All actors and staff are foreigners… Salads are delicious when mixed

Park Kyong Ju, CEO of the troupe ‘Salad’

“Repeated racism in Korea… Let’s hope for an equally respected society”

Kim Youngjun (Chosun Ilbo Newspaper Reporter)

Ⓒ Chosun Ilbo Newspaper

“I was shocked to see Koreans doing the same to Asians as the racism I experienced while studying in Germany.”

There is a troupe of foreigners who came to Korea for different reasons. Except for the representative Park Kyong Ju (51) of the theater company ‘Salad’, all the actors and staff are foreigners. Park explained the meaning of the name of the troupe, “It means that people with various cultures can harmonize, like a salad in which various vegetables maintain their original taste and harmonize.”

It was in 2009 that Ms. Park, who was active as a fine artist, started the theater company. She said her experiences while studying in Germany made her interested in multicultural family issues. She majored in experimental film in Germany, but was discriminated against by a university lecturer who said, “Don’t mess with the program because you couldn’t learn this in your country.” She also came as a shock to a neo-Nazi rally.

Even more, what surprised her was that the same discrimination was occurring in Korean society as well. Ms. Park said, “The reality in Korea is that people from Southeast Asia are portrayed as pitiful people on TV, and their human rights and labor rights are not respected at work.“

Park started the troupe to create a social atmosphere where diverse cultures are respected as equals. At first, she recruited multicultural migrants who had never experienced performing arts. It took nearly four years for the troupe to establish itself as the actor who could not participate due to the mother-in-law’s objections continuously occurring.

Performances by the troupe ‘Salad’ mainly deal with what children of multicultural families go through at school. It is about a child who suffered discrimination or was unable to adapt to school life, and resolves conflicts by learning the musical instrument of an immigrant mother’s country with her friends. CEO Park said, “It has the effect of naturally introducing the culture and arts of various countries to Korean audiences.”

Artist Park is also preparing performances based on true stories such as marriage migrant women, Korean residents in Japan, and North Korean defectors. “I hope our theater company’s small efforts contribute to creating an open society where diverse cultures are respected.”  (Ⓒ Chosun Ilbo Newspaper, 2019)

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