The Quest for “Koreanness” in Theater: An Examinaon of Tradional Forms in Three Contemporary Korean Plays Open Access

Pak, Chloe (Spring 2019)

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Unlike China and Japan, the history of Korea’s dramatic literature begins in the 20th century, coinciding with the development of modern Korea. Interestingly, rather than pursuing the futuristic, hyper-capitalist modern Korea as a backdrop, playwrights have incorporated traditional elements, partly as a means to defy government appropriation of Korean tradition, and partly to legitimize a Korean theatrical tradion dang from older mes. Using the plays Oh Chang-gun’s Toenail (1974) by Pak Choyŏl, The Dummy Bride: Ceremony of Love (1993) Lee Yun-taek, and The Clowns (2000) by Kim Tae-woong, Pak observed and critiqued the playwrights’ use of traditional Korean performance forms in plays in their efforts to define “Koreanness” in plays, particularly with the elements of han , national pain and sadness, and hŭng , the joy and playfulness of the Korean kwangdae tradition. Pak concluded that just as the Korean peninsula remains divided and Korean society remains fractured, the playwrights were ultimately unable to find reconciliation between the past and present within their plays through theater, weighed down by the problems of society and the pain of the past. Still, hope remains as long as the art and experimentation continue with new generations and an increasingly wider variety of voices joining the theatrical world.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Kim Tae-woong’s The Clowns (2000) 20

Chapter 3 Pak Cho-yol’s Oh Chang-gun’s Toenail (1974) 33

Chapter 4 Lee Yun-taek’s The Dummy Bride (1993) 39

Chapter 5 Conclusion 50

Bibliography 54

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