Beautiful Drummers: Pungmul on Campus

"Hey, freshman, you’re the most beautiful when you beat the drum!"

“Hey, freshman, you’re the most beautiful when you beat the drum!”

The first day of this new semester on the countryside campus of Korea University (officially located in the new “capital” Sejong City, actually rather on the outskirts of the nearby village Jochiwon) was quite stressful. I was running from here to there, looking for my students, my contract, and something to eat.

Then I saw this poster in the elevator. It’s a recruitement ad for the “farmers’ music school” (고대농악대) of Korea University, one of the drumming & dancing clubs you find on every campus. Here are some links to the various social media outlets of the club: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Daum. And there is a nice report on the team with many pictures at Lara (라라).

Drumming & dancing is very popular in college and there are teams on all campuses (haven’t counted but I hope so). I had enjoyed a training session at SungKongHoe University (성공회대학교) a while ago. This time, the poster made me laugh out loud.

pungmul performance, CC by hojusaram via Flickr www.flickr.com:photos:7122909@N05:484406569

pungmul performance, CC by hojusaram via Flickr http://www.flickr.com:photos:7122909@N05:484406569

It is a spoof of ads for home-delivery that are currently all over the subway, branded as “Baedal-ui Minjok” (배달의 민족), literally “home-delivery-nation”.

a real poster I saw on campus: "Hodu, wanna eat some chicken?"

a real poster I saw on campus: “Hodu, wanna eat some chicken?”

Almost daily, I pass different posters featuring actor Ryu Seung-ryong (류승룡) in various poses with localized taglines. The original ads parodied in the drumming & dancing-poster can be found, according to an article on The PR News (더피알), mostly in Women University-areas and reads “You’re the most beautiful when you eat.” Is this an empowering message to supposedly diet-driven female students? I don’t think so…

There’s a nice play on the “delivery-nation” in the top right: The drumming club “protects and honors the nation’s tradition”. I’m looking to see the team in action some time soon!

— 4 March 2015 (水)

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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4 Responses to Beautiful Drummers: Pungmul on Campus

  1. violamuse says:

    I realize there are different cultures among universities. In Yonsei whose foundation has a strong christian and bourgeois culture, I think there are growing number of Idol(singers)-mimicking groups and African-american music groups. Activist song group seemed to come close to student-composed song group about 10 to 15 years ago, but these days it became obviously Rock group. When it comes to tradition music group, I have not seen its recruiting poster, so I don’t know if it is still exist. Therefore I was very surprised when I saw your pic. which is very creative and shows their ‘vivid’ culture.
    Anyway looking at you had a laugh about the poster, you seem to understand Korean culture very well. :)
    And plus, I solved some technical(but it was just about directions for this site…) problems. Thanks for your concern!

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m no expert on campus music, so thanks a lot for your thoughts and experiences — I have seen pungmul/samulnori dongaris at Sogang, SongKongHoe, and Korea University, so I suppose it’s still existing. Judging from the tone of the poster, I suppose that this dongari is not as politically engaged as those in earlier times — but who knows?

  2. violamuse says:

    Actually ‘Baedal’ is a proper noun which is refer to ancient Korean people. So korean people hear this name when they are in school. Many students made fun of this name, but who could ever imagined that such a name would be the company name? It’s very witty and clever;) and it’s very natural in some sense main idea of ‘배달의민족’ used for nongak band’s poster for recruitment. The meaning of the post, as I read, seems nongak band is waiting for members who are nationalistic (but not in a strict sense) and humorous.
    I have more things to write,,, but next time.. I’ll back again! :)

  3. violamuse says:

    I think if you are interested in this theme, you can survey fluctuation of member of pungmul group in different universities. Then you can analyse if more capitalized universities have less pungmul members.
    I think this can be interesting topic if this subject meet a sound scholar, but I have not even learned quantitative analysis. ;) There seems many interesting topics in this world, but finding a proper way to research is not easy. Thanks for reading my unripened idea. ^^

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