전주문화재단 [PlayWriter] Park Dong Hwa | PORTRAIT
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[PlayWriter] Park Dong Hwa
  • 2015-04-14 09:59
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A Forever Writing Worker, Playwriter ‘Park Dong Hwa’

Choi Gui Woo(Playwriter‧adjunct professor of Jeon-ju University )

edition and translation: Jeonju Cultural Foundation

Playwriter and theater director Park Dong Hwa(real name Park Deok Sang‧1911-1978) made the clearest mark on the history of Jeonbuk modern play. Nevertheless, his name was not easily found in history of Jeonbuk modern play. It is because he chose the life of playwriter and healthy writing worker finding values of Jeonbuk instead of enjoying honor and fortune in Seoul.

The Japanese Ruling Era of Korea. There was not sentimental appearance like sorrow and sympathy in his life and world of literature. He became unfortune youth who despised life in fragrant youthful days. Poor but brave decision was a writing worker’s struggle whose name could not been found easily.

He started to write taking opportunity of ‘My monologue is not over’ in 1959. He was the most important history and pride in Jeon-buk modern play.

 Dreams Poet

He was born to farming father and mother in Yeongam-gun, Jeonnam in April 21th, 1911. His mother died from a disease when he was three years old and he was raised by a stepmother. She was said to treat former wife’s children coldly. It was why a sense of closeness between him and his elder sister was special. When she married, he clung to the end of a palanquin. He sought comfort in her.

He moved to Mokpo when he was 10-year-old. And he graduated from Mokpo Young-heung school and entered middle school. But he was removed from school as he joined Gwang-ju Student Independence Movement. He moved to Seoul and was in Joongang Buddhism College(old name of Dong-guk university) and gave up his studies for poverty.

He was a would-be poet. However, he was frustrated when he received negative reviews in a newspaper.

 Meets a Play

However, he already interacted with many theatrical people like Seo Hang Seok and Lee Gwang Rae, experienced the stage for play, and joined a theatrical reform movement.

At that time, the theatrical world had a difficulty for both lack of theaters, original plays, and actors and external pressure of Japan’s censorship. And then, it founded play a new drama group with students studying abroad as the center and worked hard.

He went Tokyo Japan for the prosecution of drama study. He joined the Japan Amateur play group, and built his career on playwriting and dramaturgy. He came back soon and joined . And he appeared in on a stage of Bumingwan in October 24-25th for the first time. At that time, he first used his nickname, ‘Park Dong Hwa’ instead of real name.

He went to Mok-po because of his parents’ earnest request of coming back in 1937. He worked in a magazine company which published the only Hangeul magazine, 『Honam Critique』in the country. He used to publish poets, novels, plays, essays, and reviews in『Honam Critique』. As releasing the first play, 「After flood damage」, he used his nickname contrary to his publication of novels and essays in 1937.

 Honam Critique and ‘Patriot,’ Park Dong Hwa

It is difficult to officially announce ‘He is a fighter for independence and patriot’ as there are little records to prove his activities. Nevertheless these modifiers is not wrong.

It is true in a regard of expulsion for joining Gwang-ju Student Independence Movement and living in prison with his diaries and plays confiscated. So does homonym or he who drank with independence army going back and forth between Sinuju and Gando in the press when he was in Sinuju for a life of escape from the world in 1940s.

One thing that is certain is his working career in 『Honam Critique』 which suffered from a censorship of the Japanese Government General of Korea every month. He dangerously released writing every issue in the magazine. It was enough.

 The Birth of Nickname ‘Park Dong Hwa’, ‘Park Dong’, and ‘DK Sang’

Likewise current artists, many artists used nicknames in those days. It is enough to see『Honam Critique』. There were unusually many anonymous writings because there might be an notice to contribute anonymously in the magazine. Perhaps it was because of prevention from exposure to Japanese censorship. ‘DK Sang’ was surmisable as one of ‘Park Dong Hwa’s pen name. It was because of his trace using a name of Park Deok Sang and ‘DK Sang’ together in novels.

A name of ‘Park Dong Hwa’ is stage name of Park Deok Sang. No one really knows why he used ‘Park Dong Hwa’ as stage name. The peculiar thing is that he used a nickname of Park Dong Hwa only when he appeared on the stage for play and published plays.

