Translated by Won-Jae Jang
In his study Irish Influences on Korean Theatre during the 1920s and 1930s, Won-Jae Jang alerted scholars to a previously unexamined example of intercultural exchange in which Korean scholars looked to Irish writers and especially Irish dramatists to help them find a way of freeing themselves from the cultural imperialism of Japan. They studied the stated aims of Yeats, Lady Gregory and Synge in founding an Irish National Theatre Movement to gain independence from the dominance of English drama, read translations of their plays as well as some by O’Casey and T. C. Murray, and decided to follow that example, first by adaptations, then imitations and finally with original dramas that nonetheless reveal a profound debt to distinct Irish models.
The three plays by Chi-Jin Yoo (the centenary of whose birth is celebrated in 2005) that are contained in this volume belong to this last group. He focuses on the lives of the deprived and the impoverished, country people struggling to maintain a degree of security if only to retain some vestige of human dignity. In this he follows the Irish realist tradition rather than the Yeatsian preoccupation with the legendary and the heroic. Wan-Jae Jang offers the reader literal translations from the Korean, the better to respect the raw energy of the original dramas, into which Chi-Jin Yoo welded a surprising variety of influences from Irish playwrights. As well as the three plays, The Cow, The Mud Hut and The Donkey, also published here is an article by Yoo, ‘Sean O’Casey and I’, which shows the major influence that O’Casey in particular had on his work.
Won-Jae Jang was born in Seoul, graduated from Korea University (BA), and Goldsmiths College, University of London (MA), and was granted his PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2000. He is now working for Soongsil University as a Junior Professor. His Irish Influences on Korean Theatre during the 1920s and 1930s was published in 2003.