[ON STAGE]Ancient tales are odds-on hits

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[ON STAGE]Ancient tales are odds-on hits

Stories based on legends and myths usually turn into big hits when converted into Korean movies, television programs or literature. First there was "Home of Legends," a popular program that dramatized folklore passed from generation to generation throughout the various regions of the country. The program ran for 12 years on the Korean Broadcasting System, from 1977 through 1989.

Then there was the 1996 romance fantasy "The Gingko Bed," by Gang Je-kyu, who later directed the commercial hit "Shiri" (1999). "The Gingko Bed" relates a 1,000-year-old tale of a pair of lovers faced with myriad adversities. Their story is connected to the present when a modern-day couple acquires the ancient lovers' bed as an antique.

In the same ancient and classical setting comes the fantasy musical "Land of the Wind," which kicked off at the Seoul Arts Center last week. The fictional but history-based story line takes the audience back to the 1st century, when the third king of the Goguryeo Dynasty from the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C. - A.D. 668), Daemusin, gained control over the peninsula. But battles still raged between the three kingdoms: Goguryeo, Han and Nakrang (the latter two being fictional).

The drama centers on a tragic love story between the heirs to two of the kingdoms, Goguryeo's Prince Hodong and Nakrang's Princess Sabi, and the vortex of history that keeps them apart. The play is adapted from a comic book series called "Daengi," by Kim Jin. The comic book, often compared to "Romeo and Juliet," first came out as a single volume in 1992. But it became a series after it was welcomed enthusiastically, and 17 other books have been produced.

The story has become a franchise; since May, the heroes of the musical have been made into action figures and accessories and are being used for posters and computer games - products which teenagers are gobbling up.

The most interesting part of "Land of the Wind" is the music, which makes up about 90 percent of the production. A performance troupe, the Seoul Performing Arts Company, which staged large-scale performances in conjunction with events such as the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1993 Daejon Expo, recruited pop vocalists to act in the musical. The pop diva Park Hwayobi plays Princess Sabi and the musician Park Wan-kyu plays a warrior.

For more information, call 02-523-0986.

by Park Soo-mee

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