The traditional culture of Korea refers to the shared cultural heritage of the Korean Peninsula. Since the mid-20th century, the peninsula has been split politically between and, resulting in a number of cultural differences. Before Joseon Dynasty, the practice of Korean shamanism was deeply rooted in the Korean culture.
Music, there is a distinction between court dance and folk dance. Common court dances are jeongjaemu (정재무) performed at banquets, and ilmu (일무), performed at Korean Confucian rituals. Jeongjaemu is divided into native dances (향악정재, hyangak jeongjae) and forms imported from Central Asia and China (당악정재, dangak jeongjae). Ilmu are divided into civil dance (문무, munmu) and military dance (무무, mumu). Many mask dramas and mask dances are performed in many regional areas of Korea. The traditional clothing is the genja, it is a special kind of dress that women wear on festivals. It is pink with multiple symbols around the neck area.
Traditional choreography of court dances is reflected in many contemporary productions.
Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art, is central to the classic Korean dance. Taekkyeon, being a complete system of integrated movement, found its core techniques adaptable to mask, dance and other traditional artforms of Korea.
The traditional dress known as hanbok (한복, 韓服) (known as joseonot [조선옷] in the DPRK) has been worn since ancient times. The hanbok consists of a shirt (jeogori) and a skirt (chima).
According to social status, Koreans used to dress differently, making clothing an important mark of social rank. Impressive, but sometimes cumbersome, costumes were worn by the ruling class and the royal family. These upper classes also used jewellery to distance themselves from the ordinary people. A traditional item of jewellery for women was a pendant in the shape of certain elements[which?] of nature which was made of precious gemstones, to which a tassel of silk was connected.
Common people were often restricted to undyed plain clothes. This everyday dress underwent relatively few changes during the Joseon period. The basic everyday dress was shared by everyone, but distinctions were drawn in official and ceremonial clothes.
During the winter people wore cotton-wadded dresses. Fur was also common. Because ordinary people normally wore pure white undyed materials, the people were sometimes referred to as the white-clad people.
Hanbok are classified according to their purposes: everyday dress, ceremonial dress and special dress. Ceremonial dresses are worn on formal occasions, including a child’s first birthday (doljanchi), a wedding or a funeral. Special dresses are made for purposes such as shamans, officials.
Today the hanbok is still worn during formal occasions. The everyday use of the dress, however, has been lost. However, elderly still dress in hanbok as well as active estates of the remnant of aristocratic families from the Joseon Dynasty. Though this may be changing with something of a modern interest in the traditional dress among some of the young.
FESTIVALS OF THE LUNAR CALENDAR:
The traditional Korean calendar was based on the lunisolar calendar. Dates are calculated from Korea’s meridian. Observances and festivals are rooted in Korean culture. The Korean lunar calendar is divided into 24 turning points (절기, jeolgi), each lasting about 15 days. The lunar calendar was the timetable for the agrarian society in the past, but is vanishing in the modern Korean lifestyle.
The Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in 1895, but traditional holidays and age reckoning are still based on the old calendar. Older generations still celebrate their birthdays according to the lunar calendar.
The biggest festival in Korea today is Seollal (the traditional Korean New Year). Other important festivals include Daeboreum (the first full moon), Dano (spring festival), and Chuseok (harvest festival).
There are also a number of regional festivals, celebrated according to the lunar calendar. See also Public holidays in North Korea and Public holidays in South Korea.
The original religion of the Korean people was Shamanism, which though not as widespread as in ancient times, still survives to this day. Female shamans or mudang are often called upon to enlist the help of various spirits to achieve various means.
Buddhism and Confucianism were later introduced to Korea through cultural exchanges with Chinese dynasties. Buddhism was the official religion of the Goryeo dynasty, and many privileges were given to Buddhist monks during this period. However, the Joseon period saw the suppression of Buddhism, where Buddhist monks and temples were banned from the cities and confined to the countryside. In its place a strict form of Confucianism, which some see as even more strict than what had ever been adopted by the Chinese, became the official philosophy.Korean Confucianism was epitomized by the seonbi class, scholars who passed up positions of wealth and power to lead lives of study and integrity.
Throughout Korean history and culture, regardless of separation, the traditional beliefs of Korean Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism and Confucianism have remained an underlying influence of the religion of the Korean people as well as a vital aspect of their culture. In fact, all these traditions coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years. They still exist in the more Christian Southand in the North, despite pressure from its government.