중앙데일리

Cheonggye Stream flows past a dramatic diorama

Father and daughter perform every week as ‘living statues’

Oct 15,2007
When two ocher statues were installed near the Mojeongyo Bridge along Cheonggye Stream last Sunday, about 20 spectators stopped walking to get a good look at them. One was a little girl in a dress sitting in a chair. The other was a man standing in a 19th century military uniform.
But to the astonishment of a young girl, when she approached the still art piece, the statue of the little girl winked and waved her hands. The other robotically extended his arm to the approaching girl for a handshake. After the initial shock wore off, bystanders erupted in laughter.
The “living statues” are Kim Jeong-han, 41, and his daughter Kim Seo-hwi, 6, who perform their pantomime weekly at Cheonggye Stream. The actors disguise themselves in special makeup and pose like statues to entertain spectators. The Kims are popular members of the “Seoul Artists” group, a designation for artists allowed to perform along Cheonggye Stream. The group’s register includes about 70 teams, and on average 20 teams perform during the weekend.
Except during the monsoon season, since last March, the younger Kim has come to Cheonggye Stream every Saturday and Sunday with her father to put on the show. The elder Kim is a graduate of Seoul Institute of Arts and has been in the performance industry for the past 25 years. He also passes on his dreams as an actor as a part-time instructor at Kongju Communication Arts College.
When the Seoul city government restored Cheonggye Stream about two years ago, Kim started his pantomime act with one of his students. When his student left for mandatory military service in the spring, Kim’s daughter Seo-hwe filled in.
“It is fun to perform in front of spectators with my father,” Seo-hwi said. She said she feels fulfilled when she hears laughter and applause from the people who come to watch.
Seo-hwi learned her mime techniques from her father, who began teaching her her early.
Her father recalled, “One day, she insisted that she wanted to perform with me. I thought this could be a memory for her when she grows up, so I brought her along. Seo-hwi is interested in performing in front of other people and is talented in performing arts like ballet and jazz dance.” Seo-hwi was able to imitate his “wave” arm movements when she was merely two years old, he added.
The Kims’ road to making their Cheonggye Stream show well-known, however, was not easy.
Seoul Artists doesn’t receive any remuneration, but does accept donations for the basic costs of makeup and costumes.
Some people looked down on the Kims, as if they were putting on the show to make money. “I didn’t like the misunderstanding, so I removed the donation box,” the father said.
One day a drunk man walked up to Seo-hwi and shoved money into the pocket of her dress because there wasn’t a donation box. In addition, foreigners awkwardly searched in vain for a box or a hat in which to toss money. So the box returned.
The elder Kim’s wife, Park Su-gyeong, 34, a screenwriter, said, “At first I didn’t want Seo-hwi performing with her father because people might misunderstand that we as parents were using our daughter to make money. Also, I didn’t want Seo-hwi to get tired.” Now Seo-hwi enjoys performing more than anything.
“I like it the most when people laugh,” she said.


By Sung Si-yoon JoongAng Ilbo [yhwang@joongang.co.kr]



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