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Allegory of Survival: The Theater of Kang-baek Lee (Hardcover) By translated by Alyss ...

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Allegory of Survival:


Modern Western drama was introduced to Korea via Japan in the first decade of the twentieth century, beginning a remarkable transformation not well chronicled in the West, a transformation in which Kang-baek Lee has played a central role since the 1970s. During the Japanese occupation (1910–1945), some Korean playwrights modeled their work after European playwrights such as Sean O'Casey and John Millington Synge, while others wrote commercial melodramas pleasing to audiences and colonial authorities. All playwrights were affected to one extent or another by colonial programs designed to de-value if not erase Korean culture and ethnic identity. Even after World War II (1940–1945), the partition of Korea into north and south (1948) and the Korean War (1950–1953), many Korean playwrights in the south continued to emulate Western models, the dominant cultural influence being American, though European Absurdist plays were widely studied and performed.

It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that some South Korean playwrights began to reassert their cultural identity as Koreans, writing plays that were consciously Korean, using Korean myths, folklore, religious rites, traditional music, and mask dance drama as resources in the search for theatre forms at once Korean and modern. In this same period, theatre was a medium of biting social criticism of an increasingly Westernized and materialistic culture and as a powerful political weapon in the