Back in the Early Years of this Century: Kim Myeong-ja’s “Super Wrestling”

KBS Gugak Hanmadang, singer: Kim Myeong-ja, drummer: Bak Myeong-eon (소리꾼 김명자, 고수 박명언 @ KBS 국악한마당)

KBS Gugak Hanmadang, singer: Kim Myeong-ja, drummer: Bak Myeong-eon (소리꾼 김명자, 고수 박명언 @ KBS 국악한마당)

When tuning in Gugak Hanmadang (국악한마당) on KBS this Saturday noon, I was surprised to see, besides some rather predictable fusion acts, the great Kim Myeong-ja (김명자), perform her piece “Mrs. Super’s Wrestling Match” (슈퍼댁 씨름대회 출전기). Hae-kyung Um, who’s translation of the hilarious title I borrowed, summarizes the short work as

a comical caricature of a working-class housewife and corner shopkeeper who covets winning a refrigerator designed for Korean kimch’i pickles at the all-women wrestling contest.

(Hae-kyung Um, “New P’ansori in Twenty-first-century Korea: Creative Dialectics of Tradition and Modernity”, Asian Theatre Journal 25.1 (2008), p. 32. paywall-link)

Why was I surprised?

KBS Gugak Hanmadang, singer: Kim Myeong-ja, drummer: Bak Myeong-eon (소리꾼 김명자, 고수 박명언 @ KBS 국악한마당)

KBS Gugak Hanmadang, singer: Kim Myeong-ja, drummer: Bak Myeong-eon (소리꾼 김명자, 고수 박명언 @ KBS 국악한마당)

First, because I was not aware that Kim, a major activist of the Ttorang Gwangdae-movement in the early 2000s, was still performing this classic piece of “experimental” pansori. Her stage presence was great and she made the audience clap along while roaming around the broad stage.

Kim Myeong-ja (김명자 via 또랑광대)

Kim Myeong-ja (김명자 via 또랑광대)

But also because I was just in the middle of doing some background research on the Ttorang Gwangdae, as my dissertation chapter on “experimental” pansori wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning this loose group of young pansori singers who tried out new ways to reach wider audiences in the early years of this century.

What a coincidence!

For those interested: The National Association of Ttorang Gwangdae published a manifesto in 2004, which I translated a while ago. Keep on rocking!

Oh, and Kim Myeong-ja’s performance is available on Youtube, as I just found out!

(Here you can see an older appearance of her on the same program, presumably on Oct. 12, 2003)

– 13 Feb. 2016 (土)

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in On the Air, Pansori and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Back in the Early Years of this Century: Kim Myeong-ja’s “Super Wrestling”

  1. Pingback: They’re Alive! Ttorang Gwangdae Street Performance in Insa-dong (또랑광대1) | Seoul Stages

  2. Pingback: They’re Alive! First Insa-dong Street Soripan after Ten Years (인사동 거리소리판1) | Seoul Stages

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