The History of Korean Western Theatre

Theatre Performance | 60min | Premiered in 2020


Celebrating the centenary of Korean theatre in 2008, Jaha Koo realized that there is actually no space for Korean theatre tradition: what is regarded as Korean theatre is largely determined by the Western canon. But why are the South Koreans so proud of this Western interpretation? And why does everyone keep referring to Shakespeare? It raises questions about tradition, self-censorship and authenticity.


In this final piece of his Hamartia trilogy, Jaha Koo resolutely focuses on the future. Meticulously, he exposes the tragic impact of the past on our lives, unveiling the small cracks in modern Confucianism - an ideology that continues to define the moral system, way of life and social relations between generations in South Korea. With a new generation of South Koreans in mind, he attempts to break with a tradition full of self-censorship and keeping up appearances. Because only when based on an authentic version of history, he can pass on a future to the next generation.


Like the performances Lolling & Rolling and Cuckoo, which respectively focused on South Korea's past and present, The History of Korean Western Theatre is an intelligent documentary theatre performance in which Jaha Koo interweaves personal stories with historical, political and sociological facts. Often themes that contain a clash of Eastern and Western culture: From cutting string of tongue to make it in the West, to the heavy personal toll of Western interference on a macroeconomic level.


concept, text, direction, music, video: Jaha Koo

performance: Jaha Koo, Seri, Toad

dramaturgy: Dries Douibi

scenography, drawing: Eunkyung Jeong

artistic advisor: Pol Heyvaert

technical: Korneel Coessens, Koen Goossens, Anne Meeussen, Philippe Digneffe

hardware hacking: Idella Craddock

research: Eunkyung Jeong, Jaha Koo

research assistance: Sang Ok Kim

interview: Jooyoung Koh, Kiran Kim, Kyungmi Lee


production: CAMPO (Gent)

co-production: Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Münchner Kammerspiele, Frascati Producties (Amsterdam), Veem House for Performance (Amsterdam), SPRING performing arts festival (Utrecht), Zürcher Theaterspektakel, Black Box teater (Oslo), International Summer Festival Kampnagel (Hamburg), Tanzquartier Wien, wpZimmer (Antwerp), Théâtre de la Bastille (Paris), Festival d’Automne à Paris


residency: Kunstencentrum BUDA (Kortrijk), wpZimmer (Antwerp), Decoratelier Jozef Wouters (Brussels), Doosan Art Center (Seoul)

support: Beursschouwburg (Brussels), Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst

MAY 08-10, MAY 13-16, 2020

MAY 19-20, 2020

JUN 05-06, 2020

AUG 27-30, 2020

AUG 27-29, 2020

SEP 02-03, 2020

SEP 23-26, SEP 28 - OCT 01, 2020

OCT 07-08, 2020

OCT 11, 2020

NOV 06-07, 2020

NOV 10-11, 2020

Kunstenfestivaldesarts  |  Brussels, BE

Spring Performing Arts Festival  |  Utrecht, NL

Münchner Kammerspiele  |  Munich, DE

Zürcher Theaterspektakel  |  Zurich, CH

International Summer Festival of Kampnagel  |  Hamburg, DE

Theater Festival Basel  |  Basel, DE

Festival d’Automne à Paris/Théâtre de la Bastille  |  Paris, FR

CAMPO Nieuwpoort  |  Gent, BE

Festival Internazionale del Teatro  |  Lugano, CH

Tanzquartier Wien  |  Vienna, AT

Spring In Autumn  |  Utrecht, NL

premiere, cancelled











tour (2020)


Theatre Performance | 60min | Premiered in 2017


A journey through the last 20 years of Korean history told by a bunch of talkative rice cookers. One day when his electric rice cooker informed him that his meal was ready, Jaha Koo experienced a deep sense of isolation. ‘Golibmuwon’ (고립무원) is an untranslatable Korean word expressing the feeling of helpless isolation that characterizes the lives of many young people in Korea today.


Twenty years ago there was a major economic crisis in South-Korea, comparable to the financial crash in the United States and Southern Europe in 2008. This crisis had a huge impact on the young generation to which South Korean artist Jaha Koo belongs. He witnessed many endemic problems including youth unemployment and socio-economic inequality. Rising suicide rates, isolation, acute social withdrawal and a fixation on personal appearance are but a few of the symptoms.


In bittersweet and humorous dialogues, Jaha and his clever rice cookers take you on a journey through the last 20 years of Korean history, combining personal experience with political events and reflections on happiness, economic crises and death.


concept, text, direction, music, video, research: Jaha Koo

performance: Hana, Duri, Seri, Jaha Koo

cuckoo hacking: Idella Craddock

scenography, media operation: Eunkyung Jeong

dramaturgy: Dries Douibi

technical: Tom Daniels, Nele Verreyken


production: Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek (Brussels)

executive producer: CAMPO (Gent)

co-production: Bâtard Festival (Brussels)


residency: CAMPO (Gent), STUK (Leuven), BUDA (Kortrijk), Noorderzon/Grand Theatre (Groningen)

support: DAS Theater (Amsterdam), YAA (Amsterdam), SFAC (Seoul), Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie

tour (2017-2020)

