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Korean performers at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe

I make it that there are eleven Korean or Korea-related performances at this year’s Fringe, plus one workshop. It’s nice that Brush Theatre are putting in their regular appearance – always popular with the younger audience – and we have newcomers such as Korean-American stand-up comedian Olivia Rhee and, from Kazakhstan, telling the story of Stalin’s ethnic Korean “Unreliable People” we have Anatoliy Ogay and Tatyana Kim.

We have music from the Gwangju Metropolitan Korean Traditional Orchestra and from Gena Tango; EDP Soonchunhyang University brings us two Shakespeare adaptations; Theatre Hooam brings us their hard-hitting drama Black and White Tea Room – Counsellor (I hope I shall get to see it in full this year: the cut down version in last year’s London showcase was gripping), while new to the Fringe (as far as I am aware) are Theatre Group The Stranger, YVUA ARTS and Youngsan University.

You can catch YVUA ARTS, Theatre Group The Stranger, Theatre Hooam and Gena Tango in London at the end of this month.

Here, in no particular order, are the acts:

The Little Musician

Little MusicianGroup: Brush Theatre LLC | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd
Children’s Shows (theatre, family) | Suitability: 3+ (3 and older)
Assembly Roxy – Central (Venue 139) | 12:15 Aug 2-12, 14-19, 21-26 | 55 minutes | Book tickets

‘I will return sunshine to the dark cold world!’ In a world full of darkness, the warmth and light of the sun has gone missing. One girl, armed only with a flute, sets out on a brave adventure to find the lost sunshine. Join The Little Musician on her journey and help her to save the world from freezing! Combining live sound effects and inventive scenery, this beautiful and imaginative show reminds us of the real meaning of sunshine and relationships. A joyful, interactive show suitable for all the family.

Adventures of the Singing Acupuncturist 6: Big O Makes It in New York… or, Does She? – Free

Group: Olivia Rhee | Diamond Wave Productions | Free Festival | Website
Comedy (storytelling, solo show) | Suitability: 18+
Laughing Horse @ Espionage – The Bunker (Venue 185) | Midnight | Aug 15-26 | 1 hour | Book tickets
Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix – Phoenix Below (Venue 146) | 21:00 | Aug 14-26 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Do you not fit into a box? Olivia Rhee (Big O) knows all too well about not fitting in: when kimchi, AKA fire-breathing garlic dragon breath, is your culture’s most famous export, how are you ever going to lead a normal life in the land of burgers, French fries, and ketchup? But as an acupuncturist, who fixes people for a living, why can’t she fix herself? In this hilarious comedy hour, Big O entertains with her Korean-American observations. You’ll leave with bigger eyes.

Just One Wise Life

Just One Wise LifeGroup: Theatre Group The Stranger
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus | Suitability: 8+
C venues – C – +3 (Venue 34) | 14:35 | Aug 19-27 | 1 hour | Book tickets

To be well or not to be well, that is the question. Everyone will always have one question in their hearts: whether they are living well. Physical theatre exploring the many peoples of Korea. A story of lecturers, mothers, part-timers, artists and heroes. Just One Wise Life begins with refusing the accepted definition of ethics. It questions the logic of contemporary ethics shared by society. It examines the ethics of new generations. The company have travelled to Edinburgh overland from Korea on their bus, performing as they go. Audience reviews from ‘Unique!’ ‘Fun, bitter-sweet, fantastic!’

Gwangju Metropolitan Korean Traditional Orchestra

Gwangju Metropolitan Korean Traditional OrchestraGroup: Gwangju Metropolitan Korean Traditional Orchestra
Music (traditional, world music) | Suitability: 8+
St Giles’ Cathedral (Venue 187) | 12:15 | Aug 16 | 45 minutes | Book tickets

An orchestra like you have never seen before! The 45-piece orchestra from Gwangju, a city known for its rich cultural heritage, performs the ancient melodies of Korea with traditional instrumentation such as ajaeng, gayageum, haegeum and piri. These fine musical talents from Korea revive their legacy with both authenticity and creativity. Don’t miss out on this unique collaboration with the most accomplished of vocalists.

Sweet Tango

Gena TangoGroup: Gena Tango | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd
Music (world music, traditional) | Suitability: 5+
Assembly Checkpoint (Venue 322) | 14:00 | Aug 2-13, 15-20, 22-26 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Tango-Korean music band, Gena Tango, presents a new look at tango through Korean eyes in a joyful musical experience that combines the urgent passion of Argentinian tango with traditional Korean instruments and music. The result is a fascinating fusion of Korean and Latin-American influences, creating an entirely new music genre that is both familiar and unfamiliar – bringing the variety of tone of the Korean music to the intoxicating rhythms of the tango. Gena Tango’s unique sound has seen them winning many awards and receiving critical acclaim. A celebration of world music at its very best.

