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Fringe Review: Il Wol Dang

Megan Amato reviews Il Wol Dang at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

BEFORE interviewing Il Wol Dang, I had been intrigued by their beautifully simplistic poster with their slogan “Come and Take a Dreamy Nap”. Further research led me to their Spotify account with a setlist that combines traditional Korean and western instruments in a captivating fusion.

Having already fallen in love with their music, seeing them live cemented my fandom membership with their vibrant performance.

Their first four songs were ruminative and instrumental, showcasing each of the musicians’ proficiency with their instrument. During one song, Kim Jin-woo exchanged his electric guitar to show his range with two other traditional instruments and Jang Mi-ji gives a breathtaking exposition on the gayageum. Park Han-been’s inspired keyboard solo deftly demonstrated the breadth of her skill and creativity.

As they reach “Bara” – a spell to manifest your wishes, according to the pamphlet they handed out – we are given a taste of Lee Ju-hang’s soft and ethereal vocals along with her Daegum playing and she’s mesmerising. Her professional charisma and ability are impossible to resist.

Previously, Lee Ju-hang had talked about playing with the “hook” found in catchy pop tunes and that certainly comes through with many of their songs. I found myself quicky humming along to “Night Fever” and the soft repetitiveness of the melody in “My Forest” stuck with me long after the set.

“Bingle” – the sway of the body after drinking soju – was a fan favourite, especially after Lee Ju-hang admitted to having written it after drinking soju. The sound immediately transports you into a dream-like world, its catchy and up-beat and you can’t help but feel yourself start to sway with the music. You also get to see Kim Jin-woo donning a tal – a ceremonial mask that has long history in many contexts but often used in ritual dance.

I’m told that their designer spent six months listening to their music before creating their ensemble. And it shows. Each outfit is thoughtfully attuned to each musician, blending traditional Korean designs and fabrics with a modern twist – just like their music itself. Some outfits like Jang Mi-ji’s dress held more traditional elements down to her danghye (traditional women’s shoes) while keyboardist Park Han-been’s outfit and block heels held more modern notes.

Il Wol Dang’s spellbinding performance plays to the heart and soul, transporting the audience to a dreamy landscape outside of the repurposed festival stage to witness a stunning array of Korean culture, history and music. A must-see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.


Find out more about the show at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/il-wol-dang

Read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.