ANDONG, North Gyeongsang Province -- At the heart of Korea's dynamic performance culture is the captivating tradition of "tal" and "talchum" -- masks and mask dancing.
This form of masked performance art unveils a hidden world of storytelling and symbolism, enchanting audiences.
Since the period of the Three Kingdoms, talchum has been more than entertainment. Masks have the power to empower individuals to air secrets, stir up deep emotions and recount age-old tales, creatively challenging the social hierarchy through fictional narratives.
Talchum was identified as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2022.
The Hahoe Mask Museum is located inside the well-known Hahoe Folk Village of Andong, North Gyeongsang Province.
The museum offers a unique exploration of the rich tradition of Korean masks and mask dance dramas. The village itself is celebrated for its Hahoebyeolsingut, a genre of mask dance drama rooted in shamanistic rites that honor the communal spirits and banish malevolent forces.
The museum was founded in 1995 by Kim Dong-pyo, a master artisan of the Hahoetal masks.
Kim's unwavering passion for Korean masks led him to a lifetime of studying and collecting masks from around the world.
His dedication extended to crafting traditional Hahoe masks especially for Hahoebyeolsingut. Today, over 90 percent of tal used in talchum performances in Andong have been made by Kim, according to the museum. Beyond Korea, Kim's travels have taken him to Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa, amassing a vast collection of foreign masks showcased year-round.