Rhythm, beat, beauty and movement all unite in Sinaboro’s third annual concert on Saturday. Sinaboro is the University’s traditional Korean drumming group that aims to raise awareness of Korean culture in the Michigan Community. The group performs a type of music called Poongmul, which utilizes four instruments representing natural elements; the Janggo and Buk drums symbolize rain and clouds while the Kkwengari and Jing stand for lightning and wind, respectively.
The Poongmul music has its origins in the agricultural communities of Korea where it was used to express happiness and thanks after the harvest season. Now it is being employed to increase solidarity and awareness between students and traditional Korean culture and political rights. In 1978 the music was revolutionized and adapted for stage performances and concerts. Currently the music is practiced at almost every major university in the nation.
Sinaboro, itself, formed in 1998 with just nine members. Currently, the group is comprised of thirty enthusiastic students who practice once a week, shaking the walls with their motivating beats. The group isn’t all work, as Sinaboro president Hahna Kim states, “In addition to everyone being passionate about drumming, I think everyone likes coming together and having fun.”
The word Sinaboro means little by little or gradually without notice. The group seems to have kept true to its name by slowly growing and impacting the community. This year, in particular, they are trying to increase attention on substance abuse problems at U of M. Two years ago Sinaboro member Byung Soo Kim died of alcohol poisoning just after his twenty-first birthday. The drummers are donating all ticket sales to his memorial fund, which endeavors to educate students on substance abuse issues.
The upcoming show differs from past annual concerts in that there will be a “Romeo and Juliet” subplot with feuding families. Besides the Sinaboro students, a group of adopted Korean children from the community will also be performing along with the Korean Students Association group, presenting modern Korean dancing. The theme for this concert is “Love of a Century.” This ties into both their “Romeo and Juliet” subplot as well as honoring the one-hundredth anniversary of Korean immigration, a time filled with trials and difficulties in terms of discrimination, but is ultimately a kind of love story. Sinaboro, a group where everyone is welcomed, attempts to cross Korean ancestral differences. “It is better to be united as one, as Sinaboro, then apart from each other,” Kim says.
During this year’s concert, which has more of a play aspect than in previous years, there will be two kinds of drumming and three types of dancing including mask, sword and fan dancing performed by Sinaboro. The group feels that the play aspect will add a new and interesting dimension to the concert, which is important to Sinaboro. The group’s president said, “I feel good when people really enjoy themselves at the show.”