[The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu] A Unusual Femme Fatale, Jang Noksu

Hello~! This post features another review by a Korean viewer! Read on for the author’s interesting reflection of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>! 🙂

Source: https://blog.naver.com/ckthwjd0659/221381684758

It was my first visit to Jeongdong Theater to watch <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>. The first thing I noticed was the theater’s interior design which projected elements of classic and traditional beauty. As a production theater that produces traditional performances representative of Korea, Jeongdong Theater is historically significant as it was established to restore the legacy of Wongaksa Theater, the first modern theater in Korea, and to succeed its spirit of modern arts. This made it more meaningful to watch a performance at the theater. While waiting for the start of the performance, I noticed a surprising fact. 80% of the audience was made up of foreign viewers. Looking at the foreign viewers around me, I hoped that they would enjoy traditional Korean performing arts and spend a fulfilling time here.

Truthfully speaking, I was anxious before watching the performance. The show uses the character Jang Noksu as its subject and focuses on the reinterpretation and reassessment of this character. While I understand the intention of the emphasis on Jang Noksu’s life as an entertainer, the fact that the historical assessment of this character was not reflected as well as the absence of dialogues made it difficult to accept the reinterpretation of her presented by the theater.

I was wondering if they took into consideration of the fact that most of the viewers of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> were foreign viewers. There was a short activity which included audience participation at the start of the show. Although the general flow of the performance was a theatrical dance which expressed traditional performing arts, parts of the performance deviated from the traditional aspect and included some modern elements which made it entertaining to watch the performance. This performance which relied on theatrical dance included a variety of traditional Korean dances such as traditional gibang culture and traditional Korean games, royal court scenes etc. It presented Janggo dance, Gyobang dance, boating dance and other colourful traditional Korean dances. The 75-minutes long performance was a good opportunity to enjoy the charm of traditional Korean dances.

However, there was a big pity in the theater’s attempt at popularising and trying a new style of traditional Korean performances through the character Jang Noksu. Furthermore, I have some concerns over the fact that foreign viewers may view Jang Noksu as merely an entertainer of history who led an unfortunate life. The romance between Yeonsangun and Jang Noksu was depicted in the performance and their tragic ending with their piteous love story was shown. Specifically, the scenes showing petition scrolls presented by the royal subjects, with the suffering Yeonsangun surrounded the royal subjects wearing evil masks, may evoke feelings of pity and sympathy towards Yeonsangun. And together with Jang Noksu, the one who stayed beside him, embracing his sorrow and wounds, the show seemed to depict the lives of this unfortunate pair, expressed by their unfortunate destined love.

However, I think more thought should be placed into whether it is possible to watch this performance while temporarily leaving out the historical interpretation of the character, or while recognising this absence, focusing on the personal life of the character to reassess her and understand the performance,. Personally, as someone who loves and enjoys watching traditional performing arts, in this new attempt at popularising traditional performing arts, I think that there was not enough inspection and consideration given to the points mentioned above, so I was more disappointed by the performance. In the drama “The Rebel” released last year, although Jang Noksu’s life was a beautiful and spectacular one compared to the lives of the others, she was depicted as a woman who met her miserable end when she was stoned by the peasants. Recently, Jang Noksu has been judged based on a focus on her personal life and many works have portrayed her as an entertainer who dominated a period of history. Similarly, although <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> tried to reinterpret this character from this point of view, I don’t think it can be easily accepted to see Jang Noksu being expressed in this way.

While watching <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>, I felt the charm of the various traditional Korean dances which complemented traditional Korean tunes. It was a stage which showed a feast of gorgeous and colourful dances. Also, I was able to concentrate more on the dances since the performance is a non-verbal performance. It was a special time to enjoy the excitement and elegance of traditional performing arts. However, taking into the account that the performance is a creative production with the character Jang Noksu as the protagonist, I think it is difficult to accept the reinterpretation and reassessment of Jang Noksu presented in the show.

– This review was made in collaboration with ARTinsight.

Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>

2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above

STAFF
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee

Ticketing
www.jeongdongtheater.com

VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩

Inquiry
02-751-1500

[The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu] The Last Event of the Year, Makeup Class with TONYMOLY!

@noksutagram <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> The Last Event of the Year, Makeup Class with TONYMOLY!

2018 Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance

<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>

Hello, this is Jeongdong Theater!

We have held a makeup class with TONYMOLY on every second Saturday of each month!