About Lady White Fox With Nine Tales…

Lady White FoxGroup: YVUA ARTS | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd | Facebook
Theatre (international, physical theatre) | Suitability: 12+
Assembly George Square Studios – Three (Venue 17) | 13:00 | Aug 2-13, 15-20, 22-27 | 1 hour | Book tickets

What if Lady Macbeth was the reincarnation of the mysterious White Fox? YVUA Arts present their award-winning About Lady White Fox with the Nine Tales… Excellent Domestic Performing Arts Production by Korean Cultural and Arts Centres Association, 2017. A powerful retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth based on the mysterious and exotic White Fox legend of the Orient. Stunning imagery, live painting and physical movement with Korean traditional instruments and music combine in a spellbinding and provocative reinterpretation of this classic story, examining the essential duplicity of human nature and the agony of endless desire.

Black and White Tea Room – Counsellor

Group: Theatre Hooam | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd
Theatre (drama, international) | Suitability: 12+
Assembly Rooms – The Blue Room (Venue 20) | 12:10 | Aug 2-25 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Theatre Hooam makes a welcome return to the Fringe with the award-winning Black and White Tea Room. Jeong-Heong-So offers counselling in the tearoom, but takes one day off every year: the anniversary of his wife’s death. A strange new client insists on being seen – but it soon becomes clear that the two have had a previous, far from positive encounter and an intense and bruising psychological battle ensues. Awards include: Best Actor and a Special Award at the Tokyo Tiny-Alice Festival. ‘Fantastic’ (

Faust Korea

Faust KoreaGroup: Youngsan University
Theatre (classical) | Suitability: 18+
ZOO Charteris – Sanctuary (Venue
124) | 12:50 | Aug 3-8 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Goethe’s Faust dealing with human agony and the way of salvation, is frequently read in Asia, especially in Korea. What kind of person is Faust in Korea today? What kind of person is Mephisto in Korea today? What kind of person is Grechen in Korea today? What is the ultimate appearance of an anguish or wandering human being in Korea today? What is the salvation of Koreans today? In the context of today’s Korean society where Western and Korean gods’ points of view are mixed, these questions lead us to a performance called Faust Korea.

The Merry Wives of Seoul

Merry WivesGroup: EDP Soonchunhyang University
Theatre (physical theatre, comedy) | Suitability: 8+
C venues – C south – main theatre (Venue
58) | 12:15 | Aug 12-18 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Koreanised adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic. Falstaff, a fat and debauched knight, tries to tempt two married women in Seoul and steal their wealth. But these two clever women see through his plan and set out to deceive him. A story that proves that women are more than the traditional helpers of men, but agents in their own right who outwit the plans society makes for them, and are ready to reform current traditions. EDP Soonchunhyang University return to Edinburgh with this brand new uniquely Korean physical comedy take on Shakspeare’s timeless tale.

The Taming of the Shrew

Taming of the ShrewGroup: EDP Soonchunhyang University
Theatre (comedy, drama) | Suitability: 8+
C venues – C south – main theatre (Venue
58) | 11:00 | Aug 12-18 | 1 hour | Book tickets

Stunningly original Korean update of the classic play returns to Edinburgh. Confucius meets Shakespeare with a dash of hip hop thrown in for good measure. Petruchio, a patriarch of the Confucian dynasty, tries to tame hip hop Kate into an obedient woman, but who will win in the end? This critically acclaimed worldwide tour returns to Edinburgh. Can there ever be harmony between Confucian patriarchalism and feminism? Between West and East? Traditional meets modern as beautiful Korean costumes and instruments fuse with hip hop dance and Western music. ‘A sure-fire winner’ (


OTOSOTRGroup: Anatoliy Ogay and Tatyana Kim (Kazakhstan) | Website
Theatre (musical theatre, historical) | Suitability: 8+
Underbelly, Cowgate – White Belly (Venue 61) | 18:40 | Aug 2-12, 14-26 | 1 hour | Book Tickets

A story of one of the 200,000 Koreans who were deported from the Russian-Korean boarder by the Soviet government in 1937. It is an exploration of the life of a Soviet soldier of Korean descent Anatoliy Ogay. This is a journey of a WWII hero who fought Nazis in Berlin in 1945, survived the communist regime in 1991 and preserved his Korean identity throughout his life. This powerful, extraordinary story that is told by his grandson traces his grandfather’s life journey through a witty text, multimedia storytelling and contemporary music.

Bilingual Korea / UK Producers Workshop

Fringe CentralGroup: ChrisGrady.Org | Website
Events (talk, workshop) | Suitability: 12+
Fringe Central – Workshop Room (Venue
2) | 17:30 | Aug 11 | 2 hours | Book tickets

Part of the Fringe Central Events Programme for Fringe participants. We invite Korean and UK producers and theatre makers present in Edinburgh to discuss collaborations which are possible across our languages, cultures and nations – to meet new producers, new writers, new companies and new ideas. What are we doing already? What could we offer each other in practical ways in the short/medium term? What would make a difference to the work produced and the professionals making work? In association with Ginny Kim of Theatre Bridge International.

[Note 30 Jan 2023: this post has now been edited to remove links to pages on the web that are no longer active]

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