April 17, 2024
KCNA Naenara (En)

Family Has a Vocation for Making Folk Instruments

Date: 23/02/2024 | Source: Naenara (En) | Read original version at source

Jo Pong Sam living in Wolhyang-dong, Moranbong District in the capital city of Pyongyang is one of the best national musical instrument makers in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He often goes to the National Symphony Orchestra to enjoy performance.

What brings out the strongest feelings among the numbers is the orchestral music A Bumper Harvest in the Chongsan Plain .

Over 50 years back, the orchestral work was premiered at a theatre.

When the play was over, the audience burst into thunderous applause.

But only a man sat still on his seat, shedding tears of joy.

He was Jo Jung Ho, father of Jo Pong Sam, who worked at the Pyongyang Musical Instruments Factory.

Senior Jo played a large part in improving and developing the folk instruments that had been played for the performance.

He carved a niche for himself in making jotae (fife) and tanso (bamboo flute), and a tanso he made won a prize at the Seventh Pyongyang Musical Instrument Exhibition in 2013.

Decades-long devotion to making folk woodwind instruments earned him such nickname as “ jotae grandpa” among musicians and amateurs.

His fame went to such an extent that they say he or she who does not know him is not a woodwind instrumentalist.

Once Jo in his advanced years was hospitalized for several months, and many musicians and fans came to see him. They wished him earlier recovery and requested him to make better instruments. This motivated junior Jo to make up his mind to take on the job.

With the help of his father, Jo Pong Sam made strenuous efforts to acquire a knack for making and playing folk instruments.

It was not easy for him, an engineer, to learn to play woodwind instruments like jotae .

However, he thought that a man who did not know how to play instruments could not make them, and he practised hard to reach the professional levels. And he managed to standardize the designs of jotae , tanso and other instruments his father had developed for decades.

Like his father, he makes jotae for musicians at the National Symphony Orchestra and other art troupes, as well as for amateurs. His instruments gain favour among them.

Folk instruments, particularly jotae and tanso, that demonstrate his refined craftsmanship are also on demand overseas.

His son follows in his father’s footsteps and makes folk woodwind instruments at the Musical Instruments Manufacturing Institute of Pyongyang Kim Won Gyun University of Music and Dance.

“I think it is my vocation to carry forward the tradition of the nation. And my hope is that we make better instruments and help our excellent folk music play on,” said Jo Pong Sam.

Ri Maek

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