And we will hold the last makeup class event on December 8th, Saturday! 🙂

Here are some photos of the makeup class held on November 17th, Saturday!

The makeup designers who were busy preparing for the makeup show that started at 3PM!

Many participants came to join the event on that day as well!

Enjoy a simple makeup retouch during this makeup event!

Early registration as well as on-the-spot registration are welcome!

In the previous event, we had Japanese viewers who joined the event and left their reviews on Konest, a Japanese ticket reservation site! 🙂

“Before the performance, we joined the TONYMOLY makeup class which doubled our enjoyment of watching the performance.”

The way to double your enjoyment of watching <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>!

Come and join the last TONYMOLY makeup class event!

Starting from 3PM on December 8th, Saturday!

Early/on-the-spot registration accepted!

A chance to get your makeup done personally by TONYMOLY’s makeup artist!

Don’t miss your chance! Apply right now!

Application and enquiries: +82-2-751-1500,  cs1500@jeongdong.or.kr

Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>

2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above

STAFF
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee

Ticketing
www.jeongdongtheater.com

VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩

Inquiry
02-751-1500

[The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu] A Dangerous Encounter with Jang Noksu

2018 Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>

Hello! Here is another detailed review by a Korean viewer! Please enjoy this review~ 🙂

Source: https://blog.naver.com/kkkk3026/221381753165

*This post contains spoilers of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>

# Prologue

The day I went to see the performance was a bright and clear day. The good weather combined with my excitement of watching the performance lifted my mood as I travelled to Jeongdong Theater. Jeongdong Theater is located at the end of the Deoksugung Stonewall Road and I decided to spend some time exploring around before the show time of the performance.

As soon as I entered the theater, the stage caught my attention. The words <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> were displayed in red, and above those words, the scattered flower petals seemed to represent the character Jang Noksu. They seemed to represent the combination of the image of “the evil woman who desires power”, most people’s image of Jang Noksu, and the image of “the entertainer who possesses extraordinary skills” which is portrayed by Jeongdong Theater.

The performance began when the cast appeared. The actors showed various skills and liven up the atmosphere while hyping up the audience. Two members of the audience were invited up the stage and the audience was buzzing with excitement before the actual start of the performance.

# Non-verbal Performance

I was confused by the transition to the start of the performance but my confusion was cleared once the actual story began. Unlike other performances that use dialogues to explain the plot, this is a non-verbal performance with no dialogues. (Non-verbal performances refers to performances that only include body movements and sounds, without the use of any dialogues.) I did not know that <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> was a non-verbal performance until the start of the show so at first, I was puzzled as to why the actors were not speaking. The information I read beforehand did not explicitly mention this aspect of the performance and I thought it was a regular play. Nonetheless, I had watched another non-verbal performance ‘NANTA’ previously so I was not too surprised by it. On the other hand, my mother seemed to be more surprised by the absence of dialogues and the use of only body movements of the performance.

I had a concern when I realised the show was a non-verbal performance. How am I supposed to understand the plot? The plot is not a light-hearted one. Rather, it is one based on historical facts. Without any dialogue, I was worried if I could understand the story. Luckily, at the end of each scene, the narrative text explaining the scene appears on two screens at both sides of the stage. This allowed me to understand the summary of the scene and grasp the flow of the story. Now that I think of it, foreign viewers may find it easier to understand the story in this way. More than half of the audience was made up of foreign viewers. Compared to using dialogues in Korean, it may be easier for foreign viewers to understand the flow of the story with a general understanding of the plot while using body movements.

# Directing

Was it because the performance was a non-verbal one? I think the directing of the performance was excellent. There were two scenes that I found the most memorable which came to my mind when I reflected on my experience watching the performance.

One of these scenes was the scene where Jang Noksu was suffering from pressure from the royal subjects. The scene showed Jang Noksu and Yeonsangun playing catch with Jang Noksu wearing the king’s robe, and the beginning of the oppression of the royal subjects. In order to show this scene of oppression, the show chose to use drums. Jang Noksu was surrounded and trapped by drums carried by the royal subjects. To escape from them, Jang Noksu hit the drums, seemingly defending herself. Escape and pursuit, attack and defend. This repeated endlessly, and the tension was at its peak. Despite the lack of dialogues, this scene did a good job in showing Jang Noksu’s greed for power by wearing the king’s robes while intensely fighting against the endless attacks by the royal subjects at the same time.