His trace using stage name of ‘Park Dong’ could be also found in writing of an actor of Kang No Seok, a member of an organization .

 Stop Plays in Era of National Dramas

Recalling 1940s called as ‘Era of National Dramas’ as ‘the Dark Ages of dramas’ was because of loss of freedom to create and perform plays for a close inspection of Japanese and government-control. Most actors did pro-Japanese plays and was forced to do plays using the Japanese language. But, in terms of few cases of cancellation and imprisonment, we can know that theatrical artist was active to pro-Japanese. When turncoats and cowards themselves were behind darkness, he went against history in an imposing manner.

He came back Seoul and continued to perform plays in 1938. In spring 1942, He was misunderstood as the left and imprisoned for his problematic play. It would be due to join Gwang-ju Students Independence Movement and have a career of writing in 『Honam Critique』. His diaries and literatures were impounded by the Japanese police and harsh torture and suppression made him quiver with anger. This feeling was found in his diaries at senescence.

He went to Sinuju with Kim So Seon, after getting out of prison. She followed him who was 13 years senior to her while her family opposed him. And then she assisted her husband like a shadow for her lifetime. He became a journalist of Apkkangilbo there while she was an elementary school teacher.

 Publication and Discontinuance of New Literature, and Bitter Grief of the Korean War

On the other hand Korea regained independence after living for 3 years in Sinuju, Apkkangilbo ceased publication due to a merger among newspapers. Soon, he moved to Seoul and founded a theater troupe. But, he did not work on positive lines in an ideological conflict and hard economic times.

He was related with Jeonbuk by taking a branch manager on the advice of the managing editor of Kyeong-hyang Magazine in 1947.

The Korean War was another great wound. He was captured by the North Korean People’s Army and imprisoned in Gun-san prison for 3 months. And he faced with the crisis of the death penalty. While he saved his life by a guard’s favor who was familiar with him, he had to bring in reality of death of his elder brother, sister-in-law, nephew and third son. Some day he wrote ‘whenever I passed by Gun-san, I remembered the memory of unforgettable third son’ in his diary.

Coming up to Seoul with remaining family, he retired into Mokpo and worked as a managing editor of Mokpoilbo. His life looked like a passionate piece of a drama.

 A Life as a Notable Play Writer in Jeon-ju

He started new life in Jeon-ju with working as a managing editor of Jeonbuk National University newspaper in 1956. Middle-aged head of household started to dream of drama again.

His drama of 「My monologue is not over」 had won the annual spring literary contest of Seoul Newspaper in 1957 but the contest itself cancelled for circumstances of the newspaper. After 2 years, he entered a contest of the National Theater in 1959. While its deadline went past 2 days more, his work won a prize.

This work was performed by the National Drama Company of Korea in that year. In those days, there was rigorous evaluation of the political world as it was the play sharply reporting political‧social problem. On the other hand, the audience’s response was explosive and it rose a great resonance.

 Foundation of Drama Academy of Jeonbuk National University and the Group of Original Play

He wrote many works of art with setting up a society of drama of Jeon-ju and Jeonbuk with Drama Academy of Jeonbuk National University and the Group of Original Play as the center. He made a relation with dramas of Jeonbuk in 1960s. In those days, Drama Academy of Jeonbuk National University took a central place in Jeonbuk society of drama.

There were much withdrawal from the Drama Academy due to central members and military problem in 1964. Even existence of it was in danger. His winning move was to participate in National Drama Competition through his play 「Two Inns」. 「Two Inns」 won first place in field of play of new art which Artistic and Culture Organization conducted. He could pay for entry fee of National Drama Competition with prize money.

He also decided to set up a new foundation in the theatrical world and made a professional private troupe . Founding members was mostly university graduates from Drama Academy of Jeonbuk National University. The winning move was accurate. won the grand prize in the competition in 1964. Group of Original Play made a meteoric rise quickly.

He was willing to play three roles of group representative, playwriter, and director. Group of Original Play made active activity, marking record of 42 times in his living years. He is receiving credit for a ridgepole of Jeonbuk play.

