Goseong Ogwangdae, whose name is known to have originated from traditional belief in the Five Elements, is a form of traditional folk performance developed in the southern part of Korea including Goseong, hence the name.
Initially, Goseong Ogwangdae was performed by the Ogwangdae troupe on the eve of the Daeboreum (full moon of the 15th day of the first lunar month), but it gradually came to be performed on other festive days in spring and autumn as well.
Goseong Ogwangdae can be traced back to the 1910s when a group of masked dancers in the Namchon Sect happened to watch a performance of the Tongyeong Ogwangdae (Mask Dance Drama of Tongyeong) which inspired them to develop their own version.
It was later influenced by the Changwon Ogwangdae (Mask Dance Drama of Changwon), too, when it developed five dances to form each episode, namely, the Leper’s Dance, Ogwangdae Dance, Monk’s Dance, Bibi Dance, and Jemilju Dance.
These dances are presented by a total of nineteen characters including Leper, Malttugi, Won Yangban, Cheongje Yangban, Jeokje Yangban, Baekje Yangban, Heukje Yangban, Hongbaek Yangban, Jongga Doryeong, Bibi, Bibi Yangban, Monk, Bride, Old Man, Old Woman, Jemilju, and Servant.
Each performance focuses on the life of commoners, the complex relations between people from different rungs of society, and the absurdity and hypocrisy of Confucian aristocrats and Buddhist priests.
Unlike the performances by other Owangdae troupes, its dances lack elements of the shaman’s dance, which was performed to expel evil forces, and instead include more entertaining elements.
Performers of Tongyeong Ogwangdae wore paper masks in its early days, but recently they have begun to use masks made of paulownia wood or gourds.
Tongyeong Ogwangdae is now inscribed on the list of Important Intangible Cultural Heritages.