The other scene was the scene where the royal subjects pressured Yeonsangun. The royal subjects brought scriptures and pressured Yeonsangun who neglected his duties while indulging in pleasures. Personally, this was the most memorable scene and the directing of this scene was the best in the whole performance. At the beginning, each royal subject held a petition scroll and requested the king’s judgement. As more royal subjects appear, it seemed as if Yeonsangun did not hear any of them. The dissatisfaction of the royal subjects grew and they started to pressure the king collectively. This scene of oppression was expressed through the use of the scrolls. Leaving Yeonsangun at the center, each scroll was released. The ends of the lengthened scrolls were held by the royal subjects on both sides, and when they stood up, the scrolls trapped Yeonsangun around his waist.

The growing dissatisfaction against the king who did not care about his duties at all, represented by the copious amount of scrolls, suffocating the king and torturing him. The directing perfectly depicted this.

I was surprised by the directing in further scenes as well. Jang Noksu picked up a sword for the sake of Yeonsangun who was tortured by the scrolls. Using the sword, Yeonsangun ruthlessly killed the royal subjects who oppressed him. Here, parts of the blue lightings turned red at the moment when the king slashed his subjects. At last, when all the royal subjects were killed, all the lights turned red. The red lighting vividly showed that the bloodiness of the Royal Court.

I wonder if the reason why these two scenes left such a deep impression on me was due to the non-verbal aspect of the performance. An ordinary performance would probably use dialogues to explain the story but a non-verbal performance could not do this. This is why I think there had to be much effort put into the directing in order to explain the story. To explain the scenes well, the team probably came up with endless ways for the efficient use of props, lighting, music, movements etc.

# Story

How wonderful would it be if I was as moved by the story as I was by the directing. Compared to the directing, the story was disappointing for me. Honestly, before watching the performance, although I had high expectations of the show, I also had some concerns about the story. Rather than presenting the image of Jang Noksu as one of the three “evil women and temptresses of Joseon”, the show would portray her in a way closer to the image of an “entertainer”. The fact that this was an attempt to approach a historical fact may bring some controversy and would require extreme cautiousness. This was why I could not help but feel worried about the story.

Unfortunately, after the performance ended, this concern of mine remained. In fact, I had another bigger concern. Although the show tried to provide a new perspective by showing the “entertainer Jang Noksu”, I feel like the show did not put a heavy emphasis on this point. The difference between the skills of Jang Noksu compared to the skills of the other performers was not that huge. It may be because the other performers were good or because I’m not an expert in dancing which explains my inability to distinguish their skills. Still, I could not shake off the feeling I had about the part where the historical aspect may be slightly controversial.

I don’t know how other viewers felt, but personally, I did not see Jang Noksu as an “evil woman” or an “entertainer” in this show. I could only see her as a woman who fell in love. I thought it could be possible to show the love triangle between Yeonsangun, Prince Je-an and Jang Noksu. After watching the performance, the drama which had a controversial due to its distortion of history, “Jang Ok-Jung, Living by Love” came to mind. A controversy on whether the reinterpretation of Jang Hui-bin as a woman who loved Sookjeong was an extreme distortion of history arose, and I had a similar concern regarding the performance. It felt like a sad love story about Jang Noksu who fell in love with Yeonsangun and chose to spend her life with him, standing by him and eventually, dying together. It gave me the impression that the theme of the performance had changed to “love”.

I feel that this aspect has to be taken into careful consideration. For those who are not familiar with Jang Noksu and for foreign viewers who make up the majority of the audience, they may remember Jang Noksu only as a woman who fell in love. I hope that more caution can be given to the fact that distorted historical facts may have an influence on the audience after watching the performance.

# Epilogue

Other than the disappointment regarding the story, the other parts of the performance made it a pretty excellent performance. Traditional Korean dance is not an easy genre of dance. After watching the performance, it seemed like a good idea to try to approach traditional Korean dance. Rather than simply showing traditional Korean dance, the performance incorporated contemporary dance into traditional Korean music. This made it easier for those who are watching traditional Korean dance performances for the first time to adapt to the performance. In addition, the audience could watch traditional Korean games being played and this made it an even better experience.

More than anything else, I hope other people will watch the show because of its outstanding directing. I don’t remember being this impressed by the directing of any performances I’ve watched in the past. The appropriate directing that replaces dialogues left a deep impression on me. There is a great difference between what you read from words and the actual experience watching the performance in real life. I hope that those who watch the performance will be able to feel the amazement I felt watching it. The performance will be shown till the end of the year so I hope that those who have free time can make a visit to Jeongdong Theater to watch it.

