Abstract

The Republic of Korea has been protecting the ephemeral performative artistic and cultural phenomena collectively labeled intangible cultural heritage since passing the Cultural Property Protection Law in 1962. This long history of performance protection has positioned the Republic of Korea as an example for efforts around the world to protect intangible cultural heritage. The focus of South Korean protection efforts is performance and transmission; this article addresses the transmission occurring through intensive camps. Participant observation-based ethnographic research was conducted at two sites, the training camps for the mask dance drama Kosŏng Ogwangdae and for the farmer’s drumming and dancing group Imsil P’ilbong Nongak, to determine the effectiveness of the camps in transmitting performing arts knowledge. The young people who enroll in these camps represent the future of the South Korean traditional performing arts; some students are bound for professional performance, while others are active members of their respective preservation associations. The camps employ full-time, professional performers and create a pool of audience members and arts advocates. The students of the camps build community while they time travel to a liminal space where every day is the day before or the day of the big festival; their positive experience of Korean tradition leaves them connected to and supportive of the traditional arts.

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