Helped by the insights and efforts of Dongnang, Chi-Jin Yoo, the drama center opened in April, 1962. Everyone in the theater industry had great hopes for its success. There was an opening performance at which many of the best actors and actresses of the day gathered. In addition, troupes such as the Drama Center and Dongnang Repertory Company themselves planned close to 100 performances and many significant productions were held. The Drama Center opened a theater library, a theater academy and a theater school. It also provided an opportunity for teenagers to both enrich their emotional range and determine their future careers by holding a theater competition for children and middle and high school students. The event has since celebrated its 20th anniversary and expanded into Dongnang Youth Arts Festival. Additionally, efforts have been made to nurture playwrights through a playwriting workshop in the theater academy. This has been a steppingstone for young playwrights over the last 13 years, staging 40 plays of the Shin-Chun Literary Prize Winners, using excellent directors and actors and actresses for this celebration. Looking back at the difficult times of the 1960s, without Dongnang’s insights, it would have been difficult to achieve the number of dramas and entertainment programs by growing number of television broadcasting companies that we see today, nor the activities related to performances which are driven by economic development and the growth in national power.
It was when I was a university student in 1926 that I began to think that Korea needed a research institution for theater like the Drama Center. If we were to restore true and meaningful theater in this land – at a time when our people’s legacy was exhausted and our tradition interrupted – we would need a research institution that would allow us to carry out fundamental thorough study. The theater research commission that I eagerly set up with my colleagues in 1931 after graduating from university was the first step in this dream.
[. . .]During the Korean War, we lost what could be called the three elements of Korean theater – the theaters, the actors, and the audiences – and after 1956, the growth of the movie industry brought Korean theater to its knees. That was when I resolved to realize my dream. After four years preparing the financing, acquiring the land and finalizing the architectural design of the Center, we had our groundbreaking ceremony in October 1960 at the Namsan site where the Drama Center stands today. It then took six years to build the other facilities, including a small theater, a drama school, and a drama library. So if we include the four years of preparation, the Drama Center took a total of 10 years to complete.
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- AFTER ALL CONSTRUCTION ON
THE DRAMA CENTER WAS COMPLETED -
DIRECTOR CHI-JIN YOO IN NOVEMBER 1966