Dance & Song: “Ganggangsullae”

Ganggangsullae is a traditional Korean harvest dance which began over 5,000 years ago. It is exclusively performed by women and involves singing, dancing, and playing. It is performed under the brightest full moon of the whole year to bring a bountiful harvest. The dance began due to traditional Korean religions at the time believing that the sun and moon controlled the universe.

It was a revolutionary societal and cultural development at that time in Korea’s history as women up till that point had largely been forbidden from singing loudly or going outside at nighttime. The proud Korean women sang very loudly during Ganggangsullae, enjoying the momentary freedom from conservative patriarchal restrictions it gave to them which they commonly used to vent many frustrations and anger regarding their poor status in what was a heavily male-dominated society.

In recent years, while both nations hold Ganggangsullae celebrations annually, it is more prevalent in the north where cultural traditions such as these celebrations have been maintained significantly more so. There have even been more modern versions of the dance and song by the DPRK to keep its appeal, as shown by the Wangjaesan Light Music Band and Dance Troupe below.

And here is a more traditional version of the dance for reference.

 

 

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