Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Republic of Korea


Sword Dance of Jinju


Jinju-Geommu is a succeeding form of ancient Korean sword dance.

Reasons for selection

Geommu is the sword dance that has martial origin. It is worth attention in the point that it has been transmitted as the most ancient item of Korean court dance as well as that it displays the artistic essence of Korean traditional dance. Jinju-Geommu is a modified form that refined the traditional sword dance style as a court dance.

Area where performed

Jinju-Geommu has been handed down and preserved mainly in Jinju, a small city in Gyeongsangnam-do province located in the south-east of Korea for more than 100 years.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Geommu is said to have long history of more than 1,300 years since 660 in ancient Shinra Dynasty. A story about its origin is as follows: A seven-year-old boy called Hwangchang went into Baeckje Kingdom's Royal Court in disguise where he killed the enemy King with a sword while performing Geommu before him. He was arrested and was executed. On hearing of his heroic deeds, Shinra people made his mask and performed Geommu with it in honour of him. There are some other records that indicate Geommu has been a mask dance at least until the end of Koryo Dynasty although it now has changed into an elegant female dance without masks.

The basic rhythmic pattern used in Jinju-Geommu are Yeombul, Taryeong, Jazeun (fast)Taryeong according to tempo. Usually, 8 female dancers perform in various formations and groupings. Especially, its delicate sleeve movements are attractive. Although its martial character has been much diluted as it became a court dance repertory, it still keeps the dynamic spirit of ancient martial dance in its techniques and composition. Jinju-Geommu has been designated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No. 12 in 1967.

Publication and textual documentation

no information at present

Audio documentation

already available

Visual documentation

already available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Society for Preservation of Jinju-Geommu

Data provider

Ms. Young-Il Heo
Professor, Department of Dance
Korean National University of Arts,
Korean National Institute of Cultural Properties
Address: N/A