Many college clubs no longer beat their drums

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Seoul National University (SNU) student club hall called “Tal”, which is due to close this year [THE CLUB]

Many prestigious student clubs at Korean universities are permanently closing as students had been restricted from interacting offline due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Seoul National University (SNU) traditional madanggeuk club called “Tal” had no new members this year. Madanggeuk is a Korean term that can literally be translated as court theatre, referring to a traditional Korean performance in the open air.

The club, with a long history of 51 years, is closing its doors this year as it has been unable to recruit new members. Currently, Tal has only four members, all of whom are about to graduate. Due to the coronavirus and social distancing measures, even the club’s remaining members had been unable to gather at all to train and perform for the past two years.

“I decided to close the club because I thought it would disappear after I graduated anyway for not fulfilling the minimum number of members required,” said Seol Wan-suk, a 26-year-old who ran the club since the past. four years.

Tal is well known for school clubs, called dongariworry about having popular alumni like Lee Na-rae, singer of contemporary Korean music Pansori (Korean traditional narrative song) Leenalchi, who released the popular song “Tiger is coming” in 2020. The song was used as the theme song for Korea Tourism Organization’s promotional video titled “Feel the Rhythm of Korea: Seoul”, released in July 2020 on YouTube. The video went viral and racked up 48 million views on Tuesday.

“The number of new members has been declining for 10 years. Even graduates and students enrolled in master’s programs had to come and help with the performance. I feel like that’s what we all anticipated would eventually happen,” Lee said.

Another alumnus of the club who went to SNU in 1999, Ahn Yi-ho, said, “In reality, it would have been difficult for the members to keep the club so far because it takes a lot of time and effort to keep it. To go. I feel like the overall change in student social status and university culture may have caused these clubs to close.

The Covid-19 pandemic has surely precipitated the fall of student clubs. Last year, Kyung Hee University’s prestigious art club was also abolished. The twenty members registered with the club in 2020 have not been able to meet once offline since social distancing measures were put in place.

“New members were unable to meet in person last year, and the remaining members are now all expecting to graduate,” said the 23-year-old art club’s last leader.

Durihana, a sign language club associated with students from Hanyang University and Hanyang Women’s University, was also terminated last year after 21 years of face-to-face volunteering activities. being prohibited.

According to the Hanyang University Club Association, membership of student clubs decreased by 34.2%, from 1,616 in the first half of 2019 to 1,064 in the first half of 2022. Members of performing arts clubs in particular decreased by 46.5%, although those from universities and clubs actually increased by 31.4%.

“Students seem to be cut off from the offline world. Due to social distancing measures, students have met people online based on common interests, which makes them feel like offline interactions are pointless,” said Lee Myung-jin, a sociology professor at Korea University.

According to a poll conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo with a Korean online recruitment website called Saramin, 30.3% of 1,503 respondents in their 20s and 30s said they had not participated in any extracurricular activities at school. university.

BY LEE BYUNG-JUN [kjdnational@joongang.co.kr]

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