Three questions for Jaha Koo

We are delighted to be able to welcome Jaha Koo back to Black Box teater with the performance THE HISTORY OF KOREAN WESTERN THEATER. We had a chat with him about the piece and his work The Hamartia trilogy.

Welcome back Jaha Koo! Could you introduce yourself to the ones that are not so familiar with you and your work?

My name is Jaha Koo. I’m a theater maker, music composer and videographer. I was born in South Korea at the end of the Cold War, and I spent my teenager hood and twenties in Seoul. Those years were the period of cultural upheaval by the U.S.-centered world economic order in South Korea. At the end of my twenties, I moved to Europe for the purpose of exploring international diversity and developing my artistic practice. In 2014, I launched a long term project, called The Hamartia Trilogy. It focuses on how the inescapable past tragically affects our lives today, especially by western canon. The trilogy is composed by Lolling and Rolling, Cuckoo and The History of Korean Western Theatre. In 2018, I performed Cuckoo at Black Box teater.

The Hamartia trilogy is about how Western ideology has affected South Korean society. Could you elaborate and tell us a little bit more about it?

The last 100 years, most of developing countries spent turbulent times by Western Canon. South Korea was no exception. Geographically Korea was encircled by Japan, China and Russia. It was an imperial battlefield, and Japan started to occupy Korea in 1910 for a period 35 years. In that period, Japanese imperialists instituted a policy to obliterate Korean culture, and they operated their own cultural policy under the name of Modernization. Unfortunately, the modernization was a compelled Westernization by Japanese interpretation. In 1945, Japan surrendered to the U.S, and South Korea was established by U.S military government. Automatically South Korea became an outpost for the great ideological battle. With these all colonial processes, authentic autonomous modernization didn't happen in South Korea. The Korean modern theatre was born in this period as a mixture of Japan, U.S. and Europe without wield artistic form in these turbulent times. In my performance, The History of Korean Western Theatre, I try to figure out my own theatrical practice for the future.

In 2018 you visited Black Box teater during Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival with the performance Cuckoo. Those who had the opportunity to see it know you dialogue with a rice cooker about themes similar to the ones discussed in this latest piece. We are curious to know if Cuckoo (the rice cooker) will appear once again in this piece?

For people who haven’t seen my performance, Cuckoo, I’d like to explain that Cuckoo is an electronic rice cooker. I hacked the rice cooker with my hardware hacker to make it a theater performer. Fortunately, Cuckoo is with me again and this time as a co-performer on stage. Together we explore the last 100 years history of Korean theatre. But please don’t get us wrong, we will not give you a history lecture. People who enjoyed Cuckoo’s singing last time, I strongly recommend seeing The History of Korean Western Theatre. Cuckoo will host you, singing songs with my music and video.

The History of Korean Western Theatre vises fredag 9. og lørdag 10. september

+ 9. september, Foajé, Aftertalk with Jaha Koo