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I Bet My Life on the Musical 'Yoduk Story'

Director Jeong Sung San, Menaced to Stop the Musical Production
Kim Yong Hun, Reporter  |  2006-02-10 15:37
[imText1]Jeong Sung San, who in the process of making the musical, Yoduk Story that describes the reality of gulags, is currently receiving direct and indirect threats from the South Korean government to halt the production. He said, I bet my life on this musical to put on the show and urged for support from different social levels.

Jeong said he was threatened by government officials by statements like, Its not even difficult to kill a person like you. Yet he said, [such threats] Ignited an unyielding spirit within me. Jeong started the production last year and in the meantime, he received three to four phone calls from government agencies threatening him.

Although it is emotionally difficult, during the rehearsals, we forget everything, and the actors and all the staff become one. We will make human rights a reality in North Korea through the power of culture, said Jeong.

The DailyNK visited the practice room where the musical Yoduk Story is being rehearsed, and met Director Jeong. Although he looked utterly tired and fatigued, he seemed stronger than before.

Completion of Yoduk Story is More Important that Anything Else

- Tell us about the government threat you received. When and how did they threaten you?

Yoduk Story was to be shown in a theater in Dehakro (literally means college street, refers to a place in Northern Seoul where art and cultural performances are concentrated). Then the theater unilaterally cancelled our show. Since it was a theater run by the government, it was predictable. Then a government official called me.

He told me, Its not even difficult to kill a person like you, and There is nobody without dirt when dusted off, to threaten me and hoped to threaten me enough to make me give up the show.

But then an unyielding spirit ignited in me. I met the officials in Dehakro. I told them, Do whatever you want. I fought back by saying that if they keep on threatening me like this, I will let the media know of this.

After that, the government officials became much softer, trying to convince me by saying, We were ordered to do things from above. Now it seems like they understand my position.

- The production of Yoduk Story had received pressure to stop from the beginning. Why are you letting it be known now?

In fact, I wanted to call for media attention to fight back from the beginning, but I also had to think about the actors who share the pie. I was worried that they would be negatively affected by me. I waited and endured. Now that we are facing much financial problem, I could not endure anymore. Completing Yoduk Story is more important than anything else, so I decided to make our situation known to the public.

- What do you think is the reason for the government pressure?

From the Roh administration's perspective, Yoduk Story, it is argued, can aggravate (irritate) North Korea. I think they threaten me because they believe talking about North Korean human rights, which is a shameful aspect of the North Korean government, is against the appeasement policy of the South Korean government towards the North.

[imText2]- How will you respond?

I am going to write a letter to President Roh Moo Hyun. After the show has ended, I will hold a one-man strike in front of the Blue House. As for the appeasement policy towards the North, I think we have to give North Korea what it deserves, but the cruel public executions, confinement, and physical violence which are clear examples of human rights violations, must disappear.

President Roh must recognize the truth telling of the North Korean human rights violations. I hope he listens to the human rights organizations demands for North Korean human rights and what Yoduk Story tells.

Yoduk Story is not false, it is true

- Do you plan to align with other organizations?

I will very actively. I am going to do everything I can to realize North Korean human rights. Of course, I am going to do my best to make it know through cultural power, but if the government becomes an obstacle like this time, we will make our demands know by aligning with NGOs.

- I head you are having serious financial difficulties.

We might not be able to put up the show. All the investors left. I am doing everything I can to make money including signing on contracts to sell my organs.

The money people owe from tickets exceeds $100,000. Many people bought tickets saying they will help out, but they did not pay. When we call them, they get angry.

Some conservative organizations are helping us, but many of them only have hearts, so in reality, there is no help. I urge for active support..

- Did not actors change their mind?

Of course they did. However, Yoduk Story is not false. It is real. As we repeat the rehearsals, the actors become more and more aware of North Korean human rights. When I see the actors crying during the rehearsals I become very encouraged. With them, we can make it through, even the difficult path.

Although Jung is worried that pro-North Korea forces will hinder the show once it starts, he said, we will fight back. He was worried that the actors may be discouraged by the given difficulties.

Without them, we cannot make Yoduk Story. I will make it worth the effort of the actors, who do not save their bodies for the show, said Jung.

Director Jeong left his last words to encourage his own heart. I dedicate Yoduk Story to my parents who died in public execution.

Jeongs parents are known to have been stoned to death in public execution in a North Korean gulag.

Contact Yoduk Story : (02) 569-4483,
Support Yoduk Story: Standard Chartered Bank / 136-20-055404 / Account holder - Kim Kyong Mi, Yoduk Story
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