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American Folklife Center Collections: Korea

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting Korean expressive culture in Korea and the United States in the collections of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.


Lucy M. Long, photographer. Music and dance performance, First Korean School, Silver Spring, Maryland. 1982. Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center

American Folklife Center collections documenting Korean culture in Korea and the United States represent the diversity of its expressive culture. Among its unique collections are songs recorded by several Korean students in Washington, D.C. in 1896 by Alice C. Fletcher; recordings of Korean shamanic dance and music by Karl Signell; recordings of Korean folk and classical music by Lee Hye-gu. The American Folklife Center field collections include documentation of Korean Americans. The Chicago Ethnic Arts Project documented Koreans in Chicago, including traditional dress, painting, music, dance and interviews with artists. The Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project included documentation of a Korean School in Maryland.

Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Collection

The Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project was conducted in 1982 by the American Folklife Center to survey selected religious and secular ethnic community-based schools conducted, at least in part, in a language other than English to document the continued ethnolinguistic and cultural diversity of the United States. The researchers documented the First Korean School in Silver Spring, Maryland, interviewing students and teachers. They observed a variety of classes, including cultural arts such as karate, choir practice, and a music and dance recital.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Public Programming

Sounds of Korea is part of the New-York-based Korean Performing Arts Center (KPAC), consisting of a dance troupe, an instrumental chamber ensemble and a percussion ensemble. Korean performance art includes a wide range of styles and settings, such as classical court music, theatrical masked dance, popular storytelling songs, drama, popular narrative vocal arts, and solo instrumental folk genres, as well as the percussion music and dances of farmers. The group's artistic emphasis is on the subtle grace and beauty found in Korean traditional dances in which the dancers with powerful, yet delicate, gestures and movements reveal a unique aesthetic beauty. The dance troupe was founded and developed by Sue Yeon Park at the organization's inception in 1993, and has maintained an active performance schedule over the past 20 years. Under Park's direction, the organization has performed and hosted performances at major concert venues in the U.S., including Lincoln Center, national museums and national festival stages, introducing Korean music and dance to a wide array of audiences of diverse cultural backgrounds. In addition, Sounds of Korea performance troupe participates in community outreach programs, as well as cultural exhibitions. Its members consist of professionals of the highest caliber and individuals from the Korean community who are dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding and appreciation of Korea's artistic heritage and history. (Event date: July 23, 2014)

Additional Public Programming