[ON STAGE]A 3-hankie, sentimental journey

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[ON STAGE]A 3-hankie, sentimental journey

Sorrow has long been the major theme for Korean dramas. A poor boy meets a wealthy girl. The boy finds out the girl is from a royal class. The boy cries in front of the girl's doorstep all night and dies of frostbite. Koreans call these tragic dramas sinpa.

The term, which means "a new wave drama," originally came from Japan, where it described modern dramas different in style or content from traditional plays such as Kabuki. When it first arrived in Korea, sinpa dealt with political and military themes; later it branched out into detective stories, soap operas and tragedies. Eventually the term came to be used for melodramatic tearjerking plays.

"The Days of Motherhood" (also known as "Two Sons") is a traditional sinpa that brings some of that old-fashioned sentimentality back to the stage, and features TV celebrities like Lee Deok-hwa and Jung Ae-ri.

The story begins with a mother, Ms. Park, who is too poor to raise her first son, Min-kyu, so she gives him up for adoption to a wealthy family. She manages to keep and raise her other children, but her youngest son becomes a gangster. Meanwhile, Min-kyu has grown up to be a prosecutor. The two cross paths when Min-kyu, unaware of the blood connection, tries to arrest his brother, and asks the mother for help. Ms. Park, the only one aware of the situation, feels guilty for having abandoned Min-kyu, so is unable to tell him the truth.

The content of "Motherhood" appeals more to the older generation, who like to break out their handkerchiefs at plays like this. In fact, the production company marketed the play as an ideal lunar New Year's gift for sons and daughters to give their parents. Still, melodramas are box-office winners across all age brackets. Though the plot smacks of cliches, the sentiments are very comforting and provoke deep emotions.

Bring tissues and brace yourself for the high drama of a traditional sinpa.

For more information, call 02-368-1616. The please-your-parents package costs 167,600 won ($130), including two "royal" tickets for the show and dinner for two at the Haewadal (Sun and Moon) restaurant inside the theater complex. To get to the theater take the No. 3 subway line to Dongguk University and go out exit 3. The theater has shuttles regularly passing the spot starting 40 minutes before the play begins.

by Park Soo-mee

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