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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

KCC’s Theatre on screen No 2: Madame Ong

After a break of a couple of months, the KCC is resuming its welcome series of screenings of videos of life theatrical performances. If you are a voracious follower of Korean film you will have seen a movie adaptation of this risqué traditional story: Shin Han-sol’s A Tale of Legendary Libido (가루지기, 2008), which IMDB describes as a “raunchy American Pie-esque sex comedy done Korean style…in period setting!”. If the theatre version is anything like the movie, I can see why the KCC suggests you need to be 18 or over to come along on 21 May…

Theatre On Screen No2: Madame Ong

Date/Time : Thursday 21st May 2015, 7pm
Venue : Korean Cultural Centre UK/ Multi-Purpose Hall
Running Time : 126mins
Genre : Korean Traditional Opera (Screening)
*18 – Suitable only for persons of 18 years and older.



Madame Ong is based on the pansori folktale Byeongangsoe-jeon, which is widely regarded as being a folktale for adults, and was the first R-rated changgeuk from the ‘Lost Pansori Restoration Project’. The story has often been overlooked for its strong language and sexual content, and the Pansori had been disappeared. The undercurrent beneath the plot deals with ordinary people’s lives, pains and sorrows in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Director Ko Sun-woong makes his first attempt to direct the traditional Korean opera. While maintaining the DNA of humour found in the original, Ko reinvents the characters to recreate the overlooked pansori and present a well-made changgeuk. His efforts resulted in him being awarded the prestigious Cha Beom-seok Drama Award for Best Musical Script.


Ong-nyeo, from Wolgyeong village, has an attractive face and alluring figure, but her only problem is her continuous bad luck. She seems destined to live as a widow. Indeed, all the men she marries die within a year of their wedding to her. What is worse is that not only her husbands but also any man who desires or makes love with her also dies. Ong-nyeo is finally exiled from the village for her apparent curse.

Heading south, Ong-nyeo reaches Cheongseok town, where she meets Byeon Gangsoe. It seems as if they were destined to be together. They start living together however, Byeon Gangsoe spends all of their money on gambling and drinking. No longer able to afford living in the town the couple have no choice but to live on Mt. Jiri. Byeon Gangsoe still doesn’t do anything but sleeping and making love. Ong-nyeo can’t stand it anymore, so she forces him to do some work like gathering firewood and Byeon Gangsoe then pulls out a totem pole from the village entrance to use as firewood.

All the totem poles in the country become enraged at Byeon Gangsoe and decide to give him all the illnesses of the world to make him suffer and die. Ong-nyeo makes every effort to save Byeon Gangsoe who is transformed into a totem pole. Greatly disappointed, Ong-nyeo makes up her mind to follow the advice of her mother who told her in a dream to wage a war against the totem poles. Ong-nyeo, whose husbands and lovers have all died, decides to use this bad luck as a weapon; she attracts all the totem poles in the country and makes fire with her burning passion to kill them. As Ong-nyeo is about to kill all the totem poles, the oldest totem pole asks Byeon Gangsoe to do something to stop her. Byeon Gangsoe and Ong-nyeo meet each other again. Ong-nyeo wants to become a totem pole with him but she can’t. She then comes up with a great idea to be with Byeon Gangsoe forever, and turns around in high spirits.

To reserve your place for this screening please email [email protected] or telephone 0207 004 2600

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