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Sound of OLD KOREA

As the original court music of the Joseon Dynasty, Jongmyo Jeryeak (royal ancestral ritual music) was performed at the Jongmyo Shrine during ceremonies for the eternal repose of deceased kings of the dynasty.

Each procedure of the ritual involved performing various pieces of music and dance. The court music was originally composed in 1447 during the reign of King Sejong and has thus been handed down for almost 600 years.

The hand down of Jongmyo Jeryeak was in risk during the Japanese colonization of Korea (1910–1945). This is because the court music represented the dignity of the Joseon Dynasty, which is something that the Japanese colonialists would not want to preserve in Korea. Although the Japanese government heavily reduced the number of court musicians, the musicians themselves founded the Korean Court School of Music to train students. Elizabeth Keith had a chance to watch the performance of Munmyo Jeryeak (ritual music in the Confucian Shrine) in the early 1930s and later on created several etchings of the court musicians.

This valuable heritage is now at the top of Korea’s Important Intangible Cultural Heritage List and has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

K28  Court Musicians resize
K22 The Gong Player (resize)
K21 The Flute Player (resize)

The New Romantic

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