“Do you think it’s funny when friends make fun of me because I’m from North Korea?”
This is amongst the lines of Jin Hee, a high school girl being bullied by classmates for her North Korean origins in the play “Memories of Chagang Province,” which takes a close look at the experiences of North Korean defectors in South Korea. The part was played by Park Joo Yang, an actress who herself defected from the North, and the play was sponsored by the Ministry of Unification.
It is an original play relating the stories of defectors, including a construction site worker, a housekeeper, and a high school girl, following their efforts to make a new life for themselves in South Korea. Three actors who defected from North Korea elected to participate in a training camp prior to the performance, as they harbored concerns regarding their lack of acting experience. But their efforts and rehearsals have paid off, with emotional performances conveying the joys and sorrows of defector life.
A South Korean member of the audience said, “Before watching this play, I didn’t think much about defectors. Now I am heartbroken to hear that so many of them are leading difficult lives, like the characters in the play. … I hope the people of South Korea can be more sympathetic towards people of different backgrounds,”
Unlike other plays about North Korea, which often center on stories about the prison camp system or the grim process of defection, this play sought to focus on the lives of defectors as they settle down.