“Miso” the Original Korean Musical: Baebijang-Jeon

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If you are currently located in South Korea and if you love theatre, don’t miss “Miso” the Korean Musical at the downtown Seoul. They are the finest theatre producer in Korea that I know of that breaks the language barrier for foreign audiences, yet at the same time having huge local viewership. Try to google a bit and you’ll surely find people raving about “Miso”. (Not the one for drinking of course^^) . I have to say the show was a spectacular line up of traditional music, lighting and vibrant colours of the elegant traditional costumes of Korea.

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If you do not know about Jeongdong Theatre’s Miso show yet, here are some facts for you:

  • Over the past 14 years, Miso has attracted a total of approximately 650,000 people.
  • As an exceptional show of Korean tradition and culture, Miso has been particularly well received by international fans.
  • Miso has been a contributing factor in spreading ‘Korean Fever’ as worldwide audiences gain a deeper appreciation of the traditional art, beauty and elegance of Korea.

jeongdong theatre seoul

Thanks to KTO, I was able to enjoy a lovely afternoon at Jeongdong Theatre. It was a hot and sunny afternoon when we arrived at the place. Before we start, here is a brief introduction to Jeongdong Theatre:

Jeondong Theater (정동 극장) was opened in 1977 with the aim to perform traditional Korean dance and music, delighting audiences of all ages. Years later in 2008, they remarketed their show and named it as ‘Miso’  (美笑, literally it means beautiful, smile) and adapted into a traditional dance drama/love story chronicling the four seasons of Korea.

jungdong theatreSince then, they have been receiving love by people from all over the world and ranked as “Level of Satisfaction #1” , Best Performance Award, which was chosen by foreign audiences.  The theatre has been delivering amazing pieces every season since then, with pride and their unique interpretation of traditional Korean dance and music.

길들어지기 정동

picture courtesy of 길들여지기

They have a restaurant bar with good ambience at the ground level. Do check them out if you are keen. Me and my mom had a wonderful date here at their restaurant bar 길들여지기here 2 years ago. I must say it is a good choice for a romantic dinner and theatre date night for couples. They have a solid wine list as well!

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The theatre is located at the basement. You’ll need to purchase or collect your ticket at the counter. Check in your bags at the counter if you want to. Especially if you have been shopping before the show. I remembered they have a Hanbok ( Korean traditional costume) booth for visitors to wear them on to take pictures. However, they do not have that this time round. : (

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Here we are inside the theatre. As cameras are not allowed throughout the show,  I couldn’t take pictures of the fantastic performance and share them with you. However, I manage to find some pictures from their official site, check them out here in the post!

The show we are watching today is called Baebijang-jeon (배비장전 裵裨將傳), which is one of the representative literature of Satirical Novel of the Joseon Dynasty – It talks about the fateful encounter of Secretary Bae, an official that we can’t help but love, and Ae-rang, a beautiful woman who is proud and clever. It is a new work of Jeongdong Theatre in 2014 and it just started showing about 2 weeks ago!

Here I quote the pamphlet:

It doesn’t just present traditional dance and music in a one dimensional dance drama. It goes on to heighten the beauty of form as a holistic performance by harmonizing rhythm, melody, theatrical devices and the Korean traditional dance steps.

Cool enough? Here we go to the Synopsis:

miso jeong dong

Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

Bae Geol-deok-swe, who always tries to maintain the honor of the gentry, is appointed the government position of the secretary in charge of culture and art. He goes to his new post at Jeju Island with the new district magistrate.

baebijiang jeon

Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

배비장전 정동극장

Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

Gisaeng Ae-rang, the legendary beauty in Jeju, who dreams of true love.

baebijiang jeon korea musical

Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

In Jeju Island, Secretary Bae doesn’t mingle with the people at the welcoming party of the new magistrate. Instead, he goes around scolding the other secretaries for socializing with gisaengs (courtesans).

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Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

The magistrate wants to test Secretary Bae who vows never to be seduced by any kind of temptation, so the magistrate declares that he’ll handsomely reward anyone who can seduce Secretary Bae. Ae-rang, one of Jeju Island’s most beautiful women, comes forward, saying she’ll seduce him. The man-servant that works for Secretary Bae agrees to help her. Secretary Bae, who would talk big about the honor of the gentry, sees Ae-rang taking a bath at the waterfall and immediately falls in love with her. With the help of his man-servant, Secretary Bae heads over to Ae-rang’s house.

korea musical 2014

Picture courtesy of Jeong Dong Theatre.

What happened at Ae-rang’s house then? Of course, I won’t tell you here! It will not be fun if I tell you everything here before you catch the show yourself, isn’t it? ^^

Being a second time and satisfied audience of Jeongdong Theatre, my feel is that they have a really amazing band and choreographer. Like any other contemporary musical, they use live traditional music band as accompaniment (how cool is it!). Various traditional dance movement were tastefully choreographed into the piece.

Secondly, the amazing and enormous amount of  vivid colours on the stage. From the myriad of changes of the lighting to the costumes of the gisaengs, we see an abundant selection of colours in the entire 80 minutes show. I really admire the selection of the colours especially on their costumes, truly Korea!

Last but not least, their actors and actresses, I mean, good looking actors and actresses. You get to see the handsome oppas and pretty unnies all at once! And also taking pictures with them at the end of the show too~

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Below is a preparation video of Baebijang-Jeon taken from Miso’s Facebook. It gives you a better idea of how the production team comes up with the splendid lighting design and the magnificent stage. Look at the sophisticated arranging of the props and the layering of the background! Kudos to Team Baebijang-Jeon!

 

My Verdict: I always love Jeongdong Theatre’s production as they guarantee both artistic value and popular appeal in their work. I have watched two of their recent shows by now (first one was “Love Songs of Chun Hyang” and I love it to bits!) and both of them left me very positive impression. It is fascinating and entertaining. You don’t need to have fine and meticulous Korean arts or cultural background to be able to understand and enjoy the whole show. The lighting, costumes and the stage is beautifully designed and I am sure you will be dazzled by all these impressive stage elements. Have fun watching!


Contact Details:

Jeongdong Theatre (정동극장)[ Read: Jeong-dong Geuk-Jang] 43, Jeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul.
Korean version of the address: 서울시 중구 정동길 43 정동극장 

Performance Time: 
Open Run 16:00, 20:00 (closed on Monday)

Admission Fees: 
VIP seats: KRW 60,000
R seats: KRW 50,000
S seats: KRW 40,000

Duration of Performance: 
1 hr 20 mins.

Ticket Reservations: 
+82-2-751-1500
Miso website: www.koreamiso.com (click the link)
K-Performance: www.kperformance.org (click the link)

How To Get There? 
1. If you are coming from Blue Line (Line 1) , exit from Exit.1.
2. Walk straight for about 30 seconds where you could see the Deoksugung Palace stone wall street.
3. Follow this stone wall and it will lead you to the theatre. The whole journey takes 5 mins. by walking.
** if you are coming from Green Line (Line 2), take exit 12. Then follow the small alley at your left hand side, walk straight until you see the stone wall street. Follow the stone wall street and you will reach Jeongdong Theatre soon.

how to go to jeongdong theatre seoul

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