National Magic of Korea with Time-Honoured History

Magic tricks are a type of acrobatics which makes people have an optical illusion about matters and phenomena by means of manual dexterity, tools and scientific principles.

Korea has a long history of magic.

The Korean ancestors performed magic tricks in the period of the Three Kingdoms (early third century BC-AD mid-seventh century when Koguryo, Paekje and Silla existed together), and developed them in a more diversified way in the period of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392).

It is recorded that a clown burned down a ship by mistake while playing fire vomiting when King Uijong, the 18th monarch of Koryo, was watching some games, including Suhui (a kind of acrobatic feat) in the waters of the Ryesong River.

This shows that such magic tricks as fire vomiting were performed in the period of Koryo.

Ri Saek, a literary man in the closing years of Koryo, wrote in his poem that civil entertainers played such various tricks as fire vomiting and dagger swallowing.

These magic tricks seemed very mysterious to spectators.

Such functional magic tricks as untying the knots of a twisted string, word puzzle and coin tricks were more diversified in the days of the feudal Joson dynasty (1392-1910).

Magic tricks were later called Ollun as magicians hoodwinked the spectators through their manual dexterity. Ollun means flickering in English.

The heritage of national magic, a product of the resourcefulness and wisdom of the Korean ancestors, played its part in further enriching and developing national acrobatics.

Today, the National Acrobatic Troupe is further developing the national magic in conformity with the ideological feelings of the Korean people and the requirements of the times.

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