Performing Colonial Kitsch
This chapter looks at the production and performance of the Japanese-language theatrical adaptation of the iconic The Tale of Ch’unhyang (春香傳). This chapter details the complex process of translation and adaptation that led to the play’s performance, locating the play in the contemporary context of the exoticizing “Korea Boom” in metropolitan Japan and continuing association of this work with “traditional” Korean culture. The exoticizing commodification of the Korea Boom and the equation of national authenticity with the traditional both partake of nostalgia. The former turns upon the metropolitan desire to subsume even the precolonial past; the latter invokes a space and time outside of colonial modernity itself. Tracing the movement of The Tale of Ch’unhyang via the translation and adaptation process from national canonicity to what the book terms “colonial kitsch,” this chapter presents contrasting but overlapping metropolitan imaginings of local knowledge and colonial negotiations of these metropolitan desires.