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Festival Named UNESCO Heritage Site

Posted November. 26, 2005 07:19,   


UNESCO adopted the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity to preserve world’s most important cultural assets.

Add the Gangneung Dano Festival to the list.

“Jongmyojeryeak” (royal ancestral shrine music) and “Pansori” (a Korean opera) were included in UNESCO’s first and second masterpiece lists in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

UNESCO has designated 90 global intangible heritage pieces around the globe so far.

The latest selection of Gangneung Dano Festival as an intangible asset comes following pessimistic views, which makes the designation all the more valuable. Many had been critical about Korean intangible heritage assets being accredited for three consecutive occasions following 2001 and 2003. In particular, this feat did not come without other hardships as China argued, “Dano Festival, also a Chinese holiday, is a common cultural heritage in East Asia, so Korea’s independent application for registration is not valid, and it should be done jointly with China.”

Gangneung Dano Festival is a folk festival that is held in Gangneung on Dano (May 5 in the lunar calendar) every year. Gwannogamyeon-geuk (a mask play), the Dano ritual, Ssireum (Korean wrestling), swing, Yut (a Korean board game using four sticks), and various other folk entertainments are unfolded around the Namdae stream in Gangneung, Gangwon Province between March 20 to May 6 in the lunar calendar. It is the largest gala in size on the east coast, which displays the preserved harmony and cooperative spirit of residents.

On the day when news spread, over 500 Gangneung citizens, including Gangneung mayor Shim Gi-seob celebrated the selection of Gangneung Dano Festival as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by tolling the bell of the Imyeong tower at the Gangneung City Hall square, playing Nongangnori (Korean traditional folk music) and displaying fireworks.

Mayor Shim said, “We will designate Haksan Village of Gujeong-myeon, the mecca of the Dano Festival, as a ‘historical village’ and will organize interactive programs to experience the festival and to enhance awareness and internationalize Dano.” Starting April of next year, Gangneung also plans to disseminate English-translated CDs promoting Gangneung Dano Festival to over 1,000 educational institutions, including 13 universities from five foreign countries such as Griffith University of Australia.

Kwawg-Pyo Lee kplee@donga.com