In the jubilee year, the Republican Korean Theater in Almaty, as a recognition of high professionalism and exceptional talent, received a high academic status.
For many years, remaining the spiritual and cultural center of the Koreans of Kazakhstan, this theater in Almaty is truly unique: there is no State Korean Academic Theater anywhere in the world, except for our republic and Korea itself! On November 25, the troupe celebrated a solid 85th anniversary. Honored guests, colleagues from other national theaters of the southern capital, and loyal fans of the collective’s creativity, and, of course, those who once served here, came to congratulate her and say “Bravo!” once again. And the culprits of the celebration, the artists, in honor of their anniversary and as a gift to the audience, presented a colorful production with national music and dances, monologues-revelations, soulful poems and songs in different languages, scenes from their favorite performances. The production director was the legendary Oleg Li (pictured), an honored artist, an actor who is known for his bright, talented works to many generations of viewers, since Soviet times…
For 85 years, the Korean Musical Comedy Theater has presented about 350 performances and concert programs, more than six million viewers applauded the artists during these years. Today, as well as decades ago, the theater’s repertoire includes a variety of productions: along with national and modern Korean performances, Kazakh, foreign and Russian classics, as well as works by modern playwrights are presented on its stage. Traditional genres of national art are also actively developing in the theater, they are represented in all their beautiful colors by the Samulnori folk percussion ensemble, the Korean dance ballet troupe, vocalists and a drama troupe.
It is worth noting that all performances are performed in Korean with simultaneous translation, thereby opening up the original Korean culture for everyone who wants to touch it.
— I have always said and say that our theater is a phenomenon that has developed as a result of certain historical processes, — Lyubov NI, director of the Republican Academic Korean Musical Comedy Theater, does not hide her pride. — We are very glad that we came to Kazakhstan, and we really appreciate it. Because it is here that, according to the principle of “One country — one family”, we, the Korean theater, are an integral part of our culture, emphasize its diversity. Not so long ago we were in London, participated in the festival in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Kazakh playwright Dulat Isabekov, which was held with the support of members of the House of Lords of the British Parliament. At a meeting in the House of Lords, they ask me: “What about equality in your country?” I answered this with a question: “Do you have any state cultural institutions in the UK, a huge multinational country, for example, Arabs or Koreans?” – “No”. And I say: “And we have more than one!” My interlocutor paused and said: “Yes, this is tolerance…” he had nothing more to add. We, living here, feel all this, and in fact it is a fact that shows that our country is unique, as our culture is unique. We are representatives of different nationalities and speak different languages. And the 85th anniversary of our theater is a factor of the fact that we live and develop here, that we not only preserve, but also develop our national culture, while being an integral part of the diverse culture of the whole of Kazakhstan. We are preparing for the release of the book “Korean Academic Theater”, deliberately not specifying the country where this theater is. Do you know why? Because this is a phenomenon that is nowhere else in the world! Academic Korean theater is only here in Kazakhstan! Even in the ethnic homeland — in North and South Korea — there are state theaters. But there is no academic anywhere! And I am very proud, I really appreciate what we are, I really value my team and the fact that our theater brings together the most talented artists of various generations — from children to grandparents. I want to wish them all health and happiness, and most importantly — may our country prosper, so that we all flourish together with it!
Order No. 197, September 1932. Paragraph 1: Comrade KimThai is appointed director of the organized Korean traveling theater. Paragraph 2: Comrade KimYou can start forming a theater and organizing a permanent base for it in the mountains. Vladivostok.
The history of the theater began in Vladivostok — in 1932, the first in the world appeared here (!) Korean theater: by the decision of the Far Eastern Regional Executive Committee, it was organized on the basis of Korean drama club circles, Kim-Thay became the head of the Far Eastern Regional Korean Theater. Its main task was to stage performances based on original Korean plays. Only in the first five years, the artists presented “The Torch of Dian Feng Don” based on the work of Yong Sung—nen – about the liberation struggle of Koreans against the Japanese occupation of Korea, productions of “Between” (about collectivization) and “Slaves” (about the armed uprising in Korea) by the playwright Thai Dian Chun, “The Legend of the Girl Chun Hyang” Lee Den Nima, this performance was subsequently in the repertoire of the theater for many years, and “The Legend of the Girl Sim Chen” by Tsai Yong.
Five years passed, 1937 came, and in the autumn the deportation of Koreans from the Far East began, as a result of which some of the theater artists ended up in Tashkent, and some in Kzyl—Orda, where they created a so-called traveling theater troupe to serve the Korean population, which performed mostly literally in the field — in front of collective farmers in the very hot time during sowing and harvesting.
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the repertoire of the now Kzyl-Orda regional Korean Music and Drama Theater (the troupe received this status a year earlier) included military works with which the artists performed in hospitals, as well as in front of Soviet citizens evacuated to Kazakhstan. In the period from 1942 to 1945, performances were also staged in accordance with the challenges of the time, among them were the works of Konstantin Simonov.
In January 1942 — another move, this time the artists were in the Taldy-Kurgan region. The theater, along with the deployment, also changed its name to Taldy—Kurgan Regional Korean Music and Drama Theater.
But what happened to the part of the troupe that came from Vladivostok to Tashkent? The artists did not forget their vocation, they continued to play, and in 1950 the Tashkent and Taldy-Kurgan regional Korean Music and Drama Theater merged into Ush-Tobe. And before settling in 1968 in Alma-Ata and becoming the Republican Korean Musical Comedy Theater, the troupe returned to Kyzyl-Orda once again for nine years…
Since then, a new chapter in the life of the Korean Musical Comedy Theater has begun — with successful tours, recognition of colleagues, critics and the public, invitations to festivals… One of which, by the way, the State Republican Korean Musical Comedy Theater initiated itself. In 2010, the International Theater Festival “Silk Road” was held in Seoul, in which the collectives of the Kazakh Academic Drama Theater named after M. Auezov, the State Academic Russian Drama Theater named after Lermontov, the Kazakh Theater for Children and Youth named after him took part. Musrepova.
In 2013, an agreement was signed between the Center for the Preservation of the Spiritual Heritage of the Republic of Korea and the State Republican Korean Musical Comedy Theater, within the framework of which specialists in traditional national arts annually conduct master classes at the Korean theater with subsequent joint performances.
And in 2014, at the International Theater Festival in Kunsan, the theater team received a special medal and a letter of thanks from the Association of Theater Societies of the Republic of Korea for the development of bilateral cultural ties.
In the same year, a grand tour of nine major cities of Russia took place with a theatrical performance “Bound by one Fate” dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the resettlement of Koreans to Russia.
Today, the work of their colleagues is continued by the fourth generation of artists, many of whom came to the stage after their parents, and someone found their soulmate on it. They also adequately and professionally show their national culture and art, telling about life with its joys and sorrows. Preserving their traditions and passing them on to the younger generation, they enrich the life and inner world of not only representatives of the Korean people, but also all Kazakhstanis, confirming with their high creativity what Kazakhstan is rightfully proud of — the value of interethnic harmony in our country.
Photo by Eduard GALEEV.