Category Archives: Pansori 판소리

History of Pansori

The first point of time when we can confirm theexistence of Pansori through literatures is the reign of King Youngjo in Joseon Dynasty. In the collection of works of Hwa-Jae Mahn and Jin-Han Yoo who lived during the reign of King Youngjo, there are 200 phrases of Choonhyangga (which is called ‘Manhwabon Choonhyangga’), which is the oldest records regarding Pansori. The contents of Manhwabon Choonhyangga are almost same as the present Choonhyangga. A long story was translated into a short poem so the details are unknown, but there is no difference between the past and the present in terms of the outline of the story, ‘forming a relationship ? love ? separation ? difficulties ? reunion’, and the characters. This tells that people started to sing Pansori before the middle part of the 18th century, that is, around the end of the 17th century.

It is thought that the early Pansori was based on the populace. It was sung and listened by the people. However, with the 18th century coming in, Pansori got penetrated into the noble and intelligent, and met recorders. In this process, it went through several changes. [Manhwabon Choonhyangga] is a product of such process. In the Chinese poetry consisting of total 50 phrases, namely, Gwan-woo-hee written by Man-Jae Song around 1810, 12 Batangs of Pansori and the names of singers like Choon-Dae Woo, Sam-Deuk Gwon, Heung-Gab Moh, etc. appear.
The noteworthy thing in relation to the existence format of Pansori in this period is the reason why Man-Jae Song wrote Gwanwoohee. He said, “My country has customs that once a son passes the state examination, his family invites clowns to let them sing and perform skills. Last spring, my son passed it, but I am too poor to hold a banquet so I am composing this poem.” It tells that Pansori in the early days existed in the form of being invited for a successful event like passing the state examination. In other words, Pansori existed, together with a feast, to commemorate an important chance in life.
However, it is thought that Pansori in this period was much simpler and poorer than the present in terms of music or story.

Park Dong Jin, Master of Pansori(1916.7.12-2003.7.8)



Park Dongjin, master of Pansori as Human Cultural Asset No. 5, who likes to say that we should take ours precious, put his heart and soul into art, overcoming indescribable hardships.
Now passing his age of 80, he built Pansori Instruction Hall at his hometown Mureung-dong, opening the opportunities of education for him to teach Pansori, Danga or Bukjangdan, how to drum, etc. to younger generation so he could foster his juniors and transmit Pansori to them. Visitors may listen to and see his Pansori personally on the scence.

Pansori as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage

A Name

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity: “The Pansori Epic Chant”.

Characteristics of Pansori

The Pansori Epic Chant is a form of singing-like narration by a Sorikkun (a singer) accompanied by drumbeat. It comprises songs full of expression, talking style with fixed form, various repertoire, and imitative gestures. It is a traditional performing art in Korea that eliminates boundaries separating the Yangban (the upper class) from the commoners. 

World Intangible Cultural Heritage Programme

The World Intangible Cultural Heritage Programme emerged from the realization of the importance of not only tangible but also intangible aspects of heritage, overcoming the value-orientation which favors tangible cultural assets such as monuments, treasures, and natural sites. The Programme recognizes communities, groups, and individuals as important parts of cultural heritage and defines the intangible cultural heritage to include practices, representations, knowledge, skills, and materials including related instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces. 

International Value of Pansori

Pansori is a national folk performing art which has constantly evolved and developed, uniquely embodying the creativity, emotions, and desires of Korean people amid the germination and development of modernistic consciousness in the late Joseon age (18th century).

Pansori fuses various genres of cultural art such as folktales, Muga, Gwangdaenoreum, Pannoreum, Sinawi, folksongs, and Jeongak, and is a conglomerate of intangible pieces of Korean traditional cultural heritage that has unified the genres in pursuit of vocal music. 

Pansori is a traditional cultural art, which serves as strong evidence for national identity by combining the cultures of all socioeconomic classes, synthesizing the linguistic culture of all people in Korea and uniting excellent artistic inspiration and popularity in terms of history, art, nation, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and literature.

Pansori showcases the creative talents and technical application of Korean people. It functions as an integral part of Korea’s rich culture to this day.

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Korean Music, Pansori 판소리