World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Northern California Korean Dance Association

Dance Origin: Korea
: Korean Traditional
Artistic Director/Choreographer
: Hearan Chung

First Appearance in SF EDF: 2002

The Northern California Korean Dance Association, created in 2004 by Artistic Director Hearan Chung, fosters and develops Korean culture and dance as cultural exchange between Korea and other nationalities, local Korean immigrants, and Korean Americans. Hearan Chung has mastered various fields of Korean dance including court, folk, and creative dance, beginning her training at age five. She earned an MA from Ewha Women's University, taught for over 20 years in Korean universities, and immigrated to the United States in 2000. She has choreographed over forty-six works of dance, published four theses, and has performed at the Festival, the Asian Art Museum, and the Women on the Way festival at Dance Mission Theater. She was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 2005 and 2007, and was featured in the PBS 2006 SPARK Program. In 2007, Chung received a grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.


Title: Gum Mu
Genre: Korean Sword Dance
Dancers: Hearan Chung, Esther Lee, Lydia Lee
Jung Il Moon

In honor of People Like Me's 15th Anniversary (World Arts West's arts education program), Northern California Korean Dance Association (NCKDA) presents a reprise of Gum Mu as cast members of an abbreviated version of Return of the Sun, the story of Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess.

Hearan Chung plays the role of the Sun Goddess, while NCKDA dancers play her attendants. See NCKDA's 2008 Performance below for background information on Gum Mu.

Jung Il Moon is a Korean instrumentalist and composer who began playing the Piri, a Korean flute, at age thirteen. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in Korean traditional music at Hanyang University, Korea and was principle Piri player for the Korean Broadcasting Station Korean Traditional Music Orchestra. His numerous music compositions include several for Korean traditional dances. He is currently Korean traditional music professor at Woosuk University, Korea and conductor of Junra Bookdo Youth Orchestra.



GENRE: Korean Sword Dance
DANCERS: Hearan Chung, Young Kyu Kim, Yon Chin Lee, Agnes Lee, Ki Sook Chung, Lydia Lee, Esther Lee
INTERNATIONAL GUEST MUSICIANS: wHOOL - Yoon-Sang Choi (Musical Director/Composer/percussion), Hyun-June Juen (ba ra/drum), Hyun-Soo Kim (bak), Si-Youl Kim (daekum), Yea-Rim Lee (piri), Dong-Il Park (synthesizer)

In Korea's ancient Shinra period (57 BCE to 668 CE), a seven-year-old boy named Hwang Chang Yang became famous for his skill with Korean sword dance, gum mu. He was invited to perform gum mu for Shinra's enemy, the King of Baekjae, and while dancing, Yang stabbed the King to death. Unable to escape, Yang was also killed, and Shinra’s people mourned. They crafted masks to look like the young hero, and danced the gum mu in his honor, and the dance became a traditional favorite in royal courts. Originally, men danced with swords and masks, and when women began dancing it in the Chosun period (1392 to 1910), they dropped the masks. Over the centuries, the once dangerous dance evolved a slow and ritualized beauty. Today, its slow movements offer beauty, grace, and peace.

Gum Mu is performed in the costumes worn by ancient Chosun government officials: the junrip, (black hats), junbok (blue vests), and jundae (red belts). Hearan Chung opens the piece with a dynamic solo with two long swords. She is then joined by six dancers who move in slow synchronization, rotating thirty-centimeter-long steel swords in each hand.

The dancers are accompanied by guest instrumentalists from Korea—wHOOL: Yoon-Sang Choi, Hyun-June Juen, Hyun-Soo Kim, Si-Youl Kim, Yea-Rim Lee, Dong-Il Park, They play Korean wind instruments, piri, daegeum, and haegeum, and percussion on the jang gu. A percussion instrument called bak signals the changes of rhythm and speed, and the clash of opening and closing swords sounds a slow, insistent, and elegant marking of time.



TITLE: Shin Kal Deh Shin Mu
GENRE: Shaman

Korean Master Artist Hearan Chung uses a kind of wand called a shin kal, made from layers of white paper cut into thin pieces and attached to a long bamboo stick, in Shin Kal Deh Shin Mu. The shin kal is used in the dying process as a key to open the door to the world of the dead. The dance is performed to protect the dead soul from interference of any evil and to safely lead it onto the next world.

Each element of this dance has deep symbolism. The shin kal wand, held in both hands, portrays the mourning for the dead, the long white cloth used in the beginning of the dance represents the path of the soul, while the cut paper on the wand is considered money used by the soul during its journey to the other world. The powerful shaking movement the shaman creates with the shin kal in hand threatens the devil from attacking the soul, thus freeing the soul to move to the next life.


TITLE: Bi Chun Mu
Folk - Seungmu
Hearan Chung
Buddhist chanting and Ssit-kkim-kut

The specific form of Seungmu performed by Hearan Chung in the 2005 Festival, is a type known as a "creation dance." In Korea, death is not viewed as an end, but part of a revolving cycle of death and rebirth. With its ethereal movements, mesmerizing drumbeats and haunting chants, this dance carries the message of a soul's transformation to a new form of life. The symbolism revolves around a bird preparing to fly away. It is a metaphor for a dead human soul healing itself from the resentments of worldly life, thus freeing it to move to the next life.

The dancer wears the traditional jangsam robe with long ribbon-like sleeves, along with a white triangular hat and long red cloth draped over one shoulder. Each part of the attire represents aspects of a bird. The movement of the sleeves is symbolic of the wings and signifies the human desire to be united with the heavenly spirits. With precise foot steps and a variety of sleeve-tossing techniques, the dance culminates to the sounds of a huge drum.

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