Students pose with their janggus and their instructor

Posted On February 5, 2016 By In Korean With 2827 Views

Alexi Explores Korea’s Theatre Culture

The weekend of December 12, 2015, NSLI-Y Korea students learned how to play a traditional Korean drum called the Jangoo (장구) and saw a play, Secretary Bae (배비장전). NSLI-Y Korea student Alexi shares her thoughts on a recent NSLI-Y trip to the theater.

By Alexi, NSLI-Y Korea, Academic Year 2015-2016

Each month we have a different Korean culture theme, and December’s theme was arts.


NSLI-Y students take a silly picture after Jangoo class.

Even though I played the Jangoo three times before at Daewon High School, it is still very hard. While hitting one side of the drum you are supposed to turn your head in the opposite direction. I’ve seen the Jangoo at traditional market performances in Insadong, at Andong during a traditional mask dance (탈줌), as well as during the Secretary Bae play. My entire host family also learned how to play the Jangoo when they were in high school. It is a very important instrument in Korea’s culture. It would be cool to improve my Jangoo skills and show my friends in the U.S. when I return.


The play – its costumes, music, and plot – was absolutely beautiful. I thought it was interesting how it conveyed the Confucian values that we learned in Andong’s Confucian Land. For example, only the men actors were shown studying. And when Secretary Bae was seduced by a woman, he demonstrated the Confucian ideal that people are changeable and can learn from one’s mistakes.


Alexi and her NSLI-Y peers play the Jangoo.

I discussed the play with my Korean grandmother (now lives in the U.S.), who said that this play did not exist when she was a child. I usually learn about Korean culture from her, so it was interesting to teach her instead!

NSLI-Y Korea students take a group photo with the cast of “Secretary Bae.”













Please Enjoy the video I have created from this cultural excursion!

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