OCT 05-06, 2017

OCT 14-15, 2017

FEB 23-24, 2018

FEB 28 - MAR 01, 2018

MAR 13-14, 2018

JUN 13, 2018

JUN 22-24, 2018

JUN 28, 2018

JUL 25, JUL 27, 2018

AUG 03-04, 2018

AUG 11-12, 2018

AUG 15-17, 2018

AUG 23-26, 2018

SEP 26-27, 2018

SEP 29-30, 2018

OCT 04-06, 2018

OCT 18, 2018

OCT 25, 2018

NOV 04-05, 2018

NOV 21-22, 2018

JAN 30, 2019

FEB 12, 2019

FEB 21, 2019

FEB 27-28, 2019

MAR 28-30, 2019

APR 10, 2019

MAY 22, 2019

MAY 30 - JUN 02, 2019

JUL 24-25, 2019

AUG 25, 2019

SEP 02-06, 2019

SEP 10-11, 2019

SEP 13-14, 2019

SEP 26, 2019

OCT 05, 2019

OCT 12-13, 2019

OCT 25-26, 2019

NOV 02, 2019

DEC 09-13, 2019

JAN 23-26, 2020

JAN 30-31, 2020

FEB 03-05, 2020

FEB 07-08, 2020

FEB 12-14, 2020

MAR 12, 2020

MAY 31 - JUN 02, 2020

OCT 26-27, 2020

DEC 01-03, 2020

Steirischer Herbst  |  Graz, AT

MMCA  |  Seoul, KR

Beursschouwburg  |  Brussels, BE

CAMPO Victoria  |  Gent, BE

Black Box Teater  |  Oslo, NO

Latitudes Contemporaines  |  Lille, FR

Athens & Epidaurus Festival  |  Athene, GR

Belluard Bollwerk International  |  Fribourg, CH

Impulstanz  |  Vienna, AT

TAZ  |  Ostend, BE

Taipei Arts Festival  |  Taipei, TW

International Summer Festival of Kampnagel  |  Hamburg, DE

Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival  |  Groningen, NL

Forum Freies Theater  |  Düsseldorf, DE

Prague Crossroads Festival  |  Prague, CZ

Conde Duque  |  Madrid, ES

Nona  |  Mechelen, BE

KAAP  |  Brugge, BE

Politik Im Freien Theater  |  Munich, DE

Frascati  |  Amsterdam, NL

Festival Parallèle  |  Marseille, FR

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts  |  Brighton, UK

Arenbergschouwburg  |  Antwerp, BE

CAMPO Nieuwpoort  |  Gent, BE

Festival Cement  |  's-Hertogenbosch, NL

Basler Dokumentartage 19/Kaserne  |  Basel, CH

Take Me Somewhere  |  Glasgow, UK

Festival TransAmériques  |  Montreal, CA

Centrale Fies  |  Dro, IT

Mladi Levi  |  Ljubljana, SI

La Bâtie  |  Geneva, CH

Short Theatre Festival  |  Rome, IT

Dublin Fringe Festival  |  Dublin, IE

Trafó House of Contemporary Arts  |  Budapest, HU

Festival Internazionale del Teatro  |  Lugano, CH

After Europe Festival/Sophiensale  |  Berlin, DE

Oz Asia Festival  |  Adelaide, AU

Spring In Autumn  |  Utrecht, NL

Festival d’Automne à Paris  |  Paris, FR

On The Boards  |  Seattle, US

Living Things Festival  |  Kelowna, CA

PuSH Festival  |  Vancouber, CA

Progress Festival  |  Toronto, CA

Usine C  |  Montreal, CA

CC Ter Vesten  |  Beveren, BE

Ruhrfestspiele  | Recklinghausen, DE

Warwick Arts Centre  |  Coventry, UK

Théâtre de Nîmes  |  Nîmes, FR

















































Lolling and Rolling

Theatre Performance | 40min | Premiered in 2015


The rework version will be opened to the public in May, 2021.


In South Korea, there was a big controversy concerning children’s tongue surgery for better English pronunciation. The surgery is known as a lingual frenectomy. Some people thought that it is possible to have better English pronunciation through the surgery, especially for “R” which is not an existing consonant in the Korean language. Therefore some parents have forced their children to go through the tongue operation, even though the children had a normal tongue.


Lolling  and  Rolling penetrates Korean’s tragic social phenomenon related to English education. Theater maker Jaha  Koo reveals the tragedy through a fictional story, video and sound work. It contextualizes not only contemporary issues but also historical events related to colonialism and imperialism.


concept, text, direction, music, video, research, performance: Jaha Koo

dramaturgy: Dries Douibi

scenography, media operation: Eunkyung Jeong

artistic advisor: Pol Heyvaert

technical: Korneel Coessens


production: officeneinoffice (Amsterdam)

executive producer: CAMPO (Gent)

co-production: Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels)

original support: DAS Theater (Amsterdam)

AUG 13-15, 2015

DEC 04, 2015

DEC 09, 2015

JUL 29 - AUG 06, 2016

JAN 14, 2017

FEB 25, 2017

MAR 16-17, 2017

JUL 23, 2017

NOV 04, 2017

APR 22, 2018

NOV 01, 2018

Zürcher Theater Spektakel  |  Zurich, CH

Bâtard Festival/Beursschouwburg  |  Brussels, BE

Bâtard Festival/Veem House for Performance  |  Amsterdam, NL

TAZ  |  Ostend, BE

Frascati  |  Amsterdam, NL

Post-Peace/Württembergischer Kunstverein  |  Stuttgart, DE

Sick Festival  |  Manchester, UK

Post-Peace/Nest Ruimte Voor Kunst  |  Hague, NL

Spiel Art  |  Munich, DE

Kunsthal Extra City  |  Antwerp, BE

Veem House for Performance  |  Amsterdam, NL

tour (2015-2018)












© Jaha Koo.