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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Koreans keep the culture


Students who hear loud, rhythmic drumming in the Student Union definitely won't confuse the beats with any marching band. The Korean Folk Art Club (KFAC), which branched off from the Korean Student Association (KSA), offers students the opportunity to continue the traditions of their home country here at UB.

KFAC was initially rejected as an SA club, but was officially recognized and established 13 years ago.

Since the inception, KFAC has spread to campuses all over New York State, including the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. The organization has also spread to schools in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

All of the instruments used when drumming are from Korea.

"Each instrument represents a sound of nature," said Eunbit Kwak, a junior mechanical engineering major and vice president of the club.

The deepest drumming sound is from the Bhook, which is a large drum that thuds a bass line beat. The Janggoo, a double-sided instrument shaped like an hourglass, is the most widely used instrument in the group. A lot of the complex rhythms in KFAC performances come from this instrument, Kwak said.

The Jing is a large, dish-like instrument that is played similarly to a gong.

The Kwaengari, on the other hand, is meant to represent the sound of lightening. It looks like a miniature gong and is usually one of the leading instruments in the performances. The person who plays the Kwaengari is also the Sang Swai, who is the performance director of the group.

This year's director is Jun Young Chung, a junior mechanical engineering major.

"The exact job I do is to arrange the music together," Chung said. "This year I changed a lot of rhythms."

Chung said that the rhythms that they play come from well-known Korean Folk music that he selects for the group. He also has the power to change certain rhythms within the selected music, to add a personal KFAC touch.

"We have a lot of solo pieces that will be featured in the second semester," Chung said.

Besides performing rhythmic music, the ensemble has choreographed dances to complement the playing.

KFAC President Donghwi Seo, a junior biomedical science major, does a special traditional dance that is separate from the synchronized ensemble. He performs a dance while wearing a Korean hat with a long trailer that spins around. His performance while wearing the special hat represents the sky over nature.

"When I was in Korea I learned how to perform," Seo said. "It took me six months to learn."

In addition to section leaders for each of the instruments, a public coordinator and a social coordinator help with the organization of both practices and performances. This is in addition to the executive board.

Each member is able to choose which instrument they would like to play, but generally upperclassmen play the more challenging instruments. Experienced or not, anyone can join the club.

"Obviously you have to be interested in Korean culture or music," Chung said.

The group always welcomes new members and meets every Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. in the second floor foyer of Knox. The group practices their drumming for both the spirit of the Korean traditions and for future performances.

"When you are playing with so many people, the energy is overwhelming." Chung said. "It is so much fun."




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