The existence of Him is like a treasure in the history of Jeonbuk play as he is in beginning and center of this region’s play. His name was not except in 20 plays which showed under the name of Drama Academy of Jeonbuk National University and the Group of Original Play in 1960s. There were 「Trailing Note」(1962), 「Two Inns」(1964), 「Our Back」(1967), 「Brave Condemned Criminal」(1969), and 「Stone of the Dead」(1970) starting「My Monologue is not over」(1961).

 Remembered as ‘Father of Jeonbuk play’

In the 1970s, he had to finish works through oral statement as his hand tremor got worse. However he left behind many works.

He made field of Jeonbuk play invigorated in 1970s. Especially, 1973 was special year to both him and Jeonbuk actors as artists had supported production costs holding exhibitions for a play celebrating his 60th birthday. 「Mountains and Streams」(Park Dong Hwa Writing and Directing) showed for 3 days, and the number of audiences were maximum.

He was also famous for his strange behaviors in the 1960s and 1970s. These started with the passion for plays. He had said ‘the level of Jeonbuk play was more famous in Seoul rather than Jeonbuk’ and rushed into rotary press to sprinkle sands. He also had said ‘if we were too hungry, we could not make voice’ and took members over to a mourner’s house, made them sing songs, and filled their stomach. These stories already became legendary.

Up until the 1970s, he only lived for plays for 20 years over. He had affection for raising actors and defined the character of regional field of play with original play as the center. So there are exceptionally many Jeonbuk plays while playwrights are lack.

On his deathbed, he asked Moon Chi Sang, a junior and disciple, to cultivate juniors, saying ‘I was happy because I had been lived and died on a stage’.

 His World of Art Works in 1960s and 1970s

His criticism of social phenomenon is extensive from politics to education. 「Trailing Note」indirectly evaluates April 19 revolution based on ‘Lee Ki Poong’ who exerted his authority in the Liberal Party. 「There is a Reason」is a one-act play which catches mental conflict of wandering youth based on real case of fire incident in Jeon-ju High school. Also, he shows a travesty of decadent people, growing rich and communicating with influential people through 「Boss Mr. Gong(孔)」.

On the contrary, he also turned his criticism toward himself. Chaos of self disunion in「Loss」is a conflict between his ideal and reality. In「Living Practice」, seven patients in mental hospital speak out freely in dialogues, monologues, and stage whispers. Their words are the very his words.

His view of life and art is shown clearer in . Lee Sang Soo’s strong tenacity and pride for small gong in it is another expression of his passion for plays. His last work 「Lamplight」is much deeper in that sense as he leaves a will to juniors of future of Jeonbuk play through Hwang Tae Il’s mouth.

Turning Lee Sang Soo in and Hwang Tae Il in「Lamplight」into him, their lines one by one is the very voice of him.

 Commemorate Play, and

Jeonbuk branch of the National Theater Association of Korea Inc. planned and made original plays to commemorate 28th and 29th anniversary of his death. Both (2006) and (2007) well portray the his life and world of art for plays. We can see the history of Korean play as well as the life and inner world of him through The Japanese Ruling Era of Korea and the Korean War. Also it helps us look at the history of Jeonbuk play from 1950s to 1970s.

ranged over 1930-1950s, when he established an ideological maturity. It was because his basis on social satire was made in those days. Meanwhile, was story about 1960-70s. Both are his voice sounding the alarm to artists of the day.

 Profile of Park Dong Hwa

1911 Birth in Yeongam, Jeollanam-do

1936 Joining the Japan Amateur play group, . Taking lesson on playwriting and dramaturgy

1940-1941 Founding with Lee Kwang Rae

1942 Arrested and tortured by Japan police. Stopping creative activity

1945 Founding and reactivating play activity. Publicating pure literary magazine,

1950 Getting caught by the Communist Party during the Korean War. Dramatically escaping after sentence to death

1959 Winning a prize in the play contest in National Theater of Korea by

1962 Writing the play

The chief founder of the Jeonbuk branch of Association of Jeonbuk Art & Culture Society

1964 Winning ‘The New Art Award’ and ‘The Grand Prize’ in the National Conference through . Wining Jeonllabuk-do Culture Pride

1973 Writing

1975 Writing

1978 Collapsing during watching performance

Pass away. Held in The 1st Jeonbuk Cultural Artist Funeral


1999 Building his bust sculpture in Jeonju Cheryeon Park

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