Meager ticket sales have been a chronic problem for local theaters. Despite various gimmicks, including the recent trend of recruiting popular television or movie actors to star in the dramas, the industry faces the challenge of fostering a genuine interest in theater.
But good stories never fail to move people. A case-in-point is one small theater play that has been drawing a steady and substantial audience, even though no heartthrobs are in it.
"I Love You", a stage adaptation of the hit online cartoon by Kang Full
(Kang Do-young) - which was serialized on the Korean portal website Daum in 2007 - recently started its second run in Daehangno, Seoul, following an enthusiastic response during the first run.
"I Love You" is considered one of best works by Kang, who is noted for creating tender dramas.
The cartoon deals with the love life of some low-income elderly people, which is not a common topic for a contemporary play, and certainly not a likely magnet for young people.
The story spotlights two older couples - one involving a milkman and a woman who gathers and sells discarded papers to make a living; the other between a valet in a parking lot who devotedly looks after his senile wife.
Readers have laughed and cried over the cartoon, thanks to Kang's insight into the human heart. The cartoon is peppered with wit.
The play premiered in Seoul back in April.
Naturally, at the beginning there was much doubt about whether the play could match the power of the cartoon. Many wondered how the piece could work within the limitations of time and space on the stage.
Yet the stage adaptation received good reviews from viewers and critics, according to the production company Tripro. Most people in the audience felt that play presented characters who looked like real versions of those from the cartoon, and that the drama was moving.
This season, veteran TV actor Choi Joo-bong
has joined the cast to double in the role of Kang Man-soo, who seems eccentric and harsh, but is actually a rather warmhearted milkman.
"I was so moved by the cartoon and the play version that I cried a lot while watching it. And I accepted the offer for the role right away", said Choi at a recent press conference in Seoul.
Although performing live has been challenging for this actor in his 60s, he said he wants to make this an opportunity to draw older people to the theater and entertain them.
The actor added that he thinks he is still a bit young to play a 77-year-old man.
"But, since the play is on an open run, I hope to become better at it over time", he said.
"I Love You" is being performed at The Good Theater in Daehangno. Tickets are 35,000 won. For more information, call (02) 742-9005 or visit Open the link
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