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Traditional Korean mask dance almost sure to be UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage

All News 09:23 November 01, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- The traditional Korean mask dance, or "talchum" in Korean, is almost certain to be added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

According to the homepage of UNESCO on Tuesday, "Talchum, Mask Dance Drama in the Republic of Korea" was recommended for inscription on the list during a subpanel meeting of its Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The final decision will be made during the 17th committee meeting next month.

This undated file photo shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance during a local festival. (Yonhap)

This undated file photo shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance during a local festival. (Yonhap)

South Korea has 20 entries on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage lists -- the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. They include "ssireum," or traditional Korean wrestling, which was inscribed in 2018 following joint efforts by South and North Korea.

Talchum combines dance with an accompanying narrative and has the characteristics of both performing arts and drama.

Like other traditional Korean communal performances, talchum relies on humor and satire to depict social problems.

The genre involves two-way interaction, relying on the audience's response, such as jeering and cheering, for the show to progress.

The Cultural Heritage Administration considered talchum's influence on Korea's modern arts in its application for inscription on the UNESCO list.

According to the agency, the repeated recreation of talchum in Korean history helped bolster the identity and continuity of the Korean community.

Talchum has many different variations depending on regions. Currently, 13 regional versions, including those from Tongyeong, Yangju and the North Korean county of Pukchong, are classified as National Intangible Cultural Heritage.


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