1st Edition

Modernization of Korean Theatre in the 20th Century

By Meewon Lee Copyright 2025
    264 Pages 62 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Lee provides a comprehensive guide that traces the transformation of Korean theatre from traditional to modern theatre and examines the impact of the introduction of Western plays to Korean society.

    Important changes in Korean theatre are discussed chronologically from the beginning of the modernization: Sinpa Theatre, Singeuk Theatre, Theatre of Ideology, The Little Theatre Movement, Madanggeuk, experiments for modernizing traditional Korean theatrical arts, and transitions to postmodern theatre. These changes happened rapidly and coupled with Eurocentric globalization. By the end of the century, the reinterpretations of Western drama like Shakespeare's plays had reached a point where they received attention from the Western world. Today, Korean theatre keeps pace with the world theatre and strives to contribute as a member of it.

    A vital resource for scholars and students pursuing Korean studies and East Asian theatres. with an authentic Korean perspective from a Korean scholar who has lived and researched in Korea.

    Introduction: What is Modernization in Korea?: Historical Background. 1. The Beginning of Modern Theatre and Cultural Resistance 2. Sinpa Theatre: Transitional Melodrama from Westernized Japan and Its  Influences on Commercial Theatre 3. Singeuk Theatre: Western Realism Theatre and Social Realism Theatre 4. The Liberation of Korea and the Korean War Period: Theatre of Ideology 5. The Little Theatre Movement 6. The Beginning of Experiments and Innovations for Modernizing Theatrical Traditions 7. Madanggeuk: Contemporary SociopoliticalTheatre with the Traditions from Korean Heritage 8. Toward the Postmodern Theatre


    Meewon Lee is Professor Emerita of Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, Korea. Her publications include Korean Traditions and Performances in the Postmodern Era. She is focused on esthetics of Korean theatre, related to its traditions and world theatre.