Pansori is a genre of musical storytelling performed by a vocalist and a drummer.This popular tradition, characterized by expressive singing, stylized speech, a repertory of narratives and gesture, embraces both elite and folk culture. During performances lasting up to eight hours, a male or female singer, accompanied by a single barrel drum, improvises on texts that combine rural and erudite literary expressions.

The term Pansori is derived from the Korean words pan, meaning “a place where many people gather”, and sori meaning “song”. Pansori originated in south-west Korea in the seventeenth century, probably as a new expression of the narrative songs of shamans. It remained an oral tradition among the common people until the late nineteenth century, by which time it acquired more sophisticated literary content and enjoyed considerable popularity among the urban elite. The settings, characters and situations that make up the Pansori universe are rooted in the Korea of the Joseon period (1392-1910). Pansori singers undergo long and rigorous training to master the wide range of distinct vocal timbres and to memorize the complex repertories. Many virtuosos have developed personal interpretive styles and Read more about this element on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage website.

Country profile

Capital: Seoul
Region: Asia and the Pacific

Related Information

  • Route: Maritime
    Domain:
    Performing arts