Life and Seoul

Neolttwigi and Jultagi – Chuseok performances

Chuseok is just a week away. There is a particular custom performed at this time of year where two people stand on a see-saw type thing then jump up and down. Neolttwigi/nol-ttwigi (널뛰기) as it is known actually has a defined purpose.

Explanation: Neolttwigi is a giant see-saw that you stand, rather than sit on. By jumping up and down on it, you can, providing that both people (most usually women) are roughly equal in weight, get some serious air. The custom is only really likely to be seen in Korea during the Chuseok festival, usually around September or October (changes due to the Lunar Calendar). The historical point of it was that womenfolk, who were not allowed outside the town walls during the day, were able to get fleeting glimpses of what was going on in the outside world.

If that does not sound challenging enough as a way to see outside you home, then the acrobatic performance of Jultagi (tightrope walking), takes things to another level. Performed around the same time, Jultagi (줄타기) involved musical accompaniment (and sometimes a clown) whilst the performer uses a variety of techniques to walk along the rope. Some of these may include lying down, kneeling then jumping up into a cross-legged stance, and walking backwards.

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