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Revamped musical presents challenges faced by Joseon firefightersBy Hwang Joo-young
Published : July 23, 2023 - 14:46
"Myeolhwagun," a musical which initially premiered in 2021 about Joseon's first-ever fire service department during King Sejo's reign, has returned with vibrant enhancements. The original 90-minute musical has been transformed into a 135-minute piece.
The revamped musical's director Woo Jin-ha emphasized how he delved deeper into detailed depictions of how Joseon firefighters bravely fought to extinguish mass fires at a press conference held at the Uniplex Theater in Jongno-gu, central Seoul on Thursday.
"The historical records only briefly explained that 'myeolhwagun' extinguished fires using poles wrapped with wet cloths, which lacked detailed representation in the first edition. Therefore, I incorporated more imagination to enrich the storytelling," Woo said.
The inspiration for the director came from his fascination with the term "myeolhwagun," the term for firefighters during the Joseon era (1392-1910), when he discovered their presence in the "Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty," the annual records of Joseon that were kept from 1392 to 1865. This prompted him to develop the story into a creative musical piece.
"Myeolhwagun" revolves around three central characters: Jungrim, chief of the myeolhwagun; Cheonsu, a newcomer myeolhwagun who lost his older brother in a blaze; and Yeonhwa, who seeks revenge by deliberately setting fires to exterminate the noble class.
The second edition of “Myeolhwagun” incorporates diverse visual effects to vividly enhance the depiction of the fire extinguishing process for audiences.
Director Woo strategically employs beam lighting onstage to create a dynamic atmosphere. He also transforms the stage background into hanji, traditional handmade paper.
"Using hanji on the stage not only adds authenticity, but also effectively conveys the flames' vulnerability, thus enriching the story of Joseon firefighters." Woo explained.
In addition to the visual enhancements, the second edition of "Myeolhwagun" introduces nine new scores to the original setlist.
The musical runs through Sep. 10 at the Uniplex Theater. Tickets are available on Naver and Interpark.
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