각설이 kaksori, singing beggar

There was an event on in Jongno this afternoon by the Cheonggyecheon stream. There were tents with all kinds of Korean goods and foods for sale and a 각설이 (kaksori) performance. Traditionally kaksori were singing beggars or gypsies travelling from place to place making a living from entertaining people. Sometimes in sageuk dramas there will be a group of kaksori travelling around – the Lee Byeong Hoon sageuk drama Sangdo comes to mind. Today the kaksori is considered an entertainer (not a beggar!)

As we watched, this kaksori was attracting a lot of attention and given money – some down his cleavage too! He’s dressed as a woman (sort of) but sings like a man. He was fascinating to watch and even suited his outfit in a strange kind of way. (See video below, sorry for the abrupt ending) He has two backing musicians who are also selling traditional Korean candy.

 

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