Korean term referring to the puppet play or puppet show. This is also called Pak-Chomji norum (Pak Chomji Norum, Bak Cheomji noreum) or tolmi (deolmi). However, only the terms, tolmi and kkoktu-gaksi norum are generic names for puppetry. Others use the name of the actual traditional characters played by the Namsadang company Pak-Chomji norum.

Norum means “a play” or “a show”, and gaksi is “wife”; kkoktu could be derived from the pre-Tang (618-907) Chinese word guotu, or “puppet”, a term which itself was perhaps originally the name of a puppet character in a Chinese drama of the period. The Japanese term kugutsu, “puppet”, “puppeteer”, could also have the same origin. Therefore, the meaning of kkoktu-gaksi norum, literally “the puppet wife’s play”, is more a generic term signifying puppetry while the term Pak-Chomji norum signifies a play about the character Pak Chomji performed with rod puppets, which is the only traditional Korean puppetry that has survived to today. From these origins, the term kkoktu-gaksi has come to signify the puppet figure itself. However, since the Korean government designated the Pak-Chomji norum of the Namsadang company as kkoktu-gaksi norum, both terms have come to refer to the same thing.

Thus, the current drama titled kkoktu-gaksi norum is a puppet play in eleven scenes which, according to the restoration carried out by Nam Un-ryong in the 1960s, includes dancing, singing, storytelling, hunting scenes, funerals, etc., which depict shamanic rituals and dances, satire on depraved Buddhist monks and aristocrats, rivalry between wife and mistress, and the lives of ordinary people.

(See Korea.)