Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy Wins Sori Frontier Contest

The Sori Frontier with KB Bank contest took place October 5, 2019 during the annual Jeonju International Sori Festival at the Yeonji Madang stage. The contest has been running for 10 years and seeks to promote new Korean talent in the world music field. The winner of the final competition gets 18 million won. The winner this year was the trio Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy.

Gwon Hyochang – Photo by Angel Romero
Nam Seonghun – Photo by Angel Romero

Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy 이미지 intends to inject new creativity into ‘sangja (box)’, meaning tradition. The three artists combine traditional Korean music with Gypsy swing and improvisation. The band includes Jo Seongyun on guitar; Gwon Hyochang on janggu (drum); and Nam Seonghun on ajaeng (wide zither).

Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy – Photo by Angel Romero

Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy put on a visually fun and lively show. They changed costumes throughout the performance, switching from traditional Korean outfits to enormous white wigs.

Although I enjoyed Sangjaru: Korean Gypsy, my favorite act was Gaak Project 이미지. The group combines fascinating, finely-crafted traditional music from Jeollabuk-do province with subtle keyboards, processed guitars and electronics in an intimate setting.

Gaak Project – Photo by Angel Romero

Gaak Project performs music based on the traditions of Jeollabuk-do province. Band members include Park Hyeonyeong on vocals; ; Lee Dongjun on bamboo flute;  Seo Sujin on ajaeng; Kim Hansaem on percussion; and Park Dongseok on keyboards and guitar.

Gaak Project – Photo by Angel Romero
Gaak Project – Photo by Angel Romero

The last act was Hey String 이미지, a trio of three gayageum players who delivered a set of mesmerizing melodic and avant-garde musical pieces using gayaeums and water-filled glasses. Hey String includes Jihyo Kim on gayageum, glassharp, kalimba; Jihyeon Park on gayageum, glockenspiel, vocals; and Jihyeon Oh on gayageum, percussion, glokenspiel.

Jihyeon Oh , Hey String – Photo by Angel Romero
Jihyeon Park, Hey String – Photo by Angel Romero
Jihyo Kim, Hey String – Photo by Angel Romero

More about the Sori Festival

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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