Korea-Japan production returns to Seoul stage

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Korea-Japan production returns to Seoul stage


“Yakiniku Dragon,” about the a struggling Korean-Japanese family, returns to Korea next week at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. Provided by Seoul Arts Center

It’s not just Korean pop icons and movie stars the Japanese are fanatical about. They have also been flocking to a play about Koreans struggling to make a life for themselves in Japan.

“Yakiniku Dragon,” a joint Korean-Japanese production that premiered in 2008, is returning to Korea on Wednesday after sell-out performances in Japan last month.

“In both countries, fans of the play have kept asking us to bring it back,” Seoul Arts Center said in a press release.

The play was first produced in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the New National Theatre in Tokyo and the 20th anniversary of Seoul Arts Center - they are the play’s two producers. It premiered in Japan in April 2008 and was presented in Korea the following month.

After its premiere, the play won awards at several prestigious awards ceremonies in Japan.

It was named Best Play of the Year at the 8th Asahi Performing Arts Awards and won the 43rd Kinokuniya Theatre Award and the 13th Tsuruya Nanboku Drama Award.

In Korea, it was selected as one of the top three plays of the year by the International Association of Theatre Critics-Korea and one of the seven best performances of 2008 by the Korean Theater Review, a monthly journal about plays in Korea.

“Yakiniku Dragon” depicts a Korean family that runs a barbecue restaurant in Osaka, Japan. The family business faces closure when the government threatens to take it away, saying that it was built on government-owned property. The main character, Yong-gil, argues that he paid for the land and fights to keep the family together while resolving the dispute with the local government.

The story of Yong-gil’s family fighting to stay together in the face of hardship resonated with Japanese audiences, who experienced the dissolution of the extended family and the rise of the nuclear family in the 1970s.

It also received critical and audience acclaim in Korea, where the history of Koreans living in Japan still touches a nerve among Koreans here.

The play is written and directed by Chong Wishing, a Japanese-Korean playwright and director.

“Japanese-Koreans are part of both Korean and Japanese communities but at the same time are part of neither,” Chong said.

“Our family had a similar experience as Yong-gil’s family and I wanted more people to sympathize with the agony of Japanese-Koreans. In a broader sense, I wanted people to understand the power of family,” Chong added.

Many members of the original cast are scheduled to perform in the encore production, including actor Shin Chul-jin, who plays Yong-gil.

To make the play more authentic, Korean actors play Koreans and Japanese actors play Japanese, and all cast members speak in their native tongues.

The play represents the second collaboration between the Japanese and Korean production companies. Their first project was called “Across the River, in May,” which premiered in both countries in 2005.

*“Yakiniku Dragon” runs from March 9-20 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Towol Theater. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. There are no performances on Mondays.

Tickets range from 30,000 won ($26.50) to 50,000 won. Go to Nambu Bus Terminal Station, line No. 3, exit 5. For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or go to www.sacticket.co.kr.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[연합]
연극 '야끼니꾸 드래곤'이 돌아온다
재일교포 3세 정의신 극작.연출

재일 한국인의 애환을 섬세하게 그려내 코끝 찡한 감동을 선사했던 한일 합작 연극 '야끼니꾸 드래곤'이 3년 만에 재공연된다.

예술의전당이 2008년 개관 20주년을 맞아 일본 신국립극장과 함께 선보였던 '야끼니꾸 드래곤'은 당시 양국에서 나란히 전회 매진 기록을 남기며 화제를 모았었다.

이번 앙코르 공연에서도 초연 무대에 섰던 배우들이 대부분 컴백해 당시 감동을 재현해낸다.

극작과 연출을 맡은 정의신은 17일 "3년 만의 재공연인 이번 무대에서는 또 다른 해석을 이끌어내기보다도 첫 무대와 같은 느낌을 되살려내는 데 주력했다"고 말했다.

재일 교포 3세로 한일 양국을 오가며 왕성하게 활동 중인 정의신은 자신의 어린 시절 경험을 토대로 한국과 일본 그 어디에도 속하지 못하는 재일 한국인들의 삶과 고민을 작품 속에 섬세하게 담아냈다.

극중 배경은 일본 관서 지방의 한 조선인 마을. 이곳에서 곱창집 '야끼니꾸 드래곤'을 운영하는 재일교포 '김용길' 가족의 이야기가 객석에 웃음과 눈물을 선사한다.

신철진, 박수영, 김문식, 고수희, 주인영 등 국내 연기파 배우들이 치바 테츠야, 아와타 우라라, 우라베 후사코, 미즈노 아야 등 일본 배우들과 호흡을 맞춘다. 일본어 대사가 나올 때는 한글 자막이 서비스된다.

일본 신국립극장에서 지난 9일부터 오는 20일까지 공연한 뒤 한국으로 건너와 3월 9~20일 예술의전당 토월극장 무대에 오른다.

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