The Korea Herald


Jeonju International Sori Festival comes to a close with global push

By Hong Dam-young

Published : Oct. 5, 2023 - 15:58

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Anushka Sen poses at Jeonju Hanok Village while attending the Jeonju International Sori Festival (Asia Lab) Anushka Sen poses at Jeonju Hanok Village while attending the Jeonju International Sori Festival (Asia Lab)

The Jeonju International Sori Festival ended on Sept. 24, with the organizers adding global and cross-cultural elements to this year's event as part of their aim to elevate the Korean traditional music festival on the global stage.

The festival, one of the leading cultural events held in North Jeolla Province, ran from Sept. 15 to 24 around Jeonju Hanok Village and 14 other cities and districts of the province. Launched in 2001, this year’s festival was held under the theme of “coexistence and recovery,” featuring a total of 108 performances within 89 programs.

While centering on Korean classical music and pansori, a traditional genre of musical storytelling, this year’s Sori Festival also highlighted global elements by inviting a handful of global musicians and influencers from across the world. Artists from 11 countries, including Canada, Australia, Vietnam, Estonia, Uzbekistan, Poland and the United Arab Emirates, joined the festival to perform their traditional sounds. Another special guest was Anushka Sen, a high-profile Indian television actress and social media influencer, who boasts over 39 million followers on her Instagram account.

Sen, who said it was her first time experiencing Korean traditional pansori, told The Korea Herald, “It’s also my first time visiting Jeonju and I think it's a beautiful city. Also, I’ve never heard anything like pansori, which sounds so magical as well. I’m so excited to explore more of Korean traditional sounds in the future.” Sen, who was recently appointed as an honorary brand ambassador of Korean tourism by the Korea Tourism Organization, went on to express her hopes to become the bridge between Korea and India as she learns more about Korean culture.

As part of the efforts to extend the festival's global reach, cellist-conductor Chang Han-na and cellist Mischa Maisky performed with Ditto Orchestra, while Kang Kwon-soon, a leading vocalist in the traditional Korean music scene, joined hands with harpsichord player Lee Min-joo for a Western touch. The festival also saw a special performance celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada, as well as a collaborative performance that encompassed the traditional sounds of Korea, China and Japan.

“We’ve featured our best performances through diverse programs for this year’s festival with a goal to enhance its artistry and festivity,” the committee for the Sori Festival said during a press conference for the closing ceremony.

“We think it showed a lot of potential for the development of Korea's art scene.”

An opening ceremony was graced by the Jeonju Symphony Orchestra, gayageum player Moon Yang-sook, pansori singers Ko Yeong-yeol, Kim Yul-hee, baritone Kim Gi-hoon and soprano Seo Sun-young. Korean folk song master Lee Hee-moon closed the 10-day festival with a collaborative performance with the band Obangsin.