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Global Pungmul Institute

Global Pungmul Institute (GPI) is a Chicago-based 501c3 non-profit organization. As a community-based cultural and educational organization, GPI is dedicated to promoting traditional Korean cultural and performing arts. Korean drumming called pungmul or nongak has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nature of this performing art form is coupled with solidarity in the community and a sense of shared identity among community members. Pungmul involves four main instruments: kwenggari (small gong), jing (large gong), janggu (hourglass drum), and buk (barrel drum). The two gongs signify the heavens, while the two drums signify earth. The small gong symbolizes thunder and lightning. The large gong symbolizes the wind. The hourglass drum symbolizes rain, and the barrel drum symbolizes clouds. The playing of these instruments thus signifies the harmony of nature and people. Pungmul players usually wear clothes with five different colors, which is associated with ‘five elements’: Blue (Wood, East), White (Metal, West), Red (Fire, South), Black (Water, North), and Yellow (Earth, Center).