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2010 | 3-4 (234-235) | 155-167

Article title

RECEPTION OF SHAKESPEARE'S WORKS IN KOREA. 'ROMEO AND JULIET' BY O T'AE-SOK (Recepcja tworczosci Shakespeare'a w Korei. 'Romeo i Julia' w rezyserii O T'ae-soka)


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The name of Shakespeare appeared in Korea for the first time in January 1919, when Ku Ri-byong published his translation of The Tempest in The Catholic Youth magazine (Kidok Ch'ongnyon). During the next decade, the most significant works of Shakespeare were translated into Korean and published in newspapers and magazines. However, they were rarely staged. Hong Hae-song (1893-1957) was the first to face the challenge and in 1926 he directed The Merchant of Venice. The following years aroused interest in Shakespeare's dramas among Korean directors and Hamlet was the most often presented on the stage. O T'ae-sok (born in 1940) was one of the most outstanding inventors of the modern South-Korean theatre, who decided to show the romantic comedy Romeo and Juliet. O T'ae-sok debuted in 1967 and for more than forty years has constantly been surprising the Korean audience and critics with the variety of his stage ideas, diversity of innovative artistic means and an original technique of acting. Producing Romeo and Juliet for the first time in 1995, O T'ae-sok made a far-reaching adaptation not only in the interpretation of the play, but also in its literary layer. In 2001, O T'ae-sok decided to direct this work one more time. In effect, he created his own version of the play, in which he emphasised the specificity of Korean culture and his own aesthetic preferences. Although he kept the main plot of Shakespeare's work, he seriously reduced the number of dialogues, leaving only fragments of the most important and famous speeches. What is more, he simplified them to such an extent that they became only an echo of the florid style of the original. Additionally, he changed the characteristics of the main characters and their roles in the action. Finally, he used choreography to present numerous metaphors and psychological dilemmas.




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  • Ewa Rynarzewska, Uniwersytet Warszawski, , ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


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Publication order reference


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