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Cookin' Nanta: Korea's Longest Running Musical

Updated on December 30, 2010

Going to Seoul? Watch a performance of Nanta Cookin'!

Nanta, also known as Cookin' Nanta is a popular South Korean comedy musical that debuted in 1997 and has been running ever since.

The term "nanta" refers to reckless punching, like in a boxing match so expect to see lots of action in a Nanta performance. The performers onstage portraying cooks in a kitchen preparing for a wedding banquet make use of pots, pans, knives, chopping boards, dishes and all sorts of everyday items as their percussion instruments. Traditional Korean drum beats are incorporated into the music.

The show is hilarious and awesome at the same time. My husband and I were fortunate enough to have watched a performance in Seoul in September 2010 and we enjoyed the show to bits, from start to finish. Prepare to laugh your lungs out at the bizarre and hilarious audience-interactive scenarios, but get ready to be amazed with the cast's superior performance and surprising acrobatic skills too.

If you'd like to learn more about and see videos of Nanta performances, please read on.

Photo was taken at the Nanta Theater, Korea in Sept. 2010

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Korea's Cookin' NANTA Preview Trailer - Get a taste of what's cookin' at a Nanta performance.

Here's a Cookin' NANTA promo video. Said to be an Eastern twist of the "Blue Man Group" and "Stomp!", NANTA is touted as one of Korea's flagship stage shows.

I've seen performances of Blue Man Group and Stomp! and even Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, all of which make use of everyday household items and are percussion based. While they were excellent musicals for their time, I personally enjoyed Nanta more because of the hilarious and well-thought-out storyline.

Cookin' Nanta: What the story is about - A brief synopsis of the musical.

Nanta performance
Nanta performance

The musical Nanta has a very simple backstory of three cooks attempting to finish preparing for a wedding banquet within a strict time limit while the manager installs his incompetent nephew among the kitchen staff. The show involves acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime and audience participation.

The unifying element throughout the musical is the use of traditional Korean Samul Nori music, which in this case in performed with improvised instruments, such as cutting boards, water canisters and kitchen knives. The performance is almost completely non-verbal and the very few words which are spoken are in English so don't worry if you can't understand Korean - you won't need to to appreciate this show.

Information from Wikipedia. Photo from the Nanta website.

Buy the COOKIN' NANTA Original Soundtrack - Relive the Nanta experience with its original music


Track list: Prologue / Opening / Nephew / Nanta Theme / Cooking Show A / Cooking Show B / Doma / Kungfu Magic / Mandu Cake / 6 O'Clock / Samgomu / Ending A / Ending B / Encore / Encore (Bonus Track, Mr) / Are You Ready? (Bonus Track) / Doma (Bonus Track, Live Version)


Where to watch Nanta - Korean theaters where you can catch a performance of Cookin' Nanta.

Nanta Cookin'
Nanta Cookin'

The Nanta Theater is the permanent home of the Korean non-verbal performance. A theater was built exclusively for Nanta in Gangbuk in 2000, but a second one was built in Gangnam due to the overwhelming number of patrons. The Gangnam Theater was opened in April of 2002. The Gangbuk Theater has a capacity of 291, while the Gangnam Theater has a capacity of 293.


From Seodaemun Station (Subway Line No. 5), take the No. 5 exit (5 minutes walk).

From City Hall Station (Subway Lines 1 and 2), take exit No.1 or No.12 and follow Deoksugung Palace stone walled path toward Gyeonghyang Sinmunsa (12 minute walk).

List of official NANTA Theaters

* Myeong Dong NANTA Theater

* Gangbuk Jeongdong NANTA Theater

* Gangnam NANTA Theater

* Jeju NANTA Theater

Information from Visit Korea and the Nanta website

Watch videos of Nanta performances on Youtube. - Get a taste of the wild action on stage at Nanta theaters.

Nanta is a hybrid artwork, the combination of a traditional Korean folk performance called Samulnori and Western forms.

On the stage is a giant kitchen where four cooks appear and start cooking dishes for a wedding reception. In the process, they perform Samulnori using various cooking utensils like pans, pots, dishes, knives and the chopping board.

Though mainly consisting of rhythm and beats, its clever plot and delightful comedy makes it enjoyable for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Information from VisitKorea

Don't miss a performance of Nanta on your next trip to Seoul!

Don't miss a performance of Nanta on your next trip to Seoul!
Don't miss a performance of Nanta on your next trip to Seoul!

For more information on the Cookin' Nanta show,

visit Nanta's Official Website.

Your thoughts about this page are most welcome too.

Did you enjoy reading about the Korean musical "Nanta"? - Do you think it's something you'd like to watch?

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    • cdevries profile image


      7 years ago

      A very interesting Lens about a form of theater I'd never heard about. Lokks really fun. Squid Angel blessing.

    • Greenwickpress profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! This reminds me of Stomp, but so much more exciting! I really want to see it, but I doubt I'll be getting to South Korea anytime soon.

    • jackieb99 profile image


      8 years ago

      I loved Nanta! It was so funny

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      8 years ago

      It sounds like this would be a lot of fun to see live! Stopping by to say hello and sprinkle a little pixie dust this Halloween :)


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