THU, JANUARY 28, 2021
My review of a new movie featuring Korean lyrical opera
My review of a new movie featuring Korean lyrical opera
  • weekly, walkintoKorea
  • 승인 2020.07.05 05:00
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By Honorary Reporter Nourhan M. Eldemerdash from Egypt
Photos= Official photos from "The Singer (Sorikkun)

"The Singer (Sorikkun)," directed by Cho Jung-rae, is a movie that premiered on July 1 and whose plot centers on pansori (traditional one-person lyrical opera).

The movie features the pansori songs "Chunhyangga," "Simcheongga," "Sugungga," "Heungbuga" and "Jeokbyeokga," and two songs from minyo, a type of folk song, "Neoyeong Nayeong (You and I Both Dear)" and "Heung Taryeong (The Song of Yearning)."


I was deeply impressed by the way the film displayed traditional Korean songs; the level of perfection in every scene was something I didn't expect.

"The Singer" is about a family in a small village. Shim Hak-gyu (played by actor Lee Bong-geun) is a pansori singer and his wife Gan-nan (Lee Yu-ri) is a tailor. The latter is kidnapped and Hak-gyu decides to go find her. His journey features many pansori songs that also represent several Korean folktales.

The film's beginning provokes warm and happy feelings, especially when the family enjoys beautiful moments together like playing hide-and-seek between the sheets. The scenes are even more touching with beautiful background music.

The movie's middle features a journey that is sad and emotional yet funny and joyful. Hak-gyu and his crew sing to get free food, a sad reality for those of low social status, but they enjoy performing. And the actress who plays Hak-gyu's little daughter Cheong perfectly conveys her emotions on screen.

Music scenes
The song "Galggabuda" is used in a scene where Hak-gyu sings pansori in the middle of a public market to gather people and ask about his lost wife. With the song, the camera shows not only the singer, the drummer and the daughter but everyone who watches the performance: noblemen and slaves, children and adults, high-ranking officials and laypeople. This shows traditional pansori's acceptance of anyone as an audience regardless of age, sex or social class, despite the Joseon Dynasty era being a time of rigid social hierarchy.

Media event
In the media event for his film on June 22, director Cho Jung-rae said he wanted to present pansori in a way to start a new era in film. In casting the role of Hak-gyu, he said he wanted to convey Korea's voice and sentiment to the world. "Among all who applied to join the movie, either graduates of prestigious acting schools or those good-looking enough to attract people, I had no doubt that Lee Bong-geun was the perfect choice for the role," the director said.

The cast also spoke of their experience in making the film. "I was slightly nervous being in a musical movie and singing on stage, but hearing the audience cheering with expressions like 'Eolssigu (Hurray)!' or 'Jota (Good)' made me relax and enjoy the scenes," Lee Bong-geun said.

Lee Yu-ri added, "Everyone was very supportive during shooting and I never felt stress during my unique experience of performing in my first traditional musical movie."

As a student of traditional performing arts at Korea National University of Arts, I felt that every scene in the movie represented an experience in my life since I fell in love with Korean arts and culture. For example, I submitted the song "You and I Both Dear" in my portfolio to get accepted by my university, and speaking on "The Story of Simcheong" was how I won a Korean speech contest in 2018.

This movie is amazing in its connection to every happy moment of my experience in traditional Korean arts and music. After watching it, I feel I'll never tire of it even if I see it dozens of times. After leaving the movie theater, I thought of how many awards this movie will earn, as well as how many foreigners will watch it and perhaps fall in love with Korea's voice like I did.

*This article is written by a Honorary Reporter. Our group of Honorary Reporters are from all around the world, and they share with their love and passion for all things Korean