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Moon Oak Joo's Pansori Teachers

Kim Dong Joon

Hong Jung Taek

Kim So Hui

Park Cho Woul

Sung Chang Soon

These Pansori teachers are legendary masters of Pansori. Most of them had already left this world, and are just in our memories especially to Moon Oak Joo. These teachers are the ones who made Moon Oak Joo to be who she is today in Pansori world. She would like to thank every one of these teachers for being so kind and helpful in her journey to Pansori.

First from her vivid memories, Moon Oak Joo still can remember Pansori Master Kim So Hui at the time when she took Moon Oak Joo to Seoul Radio Station after teaching her Pansori. It was Moon Oak Joo's first radio broadcast. Moon Oak Joo talks about how her teacher was waiting just outside of the radio station, behind the clear glass, cheering her on. Moon Oak Joo remembers her bright smile and how excited she was about Moon Oak Joo's first appearance. She complimented Moon Oak Joo for her great performance, and she told Moon Oak Joo that many listeners were calling and asking who the singer was at the time. Moon Oak Joo still smiles big when she talks about that event.

Moon Oak Joo also remembers Pansori Master Park Cho Woul for her kindness. It is because when she was a young Pansori student, Pansori Master Park Cho Woul made a Sam Gae Tahng (whole chicken Korean soup with Ginseng) for her to eat at a corner room without other students knowing it. Moon Oak Joo at the time was very week and her health wasn't at her top level. Moon Oak Joo is still very grateful for her kindness.

These are some of her stories about her Pansori Master teachers.

What is Pansori?

Pansori or commonly called Chang Ghuk is the name for Korean Traditional Operas. It is very similar to the well known Italian Opera where the songs are narratives. Just like Italian Opera, Pansori tells stories that are heart warming and pleasantry. In Pansori, the songs focus on life lessons we all live by.

Although Pansori is similar to Italian Opera, it is very different and much harder to learn and perform. It is because Pansori is performed by a solo singer "Soh Rhee Kkun" and a solo drummer "Goh Soo", unlike Italian Opera where the songs are sang by many different singers and other performances are played by numerous performers. These two performers are heavily depended on one another. One single mistake from the singer or the drummer can throw off one another, and the performance can result in absolute stop due to forgetting where they are from the long storyline.

The singer "Soh Rhee Kkun" gets to be on the spotlight by singing and playing different characters throughout the performance. But, the drummer "Goh Soo" is the source for making the singer "Soh Rhee Kkun" to shine out on the stage. The drummer "Goh Soo" is responsible for generating the excitement and energy to the singer's song and performance. You can observe how important it is for both performers to synchronize the song to the drum beats and sounds. The drummer "Goh Soo" often shouts out to enhance the mood of the singer "Soh Rhee Kkun". When a good singer "Soh Rhee Kkun" meets a good drummer "Goh Soo", you can expect to see a performance of a life time.

Pansori can be considered as the ultimate one man show. It is because one person is singing to a simple drum beats. Because of this reason, it is very difficult to be a Pansori performer. The Pansori singer "Soh Rhee Kkun" has to display different characters and sing in different tones to mimic different personalities in the story. Not to mention, the traditional Pansori singers "Soh Rhee Kkun" had to learn the songs through pure memorization while singing along with Pansori teachers "Myung Chang". It was because traditional Pansori teachers "Myung Chang" did not have written notes or lyrics for students to study by. Amazingly the entire 3 to 7 hours songs were taught using this method. Because of the songs' lengthy nature, most Pansori singers "Soh Rhee Kkun" sing selected portions of the song during the performance. But, it is very important that one knows the entire length of the song. Otherwise, one can't be appreciated as a true Pansori singer "Soh Rhee Kkun".

There are handful of songs left to this day, and they are Heung-Bo Ga, Choon-Hyang Ga, Soo-Goong Ga, Sim-Chung Ga, and Jhuk-Byuk Ga. These songs are filled with many facet of life. They will bring you lots of joy and wisdom. Please check out the links to read about each individual songs, and ask us any questions by emailing to us.

Hope you have enjoyed your reading.