– This review was made in collaboration with ARTinsight.

Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>

2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above

STAFF
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee

Ticketing
www.jeongdongtheater.com

VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩

Inquiry
02-751-1500

[The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu] Foreigners Curious about Korean Traditions, Come to Jeongdong Theater!

Hello, this is Jeongdong Theater! We have brought you another review by a Korean viewer! Please enjoy this review 🙂

Source: https://blog.naver.com/lynview/221382090821

The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu

– Deadly Cinderella of Joseon Dynasty –

Intro. Before the Actual Content

Posters of various performances can be seen at bus stops. One of those is the poster of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>. Although Jeongdong Theater is located near City Hall Station and Gwanghwamun Station, the poster of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> can be seen near the Seoul Arts Center! It was a pleasant surprise to see the poster so I snapped a photo of it. I’ve seen almost all the productions of Jeongdong Theater, and as always, I looked forward to seeing another performance by the theater!

Seeing Jang Noksu as an Entertainer of Joseon

There have been various works based on Jang Noksu. However, unlike the images of Jang Noksu as the “Female Villain of Joseon”, “Notorious Temptress” and other titles portrayed in the past, works focusing on the fact that Jang Noksu was the best entertainer of Joseon are uncommon.

<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> tells the story of Jang Noksu, a lowly-born slave, who developed her talent as an entertainer and was selected by Prince Je-an to become the star gisaeng of Gaheungcheong. She caught the eye of Yeonsangun and rose to the position of a royal concubine, wielding her authority in the palace. The performance enhanced the romance story between Prince Je-an, Yeonsangun and Jang Noksu to create a brand new theatrical dance performance.

The life of the woman who rose from a lowly-born slave to a royal concubine status is weaved seamlessly with different traditional Korean dances such as the “Janggo Dance”, “Hallyang Dance” and “Gyobang Dance”. In particular, Director Oh Kyung Taek explained that “how to connect dance and drama, and how to convey the journey of the character of Jang Noksu without any dialogues and using solely body movements, dance and facial expressions, were the greatest concerns. The performance was created with its majority being fulfilled through the motif of gibang culture, royal palace culture and folk culture”.

Originally, the repertoires of traditional dance can last 10 to 30 minutes each, however, they were compressed and reduced to 2 to 3 minutes in <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>. In essence, it is not an understatement to say that the performance contains all the extracts of traditional Korean dances.

Until Korean Performances Become A Brand

<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> is a non-verbal performance containing almost zero dialogue. This means that the performance has its advantages and disadvantages and if executed incorrectly, it may become too boring or dull. This point needs to be taken into consideration and combined with a solid storyline and directing and I think that <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> did an excellent job.

The never-ending appearances of group dances and various traditional Korean dances were enough to grab the attention of foreign viewers. The performance tried to retain the traditional aspect of “dance” while preserving its essence. Another advantage is that besides Korean viewers who are familiar with the history and background information of Jang Noksu, viewers who do not know much about her beforehand can easily understand the story as well. Jeongdong Theater performances have a sizeable fraction of foreign viewers and this makes me wonder if the reason for this is due to the appropriate strategy of using detailed acting, instead of dialogue, to convey the content to its target audience.

The popularity of K-Pop with BTS at the center is boosting the tourism industry of Korea. In that case, I wonder if musicals and other performances will have the same effect in the future. I also think Jeongdong Theater has the potential to lead this trend. I actually saw foreigners in the theater and also witnessed their smiles after the performance. Upon seeing their satisfied faces, I felt a sense of satisfaction despite not being involved in the performance.

For us, watching a show is a must if we visit Broadway of New York and West End of London. Similarly, I look forward to Jeongdong Theater creating a new tourism product that represents Korean performances as one brand that will satisfy the growing individual foreign viewers.

The Narrative Text on the Screen Passes Too Quickly?

There are two screens at both sides of the stage displaying narrative text that explains the plot of each scene. However, the narrative text passed too quickly and even as a Korean myself, it was difficult to read the Korean text at such a high speed. My reading speed is not slow and my eyesight is not bad either.

I had this experience while watching other performances of Jeongdong Theater as well. It would be better to slow down the rate at which the captions pass by so that the audience can read them at a comfortable speed while understanding the text and the plot. The acting of the cast may be superb but the story may be slightly complicated for foreigners to understand, so it would be great to show consideration to them and and lower the speed of the captions.

