Anatomy of a K-Performance


One of the things I LOVE about living in Korea is the diverse number of live shows available to watch. If you’re thinking along the lines of a typical play or musical from the states, you’re in for a change and a treat.

Korean Performance shows (K-Performance) have some basic things in common:

1) Many are “nonverbal”, so that audience members of any nationality can understand and enjoy them. Great examples of this include Miso and Nanta.

2) There is usually some form of audience participation involved in each show – the proverbial “4th wall” of a play or musical (where the actors do not acknowledge the audience) is completely broken in K-Performance. This is done in varying ways. So far I’ve witnessed actors conversing with the audience, casts reacting to children, unsuspecting audience members being pulled on stage, and shows where they have the entire audience dance in the finale, such as with Sachoom.




3) A number of K-Performance shows involve a fusion of modern music and dance with the more traditional Korean style, called Gugak. Gugak translates to “national music” and can include Pansori (singing), Sanjo (instrumental music – including instruments such as the gayageum, haegeum, daegeum, and janggu), and Nongak (“farmer’s dance”). One example of a fusion gugak show is Fanta-stick.


4) Along with the Fusion Gugak, don’t be surprised if a bit of B-boy dancing, K-Pop, or Rap happens during a show. And don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe when the show ends – you just might get asked to show off your dance moves during the encore (like I did, when I got pulled on stage to dance to “Gangnam Style” after a ballet!)


5) Many K-Performances will have the cast come out to the lobby afterwards for a photo session, as well as open a souvenir shop. Be sure to wait those extra few minutes to get your picture taken with your favorite cast member or get an autograph!


If you’re interested in seeing a K-Performance (and I highly recommend that you do!), you can get a current schedule and purchase tickets:

-online from the K-Performance website;

-by stopping by the KTO Headquarters;

-by inquiring at your local USO for packages;

-on post (at Recreation Centers or the DHL Discovery Desk)

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