Broken VoicesPostcolonial Entanglements and the Preservation of Korea's Central Folksong Traditions

Broken VoicesPostcolonial Entanglements and the Preservation of Korea's Central Folksong Traditions

Roald Maliangkay

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780824866655

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

Broken Voices is the first English-language book on Korea’s rich folksong traditions, and the first study of the effects of Japanese colonialism on the intangible heritage of its former colony. Maliangkay demonstrates that South Korea’s cultural preservation system, one of the world’s most elaborate, is deeply rooted in the period of Japanese colonial rule. He describes how the three largest folksong traditions, which have all been passed on in and around Seoul, have developed prior to and after becoming recognized as national cultural properties. Although continued government funding for Korea’s national heritage has won over many skeptics, close analysis of the traditions reveals that they have changed significantly since their official designation as Important Intangible Cultural Property. Those changes are, however, not caused by the prevailing image of Japan only, or the system per se, but by a combination of socio-political and economic factors. Since traditions that fail to attract practitioners and audiences are unsustainable, compromises may be unwelcome, but imperative.