History drama has a specific way of expressing and interpreting the past which may be called ‘dramatic turn.’ In oder word, history drama intends to understand and describe the past dramatically. Based upon this assumption, this study deals with the ...
History drama has a specific way of expressing and interpreting the past which may be called ‘dramatic turn.’ In oder word, history drama intends to understand and describe the past dramatically. Based upon this assumption, this study deals with the following research questions: ① what is the theoretical frame proper for the analysis of history drama ② what are the features of Korean history drama when it is analyzed under that theoretical frame
History drama can be discussed in three dimensions: ① the selection of historical material, ② the reconstruction of selected historical material, ③ the social effect of dramatic reconstruction. The dramatization of the past begins with selecting a specific historical material, and then proceeds to remake it dramatically and aesthetically. Accordingly we have to pay attention to the ways of remaking the past dramatically, that is, the use of specific dramatic and plot forms, the evoked memory-image, and the historical viewpoint adopted. The resulting dramatization of the past may cause a social effect, suggesting a certain collective identity by evoking a special sense of the past.
Using the above theoretical frame, this study attempts to analyze two Korean plays dramatizing the usurpation of the throne by King Sejo. In the selection of historical material, <Sayukcin> focuses on the failed revolt against King Sejo, while <Tae> depicts the crisis of succeeding the pedigree caused by the usurpation of the throne. The failed revolt of <Sayukcin> is aesthetically reconstructed by the adoption of melodrama and linear plot, thus accusing the sinister world for its failure. <Tae> tries to reconstruct the past aesthetically, using the episodic form departing from realism in oder to depict the schizophrenic rupture caused by the usurpation of the throne.
The failed revolt of <Sayukcin> is also glorified by the historical view of hero who undergoes the martyrdom. The schizophrenic world depicted in <Tae>, on the other hand, is signified by the reactionary view of history such as shamanist and Confucian ways of thinking. The result is the absence of ‘historical analogies’ comparing the past with the present. <Tae>, like <Sayukcin>, remains as an old story that hardly helps to understand the present. The memory-image evoked by <Sayukcin> is ‘the flood of tear,’ the symbol of moral purity. This image justifies the failed history aesthetically. The memory-image of <Tae> is the bloodshed violating the moral norm and the ensuing history haunted by a sense of sin.
<Sayukcin> and <Tae> generate the social effect, defining our collective identity in each own way. The collective identity suggested in <Sayukcin> is the history suffering failure owing to the evil of the world, and the failed history justified aesthetically by the virtue of martyrdom and moral purity. The collective identity alluded in <Tae> is the schizophrenic history attended by the bloodshed threatening the succession of pedigree, and the history suffering a sense of guilty.