중앙데일리

Korean National Ballet in hot water over dancers’ activities

Mar 06,2020
A poster uploaded online advertises a ballet class taught by Korean National Ballet principal dancer Lee Jae-woo at a private ballet academy in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. [SCREEN CAPTURE]
The state-run Korean National Ballet (KNB) has been at the center of controversy for loosely managing its dancers during their 14-day self-quarantine period after returning from a performance in Daegu, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, last month.

Although the decision to cancel multiple performances and have the company’s dancers and staff stay home for 14 days was made by artistic director Kang Sue-jin, some dancers have disregarded their instructions and proceeded on with their own personal schedules, with one even using the time to go on an overseas trip.

The company’s principal dancer Lee Jae-woo and soloist Kim Hee-hyun were revealed to have each conducted private group lessons, composed of about 10 students, at a ballet academy in Seocho District, southern Seoul, on Feb. 26 and Feb. 29. The self-quarantine period for the ballet dancers began on Feb. 24. KNB’s Daegu performances were on Feb. 14 and 15.

Another corps de ballet dancer, Na Dae-han, faced fierce criticism last week after posting a picture of him and his girlfriend in Japan. The dancer returned from Japan the next day and for his “thoughtless behavior.”

The company said on Thursday that it will soon hold a disciplinary committee meeting and decide on the a reasonable punishment for the dancers and apologized on behalf of the dancers for causing so much anxiety.

Meanwhile, the controversy also revealed that the ballet academy in Secho-dong, is allegedly being operated by Kim, which may go against the company’s regulations. Dancers at the state-run ballet company are strictly prohibited from engaging in profit-making activities.

Only some activities authorized by the artistic director are allowed.

A post on the website of the academy states that the director is Kim and that many KNB dancers provide private lessons there. Kim, however, told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, that it is owned and operated by his friend and not by him. KNB said it will hold a separate disciplinary committee meeting regarding the dancers’ external activities.

“We’ll strengthen the regulation regarding the dancers’ profit-making activities,” said an official from the company.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]


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