Dance Education in Korea: Dance Education Gains Ground in the Academic Curriculum

Article excerpt

In Korea, dance education has experienced a revolution in order to make it a more academic subject for today's students. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology ( has continued to revise dance education from the first national curriculum (August 1, 1955) to the seventh national curriculum (1997), and through the announcement of the seventh national curriculum reform bill (2009; table 1).

Table 1. History of the Korean Dance Education Curriculum

            Date       Dance Education Characteristics

The Ist     1955       * Division of educational content by school
Curriculam               grade
                       * Lack of definition for objectives and content
                       * Focus on foreign folk dance

The 2nd                * Goal establishment by school grade
Curriculum  1963       * Emphasis on physical improvement
                       * Imbalance in dance education

The 3rd                * Division of folk dance and creative dance
Curriculam  1973       * Suggestion of dance education as a
                         significant portion of the curriculum
                       * Encouragement of Korea's folk dance and play
                       * Effort for systematization in creative dance

The 4th                * Included dance theory, although insufficient
Curriculum  1981       * Folk dance
                       * Division of Korea's folk dance and foreign
                         folk dance

The 5th                  Formation of balance in theories and practical
Curriculum  1987         skills

The 6th                * Establishment as part of the art curriculum
Curriculum  1992       * Recognition of  dance as lifelong education

The 7th     1997       * Creative dance
Curriculum             * Korea's folk dance, foreign folk dance

The 2007    2007       * Elementary creative activities: movement,
Revision                 rhythmic, folk, thematic/creative expression
                       * Junior high modes of creative expression:
                         esthetic, modem, and traditional

The 2009    2009         Emphasis on "creative expression"

Adapted from the ministry of education, science, and technology (n.d.)

In the seventh national curriculum, dance is categorized as an "expressive activity" within the physical education curriculum with the primary purpose of fostering creative and rational thinking. The educational objectives of the elementary curriculum are to understand the expressive elements of physical activities, to acquire diverse ways of expression, and to learn how to appreciate dance. The educational objectives of the secondary curriculum are to understand the value of expressive activities, to learn how to express oneself in a creative manner, and to appreciate such activities (Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development, 2007).

In kindergarten and the first two years of elementary school, dance is offered as part of "inclusive courses" and is emphasized as comprehensive education that incorporates physical, musical, and formative activities. In kindergarten, dance is covered in the "healthy life" and "expressive life" curricula. In first and second grade, dance is covered in the "merry life" course under the chapters of play and expression, appreciation, and understanding. From third to sixth grade, dance is offered as an expressive activity in the physical education curriculum. In middle school and the first year of high school, dance is taught as a specific unit in the physical education course. Finally, in the second and third years of high school, dance is offered as an elective course.

The efficacy of dance education has often come into question (Byeon, 1984; Ha, 2008; Kim, 2002; Lee, 2009; Park, 2005; Ryu, 2006). Despite the structured physical educational system and related policies, dance education largely exists as a course in name only, without achieving its unique goals. …