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Establishment and Activities of Hangukyeonyejusikhoesain the 1950s

You Inkyung 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study analyzes the structural dynamics of the theater industry in the mid-to-late 1950s and its subsequent decline by reconstructing the Hangukyeonyejusikhoesa's founding principle and its Akgeuk(Musical Drama)-oriented performances. With dwindling demand for Akgeuk and growing competition within the performing arts sector, managers of Akgeuk troupes sought means of survival, i.e. focusing on larger productions and expanding into related entertainment industries. A handful of Akgeuk managers came together to establish the Hangukyeonyejusikhoesa in August of 1955. Hangukyeonyejusikhoesa grew into an entertainment and production company whose primary goal was to create and distribute performances and films to comfort and entertain the general masses. At the pinnacle of the company was Lim Hwasu, whose power, augmented by his close relations with the Rhee Syngman government, permeated the entertainment and film industries. Hangukyeonyejusikhoesa sought to lay the groundwork for expansion of Akgeuk by recruiting the creative staffs from existing troupes and integrating them into professional and systematic production scheme. 'Hangukyeonye' strived for an integrated corporate system where Akgeuk, Gukgeuk, plays and films can be both produced and distributed. With 'to make Akgeuk as Akgeuk should be' as its founding principle, the company created departments for writing, planning and promotion, performance, education and publication, as well as research center for music and dance and the stage art crew to allow for year-round performances, and promoted corporatization and specialization of the art form. The massive Gageuk troupe consisting of the creative team, the cast, the dancers, the band and the production team constantly put on large performances, garnering immense popularity. 'Hangukyeonye' became a reckoning force in the performing arts industry through its Akgeuk-related endeavors, and after diverting its efforts toward film-making in 1957, earned a reputation as an esteemed film company as well. This paper will evaluate the circumstances of the theater industry in the 1950s, then examine the developmental path of Akgeuk workers and the general public to assess the decline of Akgeuk and transformation of the popular-cultural landscape. Jayu Gageukdan and Korea Gageukdan, coalitions of Akgeuk workers who sought for promotion of the art form, were short-lived and perished two years after their establishment. The Akgeuk scene met its denouement shortly after. Such decline can be attributed to external and macroscopic causes such as South Korea's small domestic market, theater practices that gave way to free loading audiences and absence of training initiatives. Post-war restoration of shooting and recording facilities lead to increased distribution of films, recordings and radio dramas, and the ensuing consumer shift may have contributed to the Akgeuk's demise as well. Proliferation of domestic films in the late 1950s further prompted the decline and fall of Akgeuk and other stage arts, as theaters nationwide refused to schedule performances to accomodate more screening time. South Korea's Akgeuk had rich potentials and diversity owing to its legacy dating back to the Japanese occupation period, but lacked policies or legislation to consolidate it. There was no dual institutional support for Akgeuk unlike domestic films, whose dual policy protected and cultivated producers while treating the films as objects of sanction. South Korean Akgeuk, whose esteem was confined to the entertainment industry, saw its dramatic musical features and expressive techniques compromised and eventually reaching likeness to a variety show as it neared its end, and failed to take the steps necessary for proper genre development.

Citation status

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