MinKwon’s Korean-American Cultural Troupe of New York, Binari, is best known for its performance of poongmul, an ensemble of traditional Korean percussion instruments representing various elements of the universe. The music dramatizes the work and play, joy and struggle, bounty and toil of human existence.
Honoring our Roots, Embracing a Vision of Social Justice
Historically, poongmul carries a tradition of activism and cultural pride for Koreans and oversea Koreans alike. Through this cultural activism, Binari provides a sense of heritage for 1st and 2nd Generation Korean Americans and Korean adoptees – as well as a source of community pride for Asian Americans.
The MinKwon Center’s Binari cultural troupe develops skills in playing poongmul through weekly workshops and practice sessions. Together, Binari members play and perform for immigrant rights rallies, marches, and other events to help create a positive energy at these events, unify the crowd, and carry a message of social justice and hope for the wider-community.
Celebrating Lunar New Year, Unifying the Community
Binari’s activities culminate in an annual Lunar New Year festival called “Jishin Balpggi” (지신밟기), or “Stepping on the Spirits of the Earth.” Through the Jishin Balpgi celebration, Binari seeks to revitalize the Korean folk tradition of a community poongmul troupe that travels around the village to visit village residents, drive out negative energy, and bless them with good fortune, hope, peace, and prosperity in the New Year.
Binari celebrates and updates this tradition by visiting Korean store owners in Flushing and Manhattan’s Koreatown, playing Poongmul for small business owners and their store customers to wish them good fortune and peace for the New Year. Every year, this event energizes and invigorates the Korean American community, while also serving a unifying purpose by drawing in a diverse, multi-ethnic audience to celebrate, dance, and share in the musical festivities together.
Although Poongmul is rooted in the Korean American community, Binari seeks a broader vision of engaging audiences of diverse, ethnic backgrounds to promote cultural diversity and harmony in this multi-cultural society.