Jeong Nyum, chief monk of Woljeongsa, presents the programs of the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism announced on Tuesday that it will hold the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival from October 8-10, an annual celebration that offers visitors a chance to experience Korean Buddhist culture.

The festival will mainly take place at Woljeongsa, a temple on Odaesan in Pyeongchang, Gangwon province.

“After becoming the main Buddhist monks of Woljeongsa, I tried to combine various cultures of Odaesan that developed over 1400 years with modern culture to breathe new life into the festival. I hope this will bring a sense of refreshment, peace of mind and a culture of healing to people, ”Jeong Nyum, chief monk of Woljeongsa, said at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday.

Music director Kolleen Park talks about the musical performance, to be held at the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival, at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The chief monk especially pointed out that he had prepared a musical performance during the festival for the first time this year.

“Woljeongsa has many cultural heritages and the most iconic is the octagonal nine-story stone pagoda of Woljeongsa, which has been designated a national treasure,” said Woljeongsa’s chief monk.

The monk added that there was a culture of going around the stone pagoda that he wanted to preserve. To do this, he decided to create a musical on the pagoda to draw more attention to the tradition and enlisted the help of music director Kolleen Park.

“I got a call from Woljeongsa and they told me they wanted to do a musical at the temple. It was hard for me to imagine at first, ”Park said. “Then I discovered the chief monk’s reflections on the revival of pagoda culture. Then an article I wrote in 1998 about pagodas came to mind. I thought I could do it if it was the pagoda.

Park’s musical title is “Lepaka Muryang” and the full version of the show is slated to be played in 2023. A brief preview performance will take place at Woljeongsa Temple during this year’s Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival.

“The musical will be completed two years later and during the festival in October about six songs will be performed as a showcase,” Park said. It will be played on October 8 at 3 p.m. at the Woljeongsa Temple.

“Lepaka means stonemason in Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan language) and the story centers on stonemason Muryang and the queen,” Park said.

In the musical field, the young and talented stonecutter Muryang must undergo a difficult training to become the best craftsman in his field. Queen Hyeryu, who ascended to the throne early, decides to build a pagoda that can help protect her power.

“We can’t use the lighting because we’re playing in daylight. So I focused on showcasing the music and our choreography. The stage will be set up in front of the pagoda, so we will mainly use the natural landscape as a background, ”Park said.

18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival Poster (Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism)

18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival Poster (Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism)

Muryang will be played by musical actor Shin Sung-soo and Queen Hyeryu will be played by Kim So-hyang. Additionally, Baeksan, a man who taught Muryang how to make stones, will be played by Hwang Sung-hyun.

“I don’t know if these actors will also be performing for the finished musical later. But for this festival, we are preparing it with joy, ”said Park.

Besides the musical, the festival organizer said he will organize various programs such as an environmental talk session and a traditional Korean folk music performance, an exhibition of student paintings on Odaesan Mountain and a calligraphy competition.

By Song Seung-hyun ([email protected])