Theater of Life
Historical document photos of Goryeo Theater
Images are photographed at the Goryeo People Cultyre Center Kyul, Gwangju
Koizumi organized a two-day acting workshop for teenagers from Goryeo people community in Gwangju. These teenagers (age between 13 to 19) arrived to Korea within a last few years from Central Asia; some came with their parents who found jobs in Korea, and others have just escaped from the war in Ukraine. They mainly speaks in Russian, and still struggling to learn Korean language and to find their positions within Korean society. Setting the old historical photo documents of Goryeo Theater as a starting point, a professional acting coach taught the youths the basics of how to act on the stage, and encouraged them to imagine characters, to transform themselves with the costumes, and to actively re-invent the scenes depicted in the historical theater photos. The workshop was aimed to help the youths to objectively see the historical burden of Goryeo people, and to learn the skills to actively transform one’s own identity through the power of role-playing.
The Goryeo theater, which was established in 1930 in Vladivostok, had played an important role to formulate the identity of Goryeo people as diaspora throughout the 20th century. In early years, they staged plays of national folklores, class struggles, and struggle against Japanese colonialism. Goryeo People are ethnic Korean people living in the former Soviet Union, and they were the hub for independent movement against Japanese suppressions in the early 20th century. But in 1937, by the policy under Stalinism, the whole population were violently deported to Central Asia such as Uzbekistan and Khazakhstan. Many died during this tragical deportation. The Goryeo theater survived through the deportation, and later it became a tool for propaganda under socialism of Soviet Union.
After the collapse of Soviet Union, the social environment of Goryeo people once again became unstable, and they are exposed to nationalism and racism in the local societies today. Now some are coming back to Korea in search of their homeland and also in search of jobs. Goryeo people’s community is also actively helping Goryeo people in Ukraine to escape from the war.
Very Special Thanks to:
Cheon Young Lee / 이천영
Shin Zoya / 신조야
Pak Viktoriya / 박 빅토리야
Sunyang Kim / 김선양
Byeong Hak Kim / 김병학
Acting Coach: Nam Hee Lee
Camera: Hyunghwa Jung
Camera Assistant: Dongjun Kim
Research Assistant: Viktor Belozerov
Project Management: Chanee Park, Yeonkyung Jang
Curation: Sook-Kyung Lee and Sooyoung Leam
Commissioned by Han Nefkens Foundation and Gwangju Biennale
Direction, Edit, Installation: Meiro Koizumi