictions of daily life of his time. He was very influenced by his contemporary Kim Hong Do said  Danwon, yet he developed his own style and technique. He was an expert at many genre such as paiting landscapes, animals…and eroticism though Confucianism considered sexual pleasure as taboo . At that time, during the period of king Young Jo and king Jeong Jo also known as the renaissance of the Joseon dynasty, Chinese erotic culture widespread among middle class people. Hyewon showed different sceneries of Gisaengs entertaining Yangbans . He used very bright colors and used the whole canvas unlike traditional paiting. His creations were very important since they offered an insight to lifestyle and costumes. 30 of Shin Yun Bok’s painting in the album “Hyewon pungsokhwacheop” were designated as the 135th national treasure of Korea in 1970.

See more paintings HERE

According to the historical drama The painter of the wind and the movie Portrait of a beauty, Shin Yun Bok was a woman dressed like a man to become a painter. Both the movie and drama, claim that Kim taught Yun Bok how to paint, and that their friendship turned into love.

Portrait of a beauty

The painter of the wind

The story behind Hangeul

From the very beginning, ancient koreans have used Chinese as a language to express themselves. However, in order to delay from chinese people and to communicate freely, Koreans elaborated a new language of their own. They called it : Hangeul 한글.

What is Hangeul ?

Hangeul or -by its original name- 훈민정음 Hunmin Jeongeum, translated into "The proper sounds for the education of the people" ; is composed of 28 letters. This language is spoken by 78 people worldwide and is classified as a Ural-Altaic language.

Old-Korean 고대국어:

The old-korean is a reconstuction of the primitive korean language or proto-korean. 고대국어 appeared during the three kingdoms of Korea [ Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla ] around the 1st to the 10th century. The dialects of each kingdom may have been different but they all form what is called 부여 Buyo languages. Sillan language is known for the 향가 Hyangga, and when Silla took over the other kingdoms, its dialect became the native language of the korean peninsula. 

Middle-Korean 중세국어:

Picture of Sejong the great the creator of hangeul on korean money

The middle-korean apeared along with the establishment of the Goryeo dynasty by king Taejo Wang Kon in the 10th century. 

In year 1392, a new kingdom was founded : Joseon kingdom. As the 4th king gained control, he came up with very brilliant changes :

"As the language of our nation does not fit easily with characters, our people cannot                      communicate in a free manner. We concidered this to be a woeful state of affairs and created 28 letters, so all of you should be able to utilize them with ease and make your life more comfortable"

King Joseon the great was the one who first created Hangul as a pure korean alphabet, and aimed to that koreans from all classes would read and write.

Modern Korean 근대국어:

After the korean war and the division of Korea into North and South , the language knew some changes and many english influences. 

Korean new year 2013

The korean new year said 설날 Seollal, is the first day of the lunar calender. This year (2013), it is going to fall on the 10th February. Koreans usually get 3 days of vacation to celebrate this holiday with their family.

Customs :

Koreans must be really busy on normal days, but the new year is an occasion for the whole family to meet up, enjoy a great time together and honor the ancestors. Moving to grand parents' house causes a huge traffic on the roads, it takes a longer time to arrive at one's destination. But once there, all the stress is forgotten.
As usual, women get in charge of preparing all the yummy food. And 설날's special dish is 떡국 Tteokguk; a sort of soup made of beef and finely sliced rice cakes. And once you're done eating your 떡국, you are one year older.
In the past, the celebration used to start at 3am because -as it was believed- the spirits would be in motion before the first rooster cries. For that reason, koreans would stay up all night.
The korean new year is also known for 새배 Saebae wich is a big bow that the younger family members do to their seniors. In return, they are given money and words of wisdom.

Games :

The new year is a ceremony, as we meet, we have fun. And to enjoy their time, koreans play several games during 설날 such as 윷놀이 Yuttnori which is a board game played by the whole family. 제기차기 Jegichagi an outdoor game in which the player needs to kick the 제기 Jegi in the air to prevent it from falling. The winner is the one with highest number of kicks. Another game is 널뛰기 Neolttuigi played by two women/girls. Each player jumps on a side of the 널 Neol which is the board propelling the opposit person in the air. .

설날 2013 or the year of the snake :

The snake is one of the twelve divine guardians called 십이지신 Sibijisin. The tradition says that each one of us has specific characteristics of the animal that marks our birth year. You were born on the year of the snake if your birth year is 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013. People born on one of these years are known for being hardworkers and tend to be perfectionists.