Friday, June 29, 2012

Comparing Styles: Video of Kim Myung Soo Teaching The Korean Powdered Tea Ceremony

Above is a video of tea master Kim Myung Soo teaching the Korean powdered tea ceremony to Pedro. One studied extensively under Kim Myung Soo and directed Pedro to her on his second trip to Korea. He did pretty good as this is his first time learning the ceremony. This is how the tea ceremony is often taught to individuals, they are placed facing the teacher and just continue to go through the motions until the routine is put to memory. It is refined a bit and individual differences or very slight modifications are tolerated.

 You will instantly notice upon watching the video that this tea ceremony is quite different than the Korean powdered tea ceremony video of Hong Kyeong Hee. This is completely normal and accepted in Korea as the powdered tea ceremony has no strict prescribed pattern that has been passed down. Rather basic principles are followed and naturalness is most prized. Of note is that both Hong Kyeong Hee and Kim Myung Soo's ceremonies are almost exactly 10 minutes long.

In Hong Kyeong Hee's ceremony he is just a little bit unnatural and robotic in this movements at the beginning of his performance. This could just be from nerves as he settles into more natural movements and pace as the tea ceremony progresses. Sometimes his tea ceremony feels as thought it lacks some natural feeling with the pauses being too poignant and slightly overdone with not enough fluidity between actions. Nonetheless, it is a great powdered tea ceremony.

Kim Myung Soo's ceremony has much more of a natural flow. Her movements are relaxed, unpretentious, and have a nice continuity to them. They seem a bit more genuine. Of course this may have a bit to do with the fact that she is not preforming this ceremony in a foreign country in front of an audience.

What is most important is the lesson that Kim Myong Soo expounds at the end of the video. She reveals that the true core of all Korean tea ceremonies has less to do with timing, pace, and movements and more to do with the sincerity of the connection between the heart and mind of the host and guest. The tea and the ceremony surrounding it acts as a conduit to strengthen this bond.



Eric G. said...

One reason Hong Kyeong Hee was a bit "robotic" was because he had a cold. Given that, i think he did a pretty good job.

Matt said...

Eric G,

A cold, nerves, maybe jet lag, considering everything "he did a pretty good job"!

Thanks for giving us an insider's view of this performance. Get the feeling that overall everyone in attendance was moved by the ceremony and that's what counts.


Jason M. Cohen said...

Dear Matt,

I think it is hard to judge from the video,
But the preformance had a proufound effect on the packed room,
And despite being a full house, the ceremony was silent except for the Dangedum.

It is very intresting to compare though!

All the Best,

Matt said...

Jason M. Cohen,

The video and especially the commentary seems to suggest that Hong Kyeong Hee's tea ceremony really did touch everyone in attendance. Again, this is something that can only be attained by something that is beyond just movements alone and is really hard to capture on video or to quantify or describe in words. This is the Korean Way of Tea.

As Kim Myung Soo suggests, he must have made a connection through the ceremony thereby touching the hearts and minds of those sharing in it.