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The Masterpiece of Korean Realism Theater 'Sanbool(Wildfire)'
2011년 06월 02일 (목) HyoJin Cha, Reporter hjcha@worldyannews.com

The masterpiece of Korean realism theater <Sanbool(Wildfire)> will be on stage from June 5 to June 26 at Haeoreum Theater in the National Theater. 49th anniversary this year since its premiere, <Sanbool>’s setting is the remote countryside in the winter of 1951 where the shadow of Korean War is thrown. All men had been the victims by both Korean soldiers and North Korean partisans or fled from the village and only women are left behind.

One very cold winter night, GyuBok who got hurt steals into JeomRye’s kitchen. JeomRye who feels bad about GyuBok shares her food with him and they eventually make love. SaWol, who noticed their relationship tries to share GyuBok for the price of keeping her mouth shut to other villagers. As their distorted relationship keeps going on, chaos and desires get bigger and bigger.


<Sanbool> is a play written by the late BeomSeok Cha and had its premiere in 1962 at the National Theater in Myoungdong. Since then until 2007, it had been on stage many times while also being made into the film, TV drama, musical, opera, and Korean traditional opera, showing the true value and depth of the realism theater to many audiences.

The time BeomSeok Cha wrote the play was the time of cold war between South Korea and North Korea. Ideology was everything and many considered the play either as the anticommunism play or pro-North Korean play. But what BeokSeok Cha really wanted to do was to analyze and describe the human nature, love and lust, and many aspects of conflict during the most difficult time.

<Sanbool> is one of the rare literary works which describe the true nature of people who go through the war. The play is considered to be the masterpiece of realism theater for its realistic description of human nature who live under the debris of war.

“I want to be on stage for <Sanbool> even when I am over 80.” - BooJah Kang

<Sanbool> dreams of reviving the large scale play when most of the plays on stage nowadays are the light comic small plays. YoungWoong Yim, the director says “<Sanbool> was originally written to be on big stage from the beginning. The audience will be able to feel the true value of a realism theater with <Sanbool>.”

The stage settings of ‘bamboo forest’ of Sobaek Mountain and ‘wildfire’ are in fact quite a scene.
200 bamboos are actually used to make the setting and the scale of it makes us to have illusion of being in the real forest.


And looking at the village being burned down by the wildfire on stage will allow the audience to sympathize with the people who had to go through a tempestuous period. The sound, lightings, and costumes that realized the devastating life of that period without reserve will also allow the audience to feel the true nature of a legitimate theater.

<Sanbool> will be revived by the junior actors who wish to commemorate 5th anniversary of BeomSeok Cha’s death with respect. BooJah Kang, MinKi Cho, BokSoon Gwon, YoungNam Jang, EunGyoung Seo and Incheol Lee will be performing to provide the moving and catharsis to the audience.

BooJah Kang actually played the role of ‘Choi’ when <Sanbool> was first played by the drama company Sanha in 1966. She kept playing in <Sanbool> for a while, and became one of its representative actors. BooJah Kang said “When I first heard that <Sanbool> will be on stage again, I was so thankful and moved. I said yes when they asked me to be on stage without even a blink of an eye.”


She also added “I will be playing in <Sanbool> as long as it is on stage, even when I am way pass 80.”, revealing her deep affection to the piece. MinKi Cho who was taught by BeomSeok Cha when he was a college student contacted the production company himself to be part of <Sanbool>.

He said “<Sanbool> is like a base where the audience who understand Korean can sympathize with the most. Even though he no longer is with us, this will be the time for all of us to look into his heart through this play.”

The late BeomSeok Cha was born in 1924 in Mokpo, Jeolla namdo. He highly contributed to build and establish the realism theater in Korea writing and directing many legitimate realism plays for 50 years.

He is also famous for the first writer of TV drama <Jeonwon ilgi(diaries in the countryside)> in 1980. Although he could have a better life as the TV drama writer with <Jeonwon ilgi>, he chose to go back to the theatrical world. He kept working hard to make plays until he passed away in June 2006.
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