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Myth-based production connects tradition with modern fantasy

The National Gugak Center presented its much-anticipated production “Man in Red and Lady Youngsan” on Tuesday.

The musical production is a gugak (traditional Korean music) fantasy drama based on a myth that originated in Hamgyong Province in North Korea.
“Man in Red and Lady Youngsan” (National Gugak Center)
“Man in Red and Lady Youngsan” (National Gugak Center)

The myth has been adapted into a modern tale. The story centers on Ji-hong, who is a biology teacher. While he is on a mountain field trip with his students, a wildfire breaks out. He loses consciousness trying to save wild animals from the raging fire.

When Ji-hong wakes up, he is in a mysterious world that holds every secret of nature. The gatekeeper tells him he can return home if he gets past the Doors of Four Seasons. Meanwhile, Ji-hong’s wife, Young-san, embarks on a journey to the other world to find her lost husband.

The story stresses the importance of harmony between man and nature. Two actors have been cast in each of the lead roles, Ji-hong and Young-san, with one pair singing and the other dancing.

Four art troupes under the National Gugak Center joined hands to put on this production: the Court Music Orchestra, the Dance Theater, the Folk Music Group and the Contemporary Gugak Orchestra.

“Man in Red and Lady Youngsan” runs until Saturday at the National Gugak Center’s Yeak-dang.

Tickets are priced at 30,000 to 50,000 won and are available through Interpark Ticket at or the center’s website at

By Im Eun-byel (