Pumba Performance April 29 at Kennedy Theatre

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The Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies is pleased to join with the Asia Forum in pre­sent­ing one per­for­mance of the The­atre Gagaŭi­hoe pro­duc­tion of Pum­ba April 29, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. in Kennedy The­atre on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Mānoa cam­pus.

This is the thir­ty-fifth anniver­sary year of the play Pum­ba, which was writ­ten and first pre­sent­ed in 1981 by Si-ra Kim (1945–2001), an activist, poet, and play­wright. Kim staged more than four thou­sand per­for­mances in his life­time. Since his death, his wife, Jung-jae Park, has led the per­for­mance group.

Pum­ba comes from a word repeat­ed in cer­tain songs of street singers and beg­gars from the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. It is an ono­matopoe­ic word for pass­ing gas. Beg­gars would knock on the doors of rich peo­ple and sing and dance until they were giv­en food. If they got no food, they would chant “pum­ba, pum­ba” and yell that the rich per­son deserved to “eat their farts.”

In syn­op­sis, the play’s cen­tral char­ac­ter is Gak­sul, who claims to be an angel from heav­en. He falls asleep starv­ing from the world’s indif­fer­ence and inhos­pi­tal­i­ty. He dreams of knock­ing on a rich person’s door and ask­ing for food. Because of Gaksul’s vol­u­bil­i­ty and skilled per­for­mance of a Kore­an bal­lad, the rich per­son offers him food, and Gak­sul eats. He wakes up, how­ev­er, and real­izes that it was only a dream. Despon­dent, he miss­es his wife Soo­je­by. He rec­ol­lects the time of the Japan­ese occu­pa­tion. He was jailed for fight­ing the Japan­ese but escaped and went to Angel’s Vil­lage. After lib­er­a­tion from Japan, he hears a con­fes­sion of love from a vil­lage girl, Soo­je­by. They get mar­ried, but after a short peri­od of hap­pi­ness, he los­es his wife dur­ing the Kore­an war. His sad­ness and anger go to the extreme. The time returns to the present, and he miss­es Soojeby’s noble love, which was like sal­va­tion for him. He real­izes that life is about giv­ing every­thing we have. He leaves as heaven’s mes­sage brings down the cur­tain end­ing the play.

The co-spon­sor­ing orga­ni­za­tion, the Asia Forum, is a non­prof­it pri­vate non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion in Korea. Its mem­bers include many Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i and East-West Cen­ter grad­u­ates.

Admis­sion to this sin­gle per­for­mance of Pum­ba is free, but space in the the­ater is lim­it­ed. Tele­phone the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies at (808) 956‑7041 for fur­ther infor­ma­tion.

Pumba performers