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‘Tradition is a part of life, rather than something special’

Aug. 12, 2023 - 16:00 By Lim Jae-seong

Oh Hai-sun, 25, first joined a nongak crew as a middle school student. There he fostered his interest in the traditional Korean music genre.

“I have never lost a day to practice performances with my friends every lunchtime. I enjoyed the moment. We participated in a series of competitions and won some prizes, which also increased my interest in nongak,” Oh said.

Oh plays jing for Gochang Nongak, traditional music created and developed by farmers in the coastal county of Gochang, North Jeolla Province. The jing is a metal percussion instrument akin to a gong.

He is also a member of the Gochang Nongak Cheongchun Gutpae, an official youth troupe to perform Gochang Nongak.

“I am not a professional player, so It is difficult for me to strike a balance between the bread-and-butter things and nongak,” Oh said.

“When performing, I want to play better and put more effort into the music. But I am short of time to fulfill the standard I want to reach,” he added.

Still, he says he is proud of keeping the tradition alive.

“I think tradition is something that becomes a part of my life, rather than something special that must be secured as it has been. Might our ancestors not have had the same view?” Oh said.

“As our ancestors’ daily life became the tradition, my ordinary life will let the tradition continue,” he added.

Nongak has become a firm part of Oh's life.

“I feel the biggest excitement when a performance reaches the end and all the team shares the emotion ‘It was great,’” Oh said.

“I meet people of diverse backgrounds to perform together and create new stories for my life. This gives me the power to endure and carry on my daily life,” he added.

Photos by Im Se-jun

Written by Im Se-jun, Lim Jae-seong