August 19th, 2012 by Oh! Kpop
Yun Dong-ju’s poems revived in musical
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Park Young-soo plays the late poet Yun Dong-ju in the musical “Yun Dong-ju Shoots the Moon”. / Courtesy of Seoul Performing Arts Company
The life and dreams of Yun Dong-ju (1917-1945), a poet who protested against the Japanese occupation through literary works, have been revived through a musical performance and a memorial hall with handwritten manuscripts of his works.
Seoul Performing Arts Company’s “Yun Dong-ju Shoots the Moon”, presented at the Opera Theater of Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul from Friday to Sunday, brought the ephemeral poet’s agony and literature back to life through music and dance.
The company said it is a Korean-style musical, which focuses on emotions instead of Western-style spectacles of musical comedies. The creators of the hit musical “Hero” – writer Han A-reum and composer Oh Sang-joon – teamed up again to shed new light on the poet’s life.
The first act revolves around Yun and his friends in Gyeongseong, the former name of Seoul, in the 1930s. Yun attended Yeonhui Technical School, now Yonsei University, and the show describes how Yun and his friends lived in the time mixed with anxiety and modernity.
The musical is about the horrendous reality under Japanese colonial rule but it balances the passion of young literary people and their situation, instead of being too dark and serious.
Yun leaves for Japan with his cousin and friend Song Mong-gyu at the end of the first act and the second act is set in Japan where Yun was arrested for participating in the independence movement by the Japanese police and detained at the Kamogawa Police Station in Kyoto.
Some of Yun’s famous poems including “Prologue” and “Cross” are recited, while others were turned into lyrics. Yun’s only essay “Shooting at the Moon” marks the finale of the performance as he is put to death through an unidentified medical experiment. The lyricism of his poems is portrayed through the simple set, symbolic lighting and the moon and stars make up the backdrop.
In the musical, Yun is described as a young man who agonizes over his longing to write poems in difficult times, rather than be an independence fighter. The story could have become monotonous due to a lack of dramatic events, but the young poet’s life is represented by his refined words.
Park Young-soo played Yun, Kim Hyung-gi, his friend Song and Lee Shi-hu portrayed Kang Chuh-joong. Yun’s muse and love interest Lee Sun-hwa, performed by Kim Hye-won, is a fictional character.
Yun Dong-ju Literature House
When Yun attended Yeonhui Technical School, he boarded at novelist Kim Song’s (1909-1988) house in Nusang-dong, Jongno, central Seoul. The place is where masterpieces such as “The Night I Count the Stars” and “Self-portrait” were born.
Though the house is gone, the district office named Yun Dong-ju Hill at the foot of Mt. Inwang in 2009 to commemorate Yun and reopened Yun Dong-ju Literature House in Cheongun-dong after renovation in July.
The district office turned a former pressurization station and two water tanks into Yun Dong-ju Literature House. Architect Lee So-jin, director of Atelier Lion Seoul, designed the space for the short-lived poet who left rich literary assets.
The first hall is a white cube symbolizing Yun’s poetic turn of mind and his photos and photographic editions of handwritten manuscripts are on display.
The second hall is named “Open Well”, as the architect removed the cover of an abandoned water tank to create a courtyard. It represents the well from Yun’s “Self-portrait” as well as provides a place for visitors to count stars at night like his “Star-Counting Night”. Another water tank was transformed as “Closed Well” and visitors can watch videos related to the poet’s life and literary world.
Yun Dong-ju Literary House is in Cheongun-dong, central Seoul, west of Gyeongbok Palace.
By Kwon Mee-yoo
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