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Dano holiday and Gangneung

#Sounds of Korea l 2023-06-08

Sounds of Korea

Dano holiday and Gangneung

May 5 by the lunar calendar is Dano, which usually falls around early June by the solar calendar. This year is a leap year, delaying the arrival of Dano to June 22nd. The most famous Dano custom is the Gangneung Danoje단오제 Festival, a well-preserved traditional celebration that was inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005. The festival features both Confucian ceremonies and shamanistic rituals as well as a folksy mask dance, traditional games and an outdoors market. The Gangneung Danoje Festival begins on April 5 by the lunar calendar, one month ahead of the actual holiday, with the brewing of a sacred wine offered to the gods. It is followed by a five-day shamanistic ritual that begins by inviting the mountain deity of the Daegwallyeong대관령 Ridge to a shrine in the city of Gangneung. This ritual is hosted by the several villages situated near the Daegwallyeong Ridge, so the event naturally draws a huge crowd and lots of fun activities. When the deity is escorted to the city shrine, people are said to light the way with lanterns and sing a song entitled “Yeongsanhong영산홍.” Today’s first song is “Yeongsanhong” sung by creative gugak group Anaya.

Yeongsanhong/ Sung by Anaya

Yeongsanhong or rhododendron indicum is the name of a flower belonging to the azalea species. Presumably, this song was inspired by the sight of colorful lanterns coming down the mountain road, resembling fully bloomed rhododendrons. Last weekend, the ceremony of bringing the mountain deity to Gangneung was carried out, and the Danoje Festival will kick off in earnest from June 20th.  

The Danoje Festival is not the only iconic cultural legacy of Gangneung. Gyeongpodae경포대, one of the eight most scenic sites in Eastern Korea, was designated a treasure. Gyeongpodae pavilion is a long-standing architectural gem that has inspired many learned gentlemen to write poems about the beautiful view of Gyeongpoho경포호 Lake. A poem entitled “Twelve Balustrade” written by a nobleman named Shim Yeong-gyeong심영경 in the late Joseon era describes twelve balustrades adorned with blue jade and the spring scene of Gangneung reflecting in the mirror. The twelve balustrades indicate Gyeongpodae pavilion and the mirror the placid Gyeongpoho Lake. Let’s listen to “The Twelve Balustrades” sung by Kim Yong-woo and the guitar played by Shin Hee-jun while imagining a clear, sparkling lake with a couple of seagulls flying overhead. 

The Twelve Balustrades/ Sung by Kim Yong-woo, guitar by Shin Hee-jun

Gangneung is not only known for its beautiful sights but also for its songs. “Odokddegi오독떼기,” a weeding song that was sung while farmers weeded the rice paddies, was designated an intangible cultural asset of Gangwon-do Province. It is said that the song was probably passed down from the Silla신라 period when hwarang화랑, directly translated into flower knights, a corps of young elite warriors, supposedly came to Gangneung to train. The song’s words were lost and only its melody is preserved to this day. Another tale about its origin involves a county magistrate who liked the sound of “Odokddegi” so much that he called the farmers to the county office to put on a performance. 

Weeding is a job that requires many workers and is done on hot summer days. The slow-paced song helps the workers to keep their pace and not tire out so easily. When you listen to the song, try to imagine the sweaty, hard-working farmers doing their job while encouraging one another with this song. Here are three singers – Kim Jin-seok, Lee Jin-ki, and Kwon Young-ha – singing “Gangneung Odokddegi.”

Gangneung Odokddegi/ Sung by Kim Jin-seok, Lee Jin-ki, Kwon Young-ha

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