"Yoo Gwan Sun?" "I'm just an ordinary person who likes to play and is a pretty good hip-hop dancer. What would I know about Yoo Gwan Sun …"
Lines from 'The Flower Lives and Sings,' a play in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the death of martyr Yoo Gwan Sun. Graduates of Ehwa Girls' High School are busily practicing to put up the play.
Director Choi Ji Eun (class of 86, 7th Biblical Drama Team) describes the play as "an unusual attempt to reconstruct the inner struggles of an ordinary 16-year-old girl, not an independence fighter, by relating it to the lives of youths today."
The intention is to look for aspects of Yoo Gwan Sun in the people of the 21st century by visiting the historical figure using the devise of 'a play within a play.'
The play ends with a slide show containing witness accounts of the civilian massacre that took place in Jeam-ri, Yoo Gwan Sun's hometown.
The play, put up by 20 students and graduates of Ehwa Girls' High School Biblical Drama Team, happens to be the 80th performance by the drama team, making it even more meaningful. With 17 days left to performance day, team members practice from 4 in the afternoon till dawn, and yet they look far from tired, their faces wreathed in smiles.
Kim Eun Yeong (class of 86, 7th Biblical Drama Team), who will be acting alongside her juniors, is well known as the first actress to take on the role in Pumbba (an open play about a band of beggars who wander around sprouting satirical humor). She hurried back to join her alma mater after her performance in the play 'The Ogre that Went to the Forest,' a joint project by Korea, China and Japan. She is passionately involved in the play, even bringing her ill baby and laying it in a corner while practicing.
One second-year student laughingly confides, "My parents think that I have given up drama and is concentrating on my studies."
Numerous graduates currently working as make-up artists, costume designers, stage artists and so on have contributed to the play, forming close ties with their juniors. Says Director Choi, "I didn't know that a senior from so long ago like Yoo Gwan Sun could become the ties that bind juniors and seniors together."
In the midst of preparing to stage the play, the team members paid a visit to childhood home of Yoo Gwan Sun. They were surprised to find no proper grave or memorial hall: just an empty house, a statue and a memorial grave. Before they visited Yoo Gwan Sun's hometown, the team members had "thought of Yoo Gwan Sun only as a martyr and a heroine." But the visit helped them "feel a personal affection for Yoo after realizing how painful and terrifying the experience must have been for the young girl."
Yoo Gwan Sun
Activist who fought for the independence of Korea. Born in 1902 in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province. When the March 1st Independence Movement began in 1919, she was a student at Ehwa School, and she joined in the street demonstrations with fellow students. On April 1, she was giving out Korean national flags to some 3,000 people in Aonae market and leading the demonstration, when she was arrested by Japanese soldiers. She was taken to Seodaemun prison, where she passed away while serving her sentence. She was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit for National Foundation in 1962.