Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
Sound Postcard: K-Town Celebrates “Jinshinbalpki”

The drummers were dressed in black and white tunics with colorful sashes and played traditional instruments…

By Susan M. Lee

At the start of the Lunar New Year, when New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio sent out a holiday greeting, saying “New York City is exceptionally proud of its vibrant Chinese community,” it irked some Asian American civic leaders and the mayor received some chiding. These community leaders said his words failed to acknowledge that other Asian groups in the city, like Koreans and Vietnamese, celebrate too.

Last Sunday, for the Year of the Horse, the nonprofit MinKwon Center for Community Action coordinated and revived a custom called “jinshinbalpki,” a Korean tradition to celebrate the new year. The revival entailed drummers visiting businesses along 32nd Street in Manhattan’s Koreatown to wish them luck. The drummers were dressed in black and white tunics with colorful sashes and played traditional instruments (the janggu, buk, kwenggari and jing). They moved from one K-Town business to the next wishing the owners luck in the coming year. Patrons at establishments like Woorijip Restaurant and H-Mart, paused mid-lunch or mid-shop, to look on while tourists snapped photos as the troupe made its way down the block.

In this audio postcard, Susan M. Lee speaks with Elisa Ghang of MinKwon Center about the Korean tradition, which typically occurred in villages.

[meteor_slideshow slideshow=”sound-postcard-ktown”]