Vietnamese water puppet shows to perform in the Republic of Korea hinh anh 1The miniature water puppetry stage designed by artist Phan Thanh Liem. (Photo courtesy of Phan Thanh Liem)

Hanoi (VNA) - This is an activity within the framework of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the RoK and the 30th founding anniversary of Joyful Theater in Seoul.

The group of artists is one of the first Vietnamese traditional art troupes to come to the RoK to perform post pandemic. As planned, the artists will have 20 performances, with a duration of 50 minutes each, in 4 cities including Seoul, Gyungju, Yungduk, and Chuncheon.

Audiences from Kimchi country will enjoy vibrant traditional water puppet shows imbued with Vietnamese village culture such as Uncle Teu, Dragon Dance, Lion Dance, Phoenix Dance, Fishing, Buffalo Fighting, and Rice Cultivation. In addition to the performances, the group will also spend time exchanging with local audience about the unique traditional art form of Vietnam.

Vietnamese water puppet shows to perform in the Republic of Korea hinh anh 2Artist Phan Thanh Liem with his puppets. (Photo courtesy of Phan Thanh Liem)

Artist Phan Thanh Liem said he was very happy to receive an invitation to perform in the RoK. This trip is even more meaningful when during the past 2 years of the pandemic, all art activities have almost "frozen."

“I am really happy to be able to perform again, to promote Vietnamese traditional culture to foreign audiences,” said Phan Thanh Liem.

This is the 5th time artist Phan Thanh Liem has been invited to Korea to promote the art of water puppetry since 2003. In the previous trips, the RoK audience has come to see in crowd and expressed interest in the art of water puppetry.

In particular, the performances also attracted the attention of many Vietnamese-Korean multicultural families. Many Vietnamese brides in the Republic of Korea have come with their families, especially children, to see and excitedly introduce to their husbands and children about the unique art form that only Vietnam has.

Artist Phan Thanh Liem is the 7th generation artist of a family with a tradition of performing water puppetry. His father is artist Phan Van Ngai, the teacher of many Vietnamese puppeteers, and the author of the mobile water stage now being used by water puppet theaters. Ngai is also the "father" of the image of Uncle Teu which is on display at the Louvre Museum in France.

During his participation in activities with the family's water puppetry troupe, artist Phan Thanh Liem realized the limitation of the large water puppet theater model as cumbersome and difficult to move, not suitable for a group of few people. After a period of time focusing on the issue, he finally created a miniature water puppet stage model and released it in 2000.

Thanks to this compact model, Phan Thanh Liem easily conducts shows in remote areas and abroad. He makes a significant contribution in introducing and promoting Vietnamese traditional culture to friends around the world.

Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Today's Vietnamese water puppetry is a unique variation on the ancient Asian puppet tradition.

The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large bamboo rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play.

According to Professor Hoang Chuong, Director of the Research Institute for the Conservation and Promotion of National Culture, Phan Thanh Liem is the artist who brings puppets abroad the most in Vietnam. He is like a silent "cultural messenger" promoting Vietnamese culture through water puppetry./.