Quick Hit: Korean Play 10 Girls ChoonHyang Satirizes Sexual Objectification

10 Girls ChoonHyang(Source)

First, watch this short MBN news report about the play. Unfortunately, I can’t embed or save the video, but I can provide a transcript:

열녀춘향‘, 고전 비틀기로 성상품화 고발 / 10 Girls ChoonHyang: A Twist on the Korean Classic to Critique Sexual Objectification

앵커멘트: 요즘 성폭력이 사회적으로 큰 골칫거리인데요. 이러한 풍조에 경종을 울리는 작품이 대학로의 한 소극장에서 공연되고 있습니다. 서주영 기잡니다.

Anchor: In recent days, sexual violence is becoming a very troubling social issue. One play in a theater on Daehangno (“College Street”) is ringing alarm bells about this trend. Seo Ju-yeong reports.

기자: 딱 붙는 셔츠와 핫팬츠를 입은 여성들이 소극장 무대에 잇따라 등장합니다. 어설픈 리듬체조와 몸을 사리지 않는 레슬링은 섹시함을 강조합니다. 지조와 절개의 상징인 춘향을 현대 남성들이 원하는 시선에 빗대 발칙하게 표현합니다.

Reporter: Women wearing tight t-shirts and hot-pants come out in succession onto the stage. Their awkward rhythmical gymnastics and reckless wrestling emphasizes their sexiness. Through ChoonHyang, a [classic] symbol of principles and fidelity, it savagely satirizes the modern male gaze.

10 Girls ChoonHyang 2(Sources: left and center, right)

인터뷰, 박현지 / ‘열녀춘향’ 강인한 춘향 역: “기본적으로는 춘향을 바라보는 시선 자체가 남성의 시선으로서 바라보는 거잖아요. 그러니까 그 욕망 자체가 그 안에 녹아져있다라는 설정하에서….”

Interview, Park Hyun-ji, ‘Strong ChoonHyang’ character: “Basically, to think about ChoonHyang is to ponder the male gaze. This desire is a strong theme of the play….”

바이올린 연주자를 훔쳐보는 남성들의 모습과 농염한 포즈로 고추전을 만드는 장면은 성상품화를 직접적으로 풍자합니다. 남녀 관객 모두 즐거운 표정이지만, 작품에 대한 시선은 조금 다릅니다.

ten girls choonhyang 2Scenes in which men secretly watch a female violin player, and in which a women suggestively make pepper pancakes, are direct satires of sexual objectification.

All members of the audience seemed to enjoy the performance, but men and women had slightly different perspectives on it (source, right).

인터뷰 , 정영신 / 서울 성산동:  “(너무) 노골적이지도 않고 아주 재미있게 잘 표현해낸 것 같아요.”

Interview, Jeong Yeong-shin, Seoul Seongsan-dong: “The subject wasn’t (too) blunt, and it was expressed well and interestingly,”

인터뷰, 이해림 / 서울 서초동: “남녀 간의 성관계를 주제로 했던 것 자체가 파격적이었어요.”

Interview, Lee Hye-rim, Seoul Seocho-dong: “It was very striking that the play’s theme was sexual relationships between men and women.”

무대에서 펼치는 고전의 비틀기가 성상품화라는 사회문제에 따끔하게 일침을 가하고 있습니다.

10 Girls ChoonHyang CastBy giving a twist on a classic, this play offers stinging criticism of the social problem of sexual objectification (end; source, right).

The theater was the Guerrilla Theater (게릴라극장); the director, Kim Hyeon-tak (김현탁); and the theater group Seongbukdong Beedoolkee (성북동비둘기). Alas, the play actually ended at the end of last month sorry, but I’ll keep an eye out for any more interesting performances by them in the future. And I’m happy to translate much longer, more substantive reviews and/or articles on 10 Girls ChoonHyang if anyone expresses an interest in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Korean Play 10 Girls ChoonHyang Satirizes Sexual Objectification

  1. I dare say that any resemblance to K-Pop choreography in the photo at the top (Girl’s Generation or After School, for instance — all those legs marching off into infinity) is entirely international.


    1. Indeed — don’t have the link on the subway with me sorry, but one of those longer articles captions the picture with a reference to SNSD’s “Tell Me Your Wish.”

      p.s. I’m assuming you meant “intentional,” yes? ;)

      Update: Come to think of it though, I don’t think they wore the same outfits in *that* particular video, although it was certainly part of their look in the years preceding it. I’ll do the onerous job of checking the video again during my office hours later…


  2. It would be great to see more plays that critique sexual objectification and the likes in Korea! It doesn’t seem criticized and challenged enough.
    Also, off topic: New Zealand has legalized gay marriage! :) As someone who lives here at the moment, it’s pretty exciting.


  3. Off-topic link dump: Gallup Korea doing what might be the first real survey of public opinions on gay marriage in korea..? Anyway http://news1.kr/articles/1096290

    Only 25% in favor. Of course the breakdown tells a more nuanced story: 52% in favor among people in their 20s, 87% against in their 60s.


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