Besides letting the audience understand the plot, it is important to guide foreign viewers so that they are able to understand accurate historical facts. I hope that the audience will leave knowing the historical period at which Jang Noksu rose to become a royal concubine and what kind of woman she was, besides the understanding that Jang Noksu was just a woman who loved Yeonsangun.

– This review was made in collaboration with ARTinsight.

Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>

2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above

STAFF
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee

Ticketing
www.jeongdongtheater.com

VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩

Inquiry
02-751-1500

[The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu] Point of No Return

* This post contains spoilers of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> and the film <The Phantom of the Opera>

Hello! This post is a review of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> with the author comparing the performance to the film <The Phantom of the Opera>! Please enjoy this review 🙂

Source: https://blog.naver.com/rhksfl66/221381693783

Romance to me, a suspicious relationship to others. A musical soulmate and muse to me, an incomprehensible violent obsession to others. The inexpressible feelings after watching <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> can be found in the film <The Phantom of the Opera>. If you’re wondering how a mere well-off and faceless owner of an opera house can be compared to the king of Joseon, not only did both characters show an incomprehensible side, the emotions of the Phantom and Yeonsangun are strangely similar as well.

Known as “the Deadly Cinderella”, the “dangerous” side of “entertainer Jang Noksu” is almost unseen. The unfolding of the plot is straightforward. Jang Noksu caught the eye of Yeonsangun with her talents, and in order to survive in the palace, she heard about Deposed Queen Yun. She enjoyed a boat ride with Yeonsangun and played games, portraying a romantic daily life. Even when Yeonsangun became violent after the death Deposed Queen Yun, Jang Noksu was the only exception from his violence. Yeonsangun and Jang Noksu left the world and those remaining wait for a better world again. As the ending is a simple happy ending, to the foreign viewers, who occupied much of the theater, it may be difficult to understand why these two characters have such a bad reputation today. Their focus may only be on on the exquisite traditional Korean costumes and dance moves. Jang Noksu, especially, showed her outstanding dance skills with her solo dance. However, once she entered the palace, Jang Noksu did not present much of her dancing or singing. She was chosen to enter on an extremely selective basis, and based on her skills, she must have had a great influence on other entertainers. It was a pity that the change in the artistic side of Noksu after she entered the palace was not depicted in detail.

Many questions arise when I think of Jang Noksu. Why did she decide to go on the boat ride with Yeonsangun? Was she afraid of persecution? Or was the splendour she was experiencing at that time so great that she did not fear the future? The show did not provide answers to these questions, rather, it gave the audience some food for thought.

Personally, the clues can be from Christine in <The Phantom of the Opera>. Both Jang Noksu and Christine became Cinderellas overnight. The entertainer Jang Noksu who caught the eye of Prince Je-an and learnt music, and her talents also caught the eye of Yeonsangun. Similarly, Christine was a talented character who caught the attention of the Phantom which led to the Phantom’s desire to keep her as his muse and disciple. Just like how the lowly-born Jang Noksu rose to an incredible royal title suddenly, Christine, if not for the Phantom, would not be able to take the position of prima donna as a chorus girl, given her skills or the opportunities available. Christine was blindly infatuated with the “Angel of Music”. Despite not knowing how he looks like, Christine’s soul clearly matched the Phantom’s and this allowed her to improve musically. She could even “start to hear things that were not heard before”. She wanted to break free after the Phantom’s obsession with murder began. However, she had her worries. Her fear and knowledge of the Phantom’s weakness made her pity the Phantom, yet she felt that the Phantom understands her best and held respect for his musical talent. Similarly, I wonder if Jang Noksu held the same emotions towards Yeonsangun. So what if he’s the king if he lost his mother and is living with an empty heart. I wonder if she held the thought that the face upon seeing her dancing and singing and the unconcerned face with regard to all other things is clearly the same person.

Yeonsangun and the Phantom have one similarity. Both could not suppress their madness caused by their painful past. Despite knowing their problems, they could not overcome them. Yeonsangun’s trauma about his mother and the Phantom’s trauma of his deformed face caused those who love them to fall into danger. Yeonsangun had his honest advisor whom he treasured very much, and the Phantom had the opera’s concierge who had protected him all along. Both had a few handful of people who were willing to accept them despite their flaws. Both might be able to stay together with Jang Noksu and Christine who loved them for a long time. They could have found ways to make that happen. However, both wanted the women to exist only for themselves. This may be love, but may not be love on the other hand. They loved the women’s artistic sides, but they did not love the women themselves, only “the images of the women in their minds”.

