18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival to sing for hope through musical

By Song Seung-hyun

A preview performance of musical “Lepaka Muryang” directed by Kolleen Park will be held during the18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival

  • Published : Sept 30, 2021 - 09:05
  • Updated : Sept 30, 2021 - 09:05

Jeong Nyum, head monk of Woljeongsa, introduces the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival programs during a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism on Tuesday announced that it will hold the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival, an annual celebration to provide visitors a chance to experience Korean Buddhist culture, from Oct. 8 to 10.

The festival will mainly take place in Woljeongsa, a temple on Odaesan in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.

“After becoming head Buddhist monks of Woljeongsa, I have been trying to combine various cultures of Odaesan that developed over 1,400 years with modern culture to bring new life to the festival. I hope it can deliver a sense of refreshment, peace of mind, and a healing culture to people,” Jeong Nyum, head monk of Woljeongsa said during a press conference held in Seoul on Tuesday. 

Musical director Kolleen Park talks about musical performance, which will be held during the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival, at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The head monk especially highlighted that it had prepared a musical performance during the festival for the first time this year.

“Woljeongsa has many cultural heritages and the most iconic one is the Octagonal Nine-story Stone Pagoda of Woljeongsa, which was designated as a national treasure,” the head monk of Woljeongsa said.

The monk added that there was a culture of going around the stone pagoda that he wanted to preserve. To do this, he decided to create a musical about the pagoda to draw more people’s attention to the tradition and asked for help from musical director Kolleen Park.

“I received a call from Woljeongsa and they said they wanted to do a musical at the temple. It was hard to imagine for me at first,” Park said. “Then I found out about the head monk’s thoughts on reviving culture related to the pagoda. Then a piece that I wrote back in 1998 about pagodas came across my mind. I thought I can do this if it is about the pagoda.”

Park’s musical title is “Lepaka Muryang” and the full version of the show is set to be performed in 2023. A brief preview performance will be held at the Woljeongsa Temple during this year’s Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival.

“The musical will be completed two years later and during the festival in October around six songs will be performed as a showcase,” Park said. It will be performed on Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. at Woljeongsa Temple.

“Lepaka means stonecutter in Sanskrit (Old Indo-Aryan language) and the story centers around stonecutter Muryang and the queen,” Park said.

In the musical, young and talented stonemason Muryang has to go through difficult training to become the best craftsman in his field. Queen Hyeryu, who ascended to the throne early, decides to build a pagoda that can help protect her power.

“We cannot use lighting because we are performing in daylight. So I focused on showcasing music and our choreographies. The stage will be set up in front of the pagoda, so we will mostly use the natural scenery as our background,” Park said. 

Poster of the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival (Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism)

Muryang will be played by musical actor Shin Sung-soo and the Queen Hyeryu will be played by Kim So-hyang. Also, Baeksan, a man who taught Muryang how to craft stones, will be played by Hwang Sung-hyun.

“I am not sure if these actors will also perform for the completed musical later. But for this festival we are preparing it with joy,” Park said.

Besides the musical, the festival organizer said it will hold diverse programs such as a talk session about the environment and Korean traditional folk music performance, exhibition of student’s Odaesan Mountain paintings and calligraphy contest.