From the publisher’s website:
This selection of plays offers an overview of Lee Gun-sam’s attempts to portray the socially-underprivileged people’s ‘heroic’ struggle to assert their human dignity in a society swarming with time-serving snobs and hypocrites. Lee Gun-sam’s heartstring was always attached to those who remain honest to themselves and fight for their moral principles. His favorite characters, without exception, are those who adhere to the values they cherish, living in a world that asks for compromise and self-suppression for survival. The protagonists in his plays are neither ‘tragic’ nor ‘comic’: they traverse the borderline between the two realms, stereotyped by dramatic convention. Each of them looms as an everyman-figure: he or she can be any of us. As the main character in The Last Performance of an Old Actor bids farewell to his audience, we realize that his real grand ‘performance’ was not on the man-made stage that he has lived for, but on the stage of life, as all of us must.
About the playwright:
Lee Gun-sam was born in 1929 at Pyong-yang, now in North Korea. His career as a playwright started as early as 1958, when the plays he wrote in English while doing graduate studies in North Carolina were put on the stage there. He taught at Dong-guk University, Joong-ang University, and Sogang University, while actively engaged in playwriting, and wrote almost sixty plays in Korean before his demise in 2003. Lee Gun-sam opened a new horizon for Korean dramatists by introducing diverse dramaturgy to the Korean stage.
About the translator:
Sidney Soo-young Lee was a prize-winner three times (1999, 2000, and 2001) in the Modern Korean Literature English Translation Awards given by The Korea Times. His English translation of Lee Gun-sam’s play, A Grand Retreat, was chosen in the 2002 Daesan Foundation’s translation contest to be published abroad under its auspices, along with his English translation of four other plays by the same playwright. He teaches English in Korea.