Bits and BobsThe Cultural Heritage Administration has applied to add talchum to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list

South Korea puts up traditional masked dance for UNESCO bid

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South Korea is seeking to inscribe talchum, a traditional masked dance, on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
South Korea is seeking to inscribe talchum, a traditional masked dance, on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. Photo Credit: Getty Images

DAEJEON – South Korea has put in a bid to add its traditional masked dance to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.

The Cultural Heritage Administration said on Wednesday (1 April) that it has applied to list talchum, a performance art that encompasses dance, mime, speaking and singing.

UNESCO is expected to review and evaluate the technical completeness and the value of the heritage and reveal the decision in December 2022.

Some 18 different types of Korean mask dances are in existence, which each have their own unique acts and masks.

The dance does not require a formal stage and can be performed outdoors, with surrounding audience members. Performers also interact with audience members, whose reactions are considered part of the performance.

Common themes and topics of talchum performances range from satires of pre-modern society highlighting the ruling class and people, to serious themes with humorous elements. Most stories end with all actors in a reconciliatory dance to emphasise harmony.

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