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Tightrope walker
Amazing Acrobatics Earn Tightrope Walker Cultural Asset Status

im Dae Gyun, wows kids and adults alike with his ariel acrobatics and clownish antics on the tightrope. Kim Dae Gyun, is the youngest living cultural asset of Korea at the age of 33. He began tightrope walking at the age of nine. He fell in love with the charm of walking on a tightrope, and spent the following 24 years perfecting his skills. Finally, his training and skill paid off, and along with a little good luck, was officially designated a "human cultural asset" of Korea in January of 2000. He has been well received around the world, performing his acrobatic feats in such places as the United States, Canada, Japan, and France.

The acrobatic feats of walking or dancing on a tightrope were introduced to Korea through China and Central Asia. Originally, wayfaring entertainers in the Middle Ages captivated the people of the time playing the music of the peasants, joking about aristocrats, juggling with chinaware, and performing marionette shows in the large gardens of villages. However, their acrobatic feats on the tightrope were often the most avidly looked forward to of all the acts the wayfarers performed.

Troupes of entertainers often performed their acrobatics for the king, and became very popular in ancient Korea. Two kinds of acrobatics were developed during the Chosun period (1392-1910); one type was a straightforward walking on the tightrope, which was performed by a clown. The other type was Eoreum, or climbing on the tightrope, which was performed by troupe of entertainers. The clown performer was most often invited by the Korean nobles to perform the first type of acrobatics. The troupe of entertainers performed second type of act while wandering from place to place. At present, the ability to walk on a tightrope by a clown is designated as an important intangible cultural property.

Under the stipulations of this property, the length of the tightrope is about 10 meters and is attached to posts about 3 meters in height. It is pulled taught and should not be allowed to loosen or become slack even with the performer standing on it. While walking on the tightrope, the performer has a fan in his hand to balance his body and to add a touch of flair. While walking on the tightrope, musicians bring zest to the acrobatic feats by playing Korean instruments such as the flute, and Jang gu or Korean drum. The music played adds a special flavor to the actions of the artist on the tightrope. There are 43 different kinds of skills performed by the acrobat such as jumping up from the tightrope about 180 centimeters and landing back on the rope. Walking on the tightrope is a basic action, and the clown demonstrates his skill by walking backwards, forwards and lying down. Sometimes, the clown surprises spectators by pretending to fall to the ground during the performance. The aim of the performance is to make the spectators laugh, by joking and singing on the tightrope as well as performing technical feats.

Tightrope walking is something that everyone should see when visiting Korea.

(Sourced from WHAT'S ON SEOUL)

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