Kim Tae-ri’s ‘Jeong Nyeon’ Will Revive the Forgotten Story of Gukgeuk Artists
A woman-dominated narrative of aspirations, passion, affirmation, concurrence, and love—most significantly, illuminating an invaluable Korean cultural treasure that has lain dormant for decades The post Kim Tae-ri’s ‘Jeong Nyeon’ Will Revive the Forgotten Story of Gukgeuk Artists appeared first on Rolling Stone India.
Jeong Nyeon sticks out a mile for two reasons: first, it features a diverse cast; second, it is an unusual period piece that serves as an ode to a fascinating moment in Korean entertainment history—it explores the story of a forgotten genre in Korean art and its performers—the Gukgeuk artists. Primarily put on by women, their acts infused pansori (Korean musical storytelling by a singer and a drummer), dance, and acting, which sparked an uprising in Korea during the 1940s, reaching a peak in the 1950s.
In a 서울대저널 (Seoul National University Journal) post, the women took on both male and female roles to criticize a patriarchal culture, and they were all the rage at the time. Particularly, the females who portrayed male leads enjoyed massive popularity. They’d get fan notes scribbled in blood. One of them, the late actor Jo Geum-aeng, who had the lead male character, even staged a virtual wedding while acting as the groom at the request of a fan who wanted a wedding photograph with her. The documentary The Girl Princes (2013) includes details of this obsession, and the enormity of these female stars, together with their contemporary narratives and memories.
They sort of fabricated a fantasy world where love was expressed via exquisite stagecraft, music, and dance, dissolving distinctions between gender and sexuality. The passionate and heroic characters they created frequently won over female viewers, as the perceptive piece adds, and witnessing female actors who “could become anything” gave them a sense of empowerment during the post-liberation transitional period. Their displays had that sort of draw; in fact, some girls eloped to join Gukgeuk companies. Jeong-nyeon, alluded to here, is one such character.
A live-action version of Seo Yi-re and Na Mon’s popular Naver Webtoon series Jeong Nyeon, dubbed “Jeongnyeoni,” with the same title, is in the works. The distinguished Korean superstar Kim Tae-ri will star as the titular Yoon Jeong-nyeon in the Jung Ji-in-directed K-drama, which boasts a host of other notable actors, including Moon So-ri, Ra Mi-ran, and Shin Ye-eun.
The drama rolls in the immediate aftermath of the Korean War (the 1950s), when Jeong-nyeon and her mother, Seo Yong-rye (Moon), are making a meager livelihood out of Mokpo. Her ideal scenario comprises relocating to Seoul and working as an actor with a Gukguek theater group for fame and fortune. One day in Mokpo, the Kang So-bok (Ra)-led Maeran Woman’s Gukguek Theater Company presents a play that fires up Jeong-nyeon’s dream. She surreptitiously enters their luggage compartment and shortly enrolls in Seoul as a trainee. Later, there, she meets fellow trainee Heo Young-Seo (Shin) and with time, Jeong-nyeon and Young-seo evolve into adversaries.
Essentially a woman-dominated narrative of aspirations, passion, affirmation, feelings, concurrence, love, and, I’m hoping, a ton of music, it will most significantly illuminate an invaluable Korean cultural treasure that has lain dormant for decades. Feats like those from the Gukgeuk troupes have fallen out of favor since the 1960s as an effect of the huge proliferation of art and artistic outlets brought on by cinema and television. Likewise, cultural demands, like marriage, motherhood, and plenty of other variables, all led to its eventual decline. Even so, thanks to the makers of Jyeong Nyeon for reviving their story and spreading the word. The drama is scheduled to debut next year.
The post Kim Tae-ri’s ‘Jeong Nyeon’ Will Revive the Forgotten Story of Gukgeuk Artists appeared first on Rolling Stone India.
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