Momo—a little girl that withstands the acceleration of everyday life and saves humanity from the time-smoking “grey gentlemen”. The novel from 1973, written by Michael Ende (1929–1995), is a classic and I have read it numerous times. In retrospect, the book might have been well ahead of its time. In an essay on Momo, Zen, and the Commodification of Time, Linda Goodhew and David Loy note that “the temporal nightmare it [the book] depicts has become our reality.” (For a sociological approach on the acceleration of time see, for example, an article and a paper by Hartmut Rosa)
Although time is always short in Seoul, I went to see a production by German language and literature students of the Sungshin Women’s University (성신여자대학교), all performed in German! The show took about one hour and was great fun. Although at times the pronunciation made it a bit hard to follow, the skills of the students were amazing, given that they have been learning German for not much more than one year.
This wasn’t the first time that I saw Momo (모모) on stage in Korea. Some afternoon almost five years ago, I had attended a musical-version of the story in Daehang-no. I remember that the actors on stage outnumbered the audience, but I still enjoyed the play and the songs. Back then, my knowledge of the story helped me to follow along, now it was the Korean subtitles that provided some clues when the German words were hard to understand. (see this blog for some pictures of the young lead)
Momo, the book, is quite well known in Korea. Michael Ende has even written a special introduction for the first translation that was published already in 1977. The Korean Wikipedia-entry features some more interesting details, for example the “Momo Sensation” (모모 선풍) of the late 70s that emerged out of the success of Ende’s book as well as the movie Madame Rosa (1977) which opened in Korea under title Momo, the name of the (male) protagonist (see the Wikipedia-entry for more confusion).
There was also a movie based on Ende’s book, which hit Korean cinemas three years after its original release: “Seoul, summer of 1989: In this sad place, your tormented souls will be reborn!!”
This is the famous song “Momo is a Child” (모모는 철부지 by Kim Manjun (김만준), which also spawned an eponimous Korean movie in the late 70s (two decades later, around the time the author of Momo died, Tocotronic made a much more angry song about him: “Michael Ende, you destroyed my life”):
Also, two years ago mixed media artist Yang Won-Jeong (양원정) held a solo exhibition called “Momo” at Gallery UD (유디갤러리)—you can find her statement that mentions Ende online, including some pictures, such as this one:
Anyway, seeing Momo again was definitely not a waste of time.
— 29 March 2013 (金)
- “모모”, 원작: 미하엘 엔데; 연출: 조수진; 기획: 정현빈; 출연: 성신여자대학교 독어독문학과 전공학생, 2013년3월 29일(금) 오후 6시 ~ 7시, 성신여대 수정관 대강당 420호.
- “Momo”, based on the book by Michael Ende, directed by Jo Su-jin, produced by Jeong Hyeon-bin, performed by students of the institute of German Language and Literature at Sungshin Women’s University, 2013-03-29 (Fri.), 6 – 7 pm, Sungshin Women’s University, Main Building, Auditorium No. 420.