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Title: Handling the intangible : the protection of folk song traditions in Korea.
Author: Maliangkay, Roald Heber.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2462 2144
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis is a study of how the South Korean government has tried to protect folksong traditions by designating them as Chungyo mUhyong munhwajae (Important Intangible Cultural Properties), a category of national treasures, and by regulating the transmission of these through the appointment of poyuja ("holders"). In 1962, the South Korean government promulgated the Munhwajae pohopop (Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties) on the basis of which a system was set up to protect and promote both so-called "tangible" (yuhyong) and "intangible" (muhyong) cultural properties. The law stipulated that in order to regulate the decision-making process, a committee was to be formed out of specialists of different fields of study, the Munhwajae wiwonhoe (Cultural Properties Committee; hereafter CPC). The CPC subsequently sent its members all over the country to survey and write reports on cultural items, and on the basis of these reports, it could decide to appoint cultural items as national treasures. In this thesis, I show how the system was set up, how the protection of these Intangible Cultural Properties is managed, and what factors have affected the decision-making process. Chapter 1 examines the state of folk arts in Korea after the Pacific War, and the social conditions at the time of the enactment of the Law. It also briefly looks into what its impact has been to date. I define the system's theoretical scope and highlight its limiting factors. Chapter 2 discusses the terminology for Korean folksongs and describes the songs' general characteristics. In chapter 3, I give a historical account of the protection of Korean cultural properties by law. I also examine the current law's main stipulations and explain how the system is institutionalised. Chapter 4 studies the government reports on which the appointments of intangible cultural properties are based and discusses their flaws. Besides the legal criteria, and those generally agreed upon by the CPC members, it looks into what other criteria may affect the appointment of folksong genres. Chapter 5 focuses on the appointed folksong genres, and their "holders," from the province surrounding the capital Seoul, the Kyonggi minyo (Folksongs from Kyonggi Province) and Sonsori sant'aryong (Standing Mountain Songs) respectively. Chapter 6 studies the appointed folksong genre from the now North Korean Hwanghae and P'yongan provinces, the Sodo sori (Folksongs from the Northwestern Provinces), as well as the "one-man opera" Paebaengi kut (Ritual for Paebaengi). Chapter 7 briefly considers the remaining four appointed folksong genres from other provinces in South Korea and highlights the main issues regarding their transmission. In the final chapter, I conclude that although the system has been successful in promoting many traditions, it has so far failed to fully preserve the appointed folksong traditions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available