Yale's Korean drummers entertain
The Yale Unity Korean Percussion and Drum troupe shook Smith Union with dancing, chanting, and drumming last Saturday night. The synchronized rhythm were familiar to Bowdoin students, who for four years have enjoyed the energetic beats of the step team.
However, this sort of unity had a Korean twist with traditional instruments and bright costumes inspired by traditional Korean peasant clothing.
The performance served as the conclusion of Bowdoin's Korean Week, and continued a tradition, as organizer Wanki Park '04 noted. "Last year we had a similar drumming team," he said.
The group is based on a pop group called Samulnori that became popular in Korea during the 1970s, giving Korean drumming from farmland areas a more modern feel. The original group consisted of four men, each with a different drum, the kwaengwari, jing, janggu, and buk. The Yale group, however, consists of 25 members, though only 13 were made the trip up to Bowdoin.
The Yale group began in 1991 when the Korean population at Yale consisted mostly of students who had come directly from Korea and were familiar with Samulnori, which they practiced in their high schools as a form of stress relief.
In an effort to share the culture and practice at their school, the Unity group began. It combines songs from the Samulnori group with its own basic rhythms and then coordinates dance movements with the beats.
Most of them had never done this type of drumming before. In fact, some members of the group are Japanese or African-American.
To be effective, the performers had to communicate with their fellow drummers for the proper unity of sound and dance. This was particularly difficult since the songs included a variety of speeds.
"It was fascinating because they have to use their hands really fast," said Sharon Shin '04.
As an interlude, Bowdoin students Peter Khoury '04 and Jasmine Cronin '04, along with Assistant Dean of First-Year Students Jim Kim, performed a Tae Kwon Do showcase that included some impressive board breaking.
Tae Kwon Do is Korea's martial art, focusing on defense with the hands and feet and characterized by a variety of fast and high kicks.
It was a satisfying experience for the students from both schools, especially since, as co-captain of the team Ahreum Kim said, "a lot of us have never been to Maine before." In spite of the preconception of cold weather that comes with such a visit, the team left the stage grinning warmly.
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