Hahoe village in Andong City (described in the previous post) is famous for preserving its traditional drama featuring masks, known as ‘byeolsingut talnori’.
The original purpose of the masked drama was to serve as a shamanic rite to appease the god Seonangsin. There’s more information here.
The drama makes fun of the elites in society, particularly the yangban class, but also features a lustful monk.
In the Joseon era, masked dramas satirizing the upper class were common throughout Korea. The yangban class tolerated these dramas since they preferred to be mocked than to deal with an actual revolt.
The Hahoe Mask Drama is performed every Saturday at the theatre next to the Hahoe Mask Museum (you can read about the founder of the Hahoe Mask Museum here).
However, during the Andong Mask Festival, the mask drama is performed inside Hahoe Village itself, in the Mansongjeong Pine Forest, which is between the built-up part of the village and the river. All of these photos were taken there.
I didn’t understand any of the dialogue since it was all in Korean, but that was not the point. It was pretty clear that it featured stock characters and made fun of people, like a commedia dell’arte play.
My German companion thought it was a bit boring. I can understand. It’s not exactly a suspenseful drama, at least if you don’t understand Korean.
However, I didn’t expect this to be a thriller. The backdrop was awesome, I liked that they had all of the musicians in traditional clothing, and I was interested in seeing all of the stock characters and watching how they behave.
All in all, I am glad I saw it. It gave me a hint of what common people in the Joseon Kingdom felt and thought, and I enjoy live theatre in general. People who don’t go to Andong itself can watch the drama on Youtube.