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Korean mask dance added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list

Art/Culture 18:57 November 30, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The traditional Korean mask dance, or "talchum" in Korean, was inscribed onto a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list Wednesday.

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage decided to put "Talchum, Mask Dance Drama in the Republic of Korea" on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 17th session in Rabat, Morocco.

The item was almost sure to be inscribed, as it went through a recommendation for inscription on the list from the committee's evaluation body early this month.

This undated photo provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This undated photo provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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.

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 South Korea's National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Wednesday's addition increased to 22 the number of South Korean entries on the 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 on the Representative List in 2018 following joint efforts by South and North Korea.

In 2020, the Lantern Lighting Festival, or "Yeondeunghoe" in Korean, was added to the list. The festival is held every spring to celebrate Buddha's Birthday.

This undated photo provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This undated photo provided by the Cultural Heritage Administration shows dancers performing a traditional Korean mask dance. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

sshim@yna.co.kr
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