13th Mungyeong Saejae Arirang Festival
Annual Mungyeong Saejae Arirang Festival, held since 2008, is taking place in Mungyeong city in North Gyeongsang Province on June, 13th, 2020. With participants from Korea, China, Japan and Vietnam, the Festival, hosted by the Mungyeong Municipal Government and Mungyeong Cultural Committee, has received wide media coverage from local and national media.
Kyongbuk Ilbo newspaper mentioned that the Festival sparked high interest among elder audience due to the participation of the young trot Singer Cho Myeong Seop, the winner of KBS1 'I like singing - I like trot' contest last year. ‘It is time to combine various musical genres to promote Mungyeong Saejae Arirang’, says the President of Mungyeong Cultural Committee, Mr. Hyun Han Geun.
Woori Munhwa newspaper pointed out continuous support that Mungyeong Arirang Festival receives from the mayor of Mungyeong city, Mr. Ko Yoon Hwan. ‘This year we are planning to open the Arirang cultural space in out local airport’. The mayor also contributes to the promotion of Arirang culture overseas, for instance, by visiting and supporting the Sakhalin Arirang Festival in Russia.
‘One of the goals of the Festival is to alleviate the stress from ‘Corona 19’ situation by performing traditional rituals meant to drive away the evil. The flashmob organized by the members of various Arirang organizations is planned to be held during the Festival, reports the news portal news.
Because of the Covid-19, participants from abroad could not join the Festival. Still, the organizers found a solution - foreign performers from Japan, China and Vietnam residing in Korea were invited to participate at the 13th Mungyeong Saejae Arirang Festival. Performers from Japan will be performing the song ‘Itsuki Lullaby’ (‘Itsuki no komoriuta’) at the Festival. “Its motive, unlike other Japanese folk songs written in quadruple meter, is performed in triple meter, just like Arirang. And, like Arirang, it is a song about ‘sweet sorrow’. We believe that it might have Korean roots. Maybe Koreans who moved to Japan a long time ago and missed their homeland, came up with this song or somehow influenced it and that is why it has some similarities with Arirang. Or it could also be a proof of our mutual cultural background”, says Jyunko Ubukata, Headmaster of the Japanese Ensemble.
The Vietnamese performers first met at the rehearsals. These are all individual performers who didn’t even know each other before the festival. Yet, they managed to prepare a spectacular show to introduce the audience to Vietnamese traditional music and dance.
Unlike the Vietnamese group, participants from China have been professionally performing as an Ensemble for a long time. For their performance, Chinese graduate students from Seoul National University and Hanyang University selected Chinese songs that have similar meaning to Arirang - songs about mountains, paths, and of course love.
Asia Today newspaper published an article about the youngest participant of Mungyeong Saejae Arirang Festival - a 9-year old second-grader Kim Gyu Rang. Gyu Rang is a local student who’s hobby is piano and reading Chinese characters. She is proud of her region’s cultural and historical background and is very excited to perform on the big stage this time.
Saemyeong Ilbo newspaper covered all the important measures taken by the organizers to prevent the spread of ‘Covid-19’ during the Festival, including performing in the open air, social distancing and live-streaming the show through the YouTube channels of Mungyeong Municipal Government and Gugak Newspaper. ‘Arirang is the song about overcoming difficulties and we believe it will also help us overcome Covid-19 together’.
Just like Arirang lifted people’s spirits during the smallpox outbreak in the 1930s, organizers and participants of Mungyeong Arirang Festival hope that it will help them to overcome this difficult time as well.