South Korea: Government pressure on musical about North Korea



South Korea:
Government pressure on musical about detention camp

A cultural center in southern Seoul runs the musical ‘Yoduk Story’ which is set in a remote North Korean detention camp, Yoduk. Its creator had to overcome several obstacles because of the controversial message of the show.

Musical director Jung Sung-san said the government’s possible pressure forced some investors to pull out of the plans for the show, and a theater cancelled a planned staging of the show at the last minute, posing the biggest hurdle to the ‘Yoduk Story’.

Eventually, an Internet-based news outlet, Dailian, donated the stage to the Yoduk Story.
“A number of individuals also joined the fund-raising campaigns for the musical,” said Jung who once offered to put up his left kidney as collateral for a black-market loan.

Life in detention camp

“With this work, I aim to let the world know the reality of North Korea’s prison camps and to save the souls of the victims,” said the show’s 37-year-old director, who endured prison confinement for listening to a banned South Korean broadcast. He defected to the South in 1995.
The 150-minute musical centers on the tale of a 25-year-old North Korean woman who was a nationally decorated dancer only to be sent to Yoduk on false charges that her father, a senior Workers’ Party official, along with other family members, had spied for South Korea. Under North Korean law, family members are punished for the crimes of their relatives.

More horrible in reality

“Yoduk Story is a work looking back on several years of my life full of painful tears in the detention camp,” said Kim Young-sun, the show’s choreographer who defected to South Korea in 2003.
Kim, 68, a former People’s Army troupe dancer, was sent to the Yoduk camp in 1970 after her husband, an encyclopedia editor, disappeared and spent eight years there.
“This work of two hours is not equal to describing all the sufferings. It’s more horrible in reality. But I hope this show would serve as an occasion to draw attentions on human rights abuses in North Korea,” she said.
The Yoduk Story is the first part of a four-part series of musicals Jung plans to make. The second will be “Son of Chicago,” the story of an American prisoner of war who was detained by the North.

The text above is an excerpt of an article published by World Peace Herald. See link below.


World Peace Herald – 23 March 2006:
‘Analysis: North Korea’s gulag put to music’

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