A seducer’s story is back, and audiences love it

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A seducer’s story is back, and audiences love it


A beauty seduces a royal male figure. The man falls madly in love with her. She then uses her charms to manipulate him. She finally becomes the ruler herself.
It is a storyline told for centuries and in many countries, but the plot never seems to disappoint ― especially if the characters are based on historical figures.
Such was the case of Misil (AD 549-606), a girl mentioned briefly in a manuscript on ancient warriors from the 6th century Korean Peninsula. She had supposedly won the hearts of several young handsome knights and eventually even that of three powerful Silla kings.
In the manuscript called Hwarang Segi, or the Annals of the Hwarang (a martial class similar to European knights), her visage was compared to the “everlasting beauty of a hundred kinds of flowers.” But she is also described as an ambitious figure who used her good looks to control as many as five noble knights and three Silla kings.
There had been several novels, comic books and plays that dealt with the life of the girl, but the story never lost its appeal. Case in point: Both a film and a theatrical play on the subject are opening this year.
The author Kim Byeol-a’s version of “Misil” recently won a Korean newspaper’s literature prize of 100 million won ($105,000), instantly making her work a bestseller. The novel was praised for its detailed depiction of the colorful love life of Misil and her role in medieval history. Rather than drawing a lurid portrait of the girl, the author focused on telling her version of the story supported by historical research. Ms. Kim asserts that the girl is from a type of a noble family in that time, whose women were born to be the concubines of Silla kings.
Misil was “trained” from a young age by her grandmother to make the king happy, but it was the kings she served who ended up falling helplessly in love with her, allowing Misil to work her way up the hierarchy.
It is this novel that is to be made into a film later this year. That film will be joined by a play, though one not based on Ms. Kim’s novel. The play “Misil” will be a repeat performance of the material the theater troupe performed several years ago. The promoter for Yeohaengja, the troupe, said the motions of the actors would be more dramatic and the dialogue much sharper than those in the original production. In addition, the new version will be told in three “episodes.”
In one scene, for instance, Misil whispers to the stupified king: “A man can never grow weak. He will recover from any illness he has. His heart will jump in joy and he will live in prosperity. A man can gain all these from proper lovemaking.”
Will the play be too obscene for the general public? The theater promoter said that’s unlikely, but as a precaution has restricted admission to those over 15 years of age.
Most of the “sexual activities” appearing in the story will be expressed through passionate motions and wild dances, the promoter explained.
Actress Kim Ho-jeong, 37, will play Misil. Yang Jeong-ung will direct the play. The show will be staged from April 24 to May 7 at the Arko Arts Theater in Daehangno.

by Lee Min-a
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