South Korea’s music education environment has been playing a large role in cultivating public sentiment and Liberal arts. However, it is about to go through a major change. “The 2022 Revised Music Curriculum for Department of Music,” which will be finalized and released at the end of this year, will omit gugak, or Korean traditional music related parts in “the achievement standards” meaning academic achievement goals, according to news reports.
Currently, six gugak related parts are included as the achievement standards and elementary, middle and high schools’ music textbooks devote about 30 percent to 40 percent to traditional Korean music. Regarding the response from The Ministry of Education that it will remove the term, “Gugak” in textbooks, the dominant opinion is “gugak education will be reduced when there’s a change in the curriculum.”
According to the Statistical Yearbook for Employment, the education and job match rate for gugak was 80%. Since gugak is a field with high education-job match rate, many are deeply concerned about the change in the curriculum.
Earlier, the reduction of Korean History education has negatively affected those preparing for the college entrance exam and seeking jobs for a long time. Against this backdrop, many are raising questions about what will replace gugak.
Amid growing concerns in the education and journalism communities over reduced gugak education, Song Ga-in, a famous female trot (a genre of Korean popular music) singer, emphasized the importance of teaching gugak.
|Song Ga-in, a gugak-turned-trot singer, is the first winner of the reality audition show Miss Trot aired on TV Chosun Channel.|
“I heard that many people are showing interest in Gugak and visiting Gugak academies to learn it after watching my performances. I feel proud and happy to hear that a lot of people are looking for Gugak musicians to learn these days. I know what Haegeum is as I learned gugak while I was attenging school school at a rural area. It would be a shame not to know what our traditional music and instrument and Arirang are as a Korean,” remarks from Song Ga-in’s regular album ‘Love song’ press conference.
She argued, “I’m able to stand here right now because I learned Gugak. Gugak is the basic and the root which enable us to express ‘han (an inherent characteristic of the Korean character)’ and sorrow. It’s absurd to only learn music form the west. As a gugak musician I couldn’t sit on my hands, I had to do something.”
Song Ga-in is one of the musicians who took action as soon as the gugak education news was released. She said, “I spoke out to support gugak education as it can bring attention to the public. There’s no reason to not speak out.”
Meanwhile, on the 10th of May in the post on her Instagram, she wrote: “If we let go of opportunities to learn “our” traditional Korean music, then what should Korean students learn? It’s frustrating and upsetting that I even have to bring this ridiculous topic up in the first place!”