Shakespeare in Korea, two years later

Lee Youn-taek's Hamlet, via Street Theatre Troupe

After almost two years of review-limbo, my paper “To Be or Not To Be (Korean): Lee Youn-taek’s Hamlet and the Reception of Shakespeare in Korea” is now finally available for download at the German Shakespeare Society. As part of the 7th issue of the series Wissenschaftliches Seminar Online, you find my paper on the pages 21 through 38, together with works that deal with copyright issues, the Polish post-war interpretation Hamlet from Gliwice, and Star Trek.

Based on a presentation I held at the Society’s spring conference in 2009, the paper provides a historical reconsideration of Shakespeare-productions in Korea, using and re-evaluating James Brandon’s model of the “three Shakespeares in Asia” (originally published in 1997, a recent reworking is part of the anthology Re-Playing Shakespeare in Asia), as well as a detailed analysis of key scenes from Lee Youn-taek’s production of Hamlet, which has become an evergreen on Korean stages and an international success since its premiere in 1996. In particular I address issues of “complicit postcolonialism” raised by Yeeyon Im in her article “The Location of Shakespeare in Korea: Lee Yountaek’s Hamlet and the Mirage of Interculturality” (2008), at that time one of the few English-language discussions of Lee’s Hamlet.

When re-reading my paper now, of course the problems and lacks are numerous—not least the reliance on English-language sources. And, naturally, the growing literature on Shakespeare in Asia that has been published during the last two years could not be taken into account, including Lee Hyon-u’s paper on “Shamanism in Korean Hamlets since 1990″, published in this year’s spring issue of Asian Theatre Journal (a special issue on Shakespeare performances in Asia, guest-edited by Alexander C.Y. Huang, which also includes some reviews of the aforementioned anthologies as well as a variety of other interesting articles… see an upcoming post about the recent proliferation of literature on the topic!)

Anyway, I hope you give my thoughts on this highly irritating Hamlet a try—critique and comments are especially welcome!

— 2009–11

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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2 Responses to Shakespeare in Korea, two years later

  1. Pingback: Foundlings: Shakespeare Readings in 19th Century Korea (Theatre and Globalization 3) | Seoul Stages

  2. Charlotte La Nasa says:

    Dear Jan,
    I am currently applying for a Fulbright research grant to examine Shakespeare education in Korea. I hope to evaluate the transformation of students through immersion in the text and how the process resonates with them, or if the aspiration to maintain a western interpretation of these inherently western masterpieces prevents a genuine feeling of connectedness. I am a rising senior at Sewanee: The University of the South, in Sewanee, TN, USA and would greatly appreciate your guidance. If you could please email me at lanascd0@sewanee.edu I would really appreciate it. I am hunting for connections to institutions and educators in Seoul; and while I know posting on your blog about it is a shout into the void, I think your advice could take me a long way. Thank you
    Charlotte

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