Behind the mask

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Buchaechum (부채춤), or ‘fan dance’ is a traditional form of Korean dance usually performed by groups of Korean female dancers.

Koreans use this dance during many celebrations. Dancers use large fans painted with pink peony blossoms and display a show of dance. In the dance being performed, the dancers represent shaped images using the fans e.g. birds, flowers, butterflies and waves. (Source: Wikipedia)

During the dance, the fans are manipulated to look like dancing hibiscus flowers. The dancers’ beauty and grace are said to attract the same attention the same way beautiful flowers in nature attract bees.

As I saw videos of North Koreans dancing the fan dance, I was riveted by how fluid the movements were, almost hypnotizing even. But as much as I found myself attracted to the dance, I found myself being drawn into the gaze of these North Korean dancers. Outside, they all carry smiles on their faces but who knows what lies behind the stage mask that they wear during the dance performance?

Seemingly perfect facades might not be all that representative of what actually lies beneath the surface.


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Currently living and pursuing my undergraduate studies in South Korea.

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