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Andong International Mask Dance Festival 2000


The International Mask Dance Festival was first held in Andong in 1997. That first festival was just a small little thing, one long weekend in length, and though it featured some of the most famous traditional performers in Korea (such as Kim Duk-soo and Ahn Sook-sun) it was nothing compared to the well organized, incredibly fascinating spectacle put on this year.   Through trial and error the Mask Dance Festival has now emerged in my opinion as one of the most memorable, fascinating and fun times to be had in Korea.  Now featuring a permanent stage area, with a state of the art sound system and bathrooms with paper towels in them (gasp), the most interesting sites are not always on the stage.


The Festival every year invites performers from several other nations, and these performances supplement the shows put on by Korean mask dancers.  In 2000 the foreign groups were from Thailand, Senegal, China (Tibet), Guatemala and Japan.  In addition to the mask dances there were children's art contests.  Contests for ssirum (wrestling), and other traditional Korean games (jaegi, yulnori, yuldwigi etc.).  There were poongmool performances, and reenactments of various traditional events.  There were also demonstrations of Korean traditional arts and crafts with the demonstrators spinning, doing calligraphy and embroidery.  There was a booth for one to learn how to make a bowl, complete with potter's wheels and glazes, and exhibitions of traditional foods from various regions.  There were places where you could buy traditional crafts and foods, and tents for festival restaurants.  There was a market area with various modern Korean goods at low prices and Puppet Theater showing puppet shows from around the country. Young people had shows with hip hop dancing, DJ acts and a Western style band on the same stage where pansori, minyo and other traditional musical acts were presented.  Another stage had a non-stop shamanistic performance, starting around 11 a.m. when the festival started up and ending as the last people packed up to go home at night.  One rather odd fellow even did some performance art, where he walked around in bare feet on a huge sheet of plastic as it was rippled by the audience and drew on it with lipstick and shaving cream while he blew on a whistle and threw around large pieces of stuffing.   

In addition to the events at the Festival Grounds (a short walk from Andong Bus Terminal and train station) there are periodic events in Andong city itself and at Hwawoe village, the traditional village and home of one of the most famous mask dances in Korea.  Some of the most special sights include the lighting of ropes strung across the river from the cliffs to Hwawoe village and the releasing of hundreds of lighted lotus lanterns on the river next to the festival grounds (an event which is led by local monks who told me the same ceremony has been held in Andong for more than a thousand years!).


The Festival is held every year for two weekends and all the days between them, usually at the very end of September, into the beginning of October.  



Girls in hanbok play yulnori

 Festival Pages:

Japan   Past Years at the Festival   Shamans  Senegal  Tibet I  Tibet II

 Other Korean Pages:

Andong Int'l Mask Dance Festival  Court Dancers  Farmer's Music  Korean Funeral  Kumdo (Sword-form Martial Art)  Susung Girl's Middle School  Home

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The uniquely dangerous Korean see-saw (yuldwigi)


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