PHOTO ESSAY: Korean cultural performance dazzles audience at UH Hilo

The cultural event, entitled “Arirang,” celebrates the color, drama, song, drums and dance of Korea.

Dancers holding pink fans.
Several folk dances of Korea were performed. Folk dances are an important element of Korean society and are often seen as the “soul” of the people. Above is the fan dance. Photos by Bob Douglas, click to enlarge.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo presented an evening of vibrant Korean performances on Feb. 17. The event dazzled audiences with color, drama, song, drums and dance. The show, which featured cultural traditions of Korea, was named “Arirang,” after a song many consider the unofficial anthem of the Korean nation; a community-based choral group performed the piece (see photos below).

The show was underwritten by a major grant from The Korea Foundation. Support also comes from the UH Hilo Chancellor’s Diversity Committee and SEED—the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Seri Luangphinith, chair of the UH Hilo humanities division and professor of English, brought in over $20,000 in grants in support of this event.

The photo essay below of the evening’s performances is by Bob Douglas. Click photos to enlarge.

Opening Welcome

Above, event organizer and Professor of English Seri Luangphinith (light blue top right, lower left and center), Professor of Drama Jackie Johnson (top center and far right), and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Matt Platz (lower left) welcome guest performers.


“Hala Bada Gut”

Two women in white performing, pulling at a long white piece of fabric.
This is an interdisciplinary performance that incorporates traditional Korean music, dance, and puppetry and brings together a range of different “Koreans.” Dance: Ellen Cho, Trina Nahm-Mijo. Music: Chang Yeol Heo, Deborah Masterson, Sejeong Yoo. Puppetry: Bonnie Kim.

Shadow puppets on a screen.


Mundung Bukchum (Leper Dance with a small drum) 문둥북춤

Masked performer.
A short piece from the Goseong Ogwangdae Korean mask dance-drama tradition. Dancer: Chang Yeol Heo.


Korean Folk Songs

Choir in red and yellow, singing.

The Korean Community Choir performs three very special songs that reverberate among Koreans across the globe: “Arirang,” “Miryang Arirang,” and Gang-gang-sul-lae.”

Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo,
Arirang gogaero neomo ganda
Nareul beorigo gashineun nimeun
Shimrido motgaseo
Balbyeong nanda
Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo,
Crossing over Arirang Pass,
Dear who abandoned me
Shall not walk even ten li (about 4km)
before his/her feet hurt.
“Miryang Arirang”

Look on me! Look on me! Look on me!
In midwinter, when you see a flower, please think of me!
Ari-arirang! Ssuri-Ssurirang! Arariga nanne!
O’er Arirang Pass I long to cross today.

Conductor: Heasook Kim
Accompanist: Mi Hee Kim


  • Ok Yo Chang
  • Kyong Hwa Chang
  • Hwa Shin Kim
  • Tina Kong
  • Yong C Matsuo
  • In Ja Park
  • Joon Sook Park
  • Heajung Ruesing
  • Hyesook Taketa
  • Gina H Vicar
  • Il Son Villesa


  • Eun Sook Lee
  • Stacy Kang
  • Giana Kim
  • Juyoung Yoon


  • Sung K Ahn
  • Namsu Han
  • Jacob Kang
  • Youngho Kim
  • Chan Park
  • Ken Yeo
  • Jimmy Yoon


The Hawai‘i Hiphop Crew

Dancer in modern black costume, doing handstand.
The Hawai’i Hiphop Crew performs “Unbreakable.” The group freestyles to an example of K-Pop music. Dancers: Norman Hakkei, Jr., Cameron Alvarado-Robinson and crew. Music: K-Pop “Unbreakable” by Kim Hyun Joon and Jay Park.


Folk Dances of Korea
Folk dances are an important element of Korean society and are often seen as the “soul” of the people.


HWA GWAN MU (Flower Crown Dance) 화관무

Dancers in red, blue, cream costumes, waving scarves.
Dancers: Ellen Cho, Cynthia Lee, K. Joomi Lee, Mio Sato.


ALSSONG DALSSONG (Two Mask Dance) 알쏭달쏭

Masked dancer in white pants, red dress, hands extended.
Dancer: Mary Jo Freshley.


SOGO CHUM (Small Hand Drum Dance) 소고춤

Three men in white pants, black top, blue/red/yellow design on sleeve, waving white ribbons.
Dancers: Brandon Chong, Jaime Chong, Kyle Hyun.


BUCHAE CHUM (Fan Dance) 부채춤

Women in pink with fans.
Dancers: Ellen Cho, Alexandra Lee, Cynthia Lee, Denise Maile Miyahana, Mio Sato.


PAN GUT (Janggo Drumming) 판굿

Man dancing, holding drum, ribbon spinning from hat on his head.
Pan Gut dancers: Brandon Chong, Jaime Chong, Kyle Hyun.


BARA CHUM (Cymbal Dance) 바라춤

Woman in white and yellow, with cymbals, red lighting.
Dancers: Ellen Cho, Alexandra Lee, Cynthia Lee.


ALOHA SAMULNORI (Percussion Ensemble) 알로하 사물놀이

Two men seated, holding drums above head.
The last piece blends Hawaiian and Korean traditions in a multiethnic performance. Dancers: Brandon Chong, Jaime Chong, Kyle Hyun, Mio Sato, K. Joomi Lee, Denise Maile Miyahana, and Mary Jo Freshley.


This post was updated to correct the title and description of the last piece and to add information about the event organizer.

About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories. 

-UH Hilo Stories