However, the reason why Jang Noksu and Christine had different endings was a result of their choices. Christine chose Raoul instead of the Phantom not because of the latter’s deformity, but because of his distorted mind. Although the Phantom had a charismatic side to him, if Christine so wanted, she could have chosen to keep learning music from him and retain her spot as the prima donna. However, she could not bear his obsession and stubbornness, thus choosing freedom. On the other hand, Jang Noksu chose the opposite. She accepted the distorted mind of Yeonsangun. She could not change him nor his mind and so she chose to lead a magnificent life with him. She did as Yeonsangun pleased and did not try to stop him. From historical records, she did not stop him from killing those who tried to oppress her power. This was her choice, as an entertainer or a person. Although this led to her death eventually, it was something she had already known.

Being a non-verbal performance, a clear advantage is that the audience was able to focus on the body movements of the performers. The first part of the show included something similar to an ice-breaking activity where two members of the audience were selected to participate in traditional Korean games onstage, which was fun as the atmosphere became lively. Also, the effects which could not have been presented with words were memorable. There were two scenes that were the most memorable to me – the scenes where Jang Noksu and Yeonsangun had to go through the pressure and restraints in the palace respectively. For Jang Noksu, she fought against the royal subjects by hitting the drums representing the royal subjects. She played numerous drums alone and once it seemed like she had the possibility of winning, her drum sticks were taken away from her. It seemed as if nothing was going to work even if she tried her hardest. The burden Yeonsangun had to bear was similar. This was my favourite scene. Long scrolls containing petitions surrounded him like a spiderweb, trapping him in a web of conspiracy.

Was the scene conveying the idea that the person who wore the crown had to bear the weight of it? Many kings had to fall because of the weight of the crown, and when a king had fallen, countless number of people under him had to fall together as well. Even though one may not have wanted to be a king, he was born as one and so he had to bear the burden of one. Yeonsangun may be one of them. Although it may seem as if he has supreme authority, he could only do one thing in reality. Using obvious tactics such as spreading rumours to gain strength, he was the reason for his mother’s early death by his father and the people in royal palace who kept silent. For Jang Noksu, if she did not choose to be the king’s woman and instead chose Prince Je-an and continued to be a gisaeng and led a life akin to her free personality, she could had been remembered as someone like Hwang Jini.

Even after they expressed their anger or achieved revenge, Yeonsangun and the Phantom did not become happy. Yeonsangun could have driven out opposing forces and tried building a splendour kingdom of his own. If the Phantom did not obsess over Christine or killed those who did not follow his orders, the stage or the theater would not have fallen into danger. He could have become a popular and famous composer and people would have met all the conditions he had. Instead of a strange ghost, he could have become a fussy yet excellent composer.

Although it can be said that nothing could have been done, their choices brought about their endings. Jang Noksu was not able to replace the gap left by Yeonsangun’s mother. Christine was unable to love the pitiable Phantom who went through so much pain. This is the reason why the ending of the Tale of Jang Noksu felt a little lighter. It would have been better if her ending was depicted in a more tragic way. Jang Noksu and Yeonsangun did not resist the coup to depose them. Although they did not resist it, it cannot be said that their minds were at peace. Jang Noksu chose Yeonsangun and the decision of Yeonsangun could not rely on anything else, and unfortunately led to the ending of the two characters. If this had been expressed in the show, I wonder if the audience would be able to better understand the stances of the protagonists.

The conversation shared between Jang Noksu and Yeonsangun on the boat while hearing the cries of the peasants can be thought along with the number <Point of No Return> in <The Phantom of the Opera>. This song was sung by Christine who wanted the attention of the Phantom and stood onstage despite knowing that she was acting a bait. It was the first time both of them shared a song, not in the darkness but under the spotlight. Although whether she is remembered as a femme fatale or a Cinderella depends on people’s minds, to me, the entertainer Jang Noksu leaves behind a song melody that resembles this.

Past the point of no return

The games we’ve played till now are at an end

Past all thought of “if” or “when”

No use resisting

Past the point of no return

The final threshold

The bridge in crossed, so stand and watch it burn

We’ve passed the point of no return

– This review was made in collaboration with ARTinsight.

Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>

2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above

STAFF
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee

Ticketing
www.jeongdongtheater.com

VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩

Inquiry
02-751-1500