Korean Trojan Women: Performing wartime sexual violence

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Abstract

Aida Karic's The Trojan Women: An Asian Story (2007), an international collaboration between a Bosnian-born director and a Korean choreographer, a Korean composer, and a Korean theatre company, was first produced at the Schauspielhaus Wien in Austria and then toured to the United States and South Korea. Karic's The Trojan Women interweaves the history of Japanese military sexual slavery, particularly of Korean survivors, with Euripides's The Trojan Women. It relies on identifiable markers of Koreanness, such as the musical style of pansori and the visual imagery of shamanic ritual movement, to locate the narrative as a Korean tragedy. I argue that the re-visioning of these Korean cultural forms, such as the use of cloth in the ritual scene, offers a symbolic reclamation of violated bodies while providing a redressive space for the audience to witness the long history of wartime sexual violence against women. Elizabeth W. Son is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the relationship between performance and politics in a transnational Asian/American context. In her book manuscript, Embodying Redress: Comfort Women, Performance, and the Transpacific Politics of Memory, under contract with the University of Michigan Press, she explores the political and cultural significance of performances in South Korea, Japan, and the United States that reckon with the history of Japanese military sexual slavery. She looks specifically at the work of Korean and U.S. Korean diasporic subjects in protests, tribunals, theatre, and memorial building as sites for reimagining what constitutes redress. Her articles have appeared in Theatre Survey, Theater, and e-misférica.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-394
Number of pages26
JournalAsian Theatre Journal
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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