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(Yonhap Interview) Korean music master Kim Duk-soo reflects on 60 years of music life

2017/10/26 11:15

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SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) -- Korean traditional percussion music "samulnori" should be more systematically studied and theorized in order to be passed down for generations to come, said Kim Duk-soo, a master of the genre.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Kim said setting up a standard for the genre is very crucial to getting it more widely enjoyed in and outside Korea.

"It is homework for me to work on building a global standard for samulmori. Also I hope to establish a global association of the genre, like that for taekwondo," he said.

Now 65, Kim still vividly remembers the day he first took the stage for samulnori performances. He was five.

"People cheered loudly for me and it felt like I am dominating the whole world. I had never felt that way before. The feeling at that moment drove me to keep going around the world playing janggu," he said, referring to the traditional double-headed drum.

Kim Duk-soo plays janggu prior to an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Oct. 26 (Yonhap) Kim Duk-soo plays janggu prior to an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Oct. 26 (Yonhap)

On Nov. 3, he is set to stage a performance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his debut at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.

"I am very grateful that I have been able to play janggu for the past 60 years. On the other hand, I feel obliged to pass down what I've learned during that period to the next generations."

   He played a crucial role in creating samulnori.

In 1978, he and some like-minded musicians got together to modernize an outdoor musical play consisting of traditional musical instruments. The musicians chose the most basic and important four instruments -- janggu, buk (barrel drum), jing (large gong) and kkwaenggwari (small gong) -- to create a new genre that is more suited for a systematic performance indoors.

"I believe the four instruments represent the sound of Korea. They were born out of Korean life and culture. They were played during a funeral, a war, a party and while people worked on rice paddies."

   Six decades ago, his mother opposed him joining the itinerant troupe "Namsadang" with his father. And he still feels the public isn't very excited about the traditional, grass-root music.

Despite the generally lukewarm reception, he vowed to dedicate himself to it for the rest of his life.

"I hope this beautiful sound of ours lasts for ages. That is why I keep doing it. I won't let go of the janggu sticks until I die."

  

Korean music master Kim Duk-soo poses for a photo prior to an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Oct. 26, 2017. (Yonhap) Korean music master Kim Duk-soo poses for a photo prior to an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Oct. 26, 2017. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr

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