In recent years, many plays for adults have been running in Daehak-ro. For example, ‘Professor and woman disciple season 2,’ ‘Argument,’ ‘I love sexual lady’ and so on. These plays have attracted thousands of people. Therefore, plays for adults have stirred up many controversies. Some insist that adult plays are only commercial endeavors rather than art. However others refute by saying that adult plays create genre diversity and are a new trend in Daehak-ro.
This is not the first time such a controversy has arisen. In 1994, a play called ‘Miranda’ was performed in Daehak-ro. Miranda was an adaption of British writer John Fowles’s novel ‘Collector.’ In Miranda, the actress was naked for about ten minutes. As a result, Seoul High Court passed down a judgement: “Miranda does not need to express a scene with an actress’ naked body. And from the view of a normal audience, the actress’ nude scenes were sexually humiliating and obscene. It also went beyond mere freedom of expression.” The producer of Miranda was convicted of performance obscenity. And it was the first time that the performing arts were found guilty of such a thing. Since that decision, there have been many plays that appear to be walking the fine line between art and pornography in Daehak-ro. And now I will introduce to you one of these controversial plays, ‘Professor and woman disciple season 2.’
This play is based on Yonsei University Korean Literature Professor Ma Gwang-soo’s real life story. The basic plot of this play is very unusual. In this play, there are three main characters; the professor, the professor’s wife, and a woman disciple. The professor is about forty and impotent. He cannot make love with his wife. His wife tries to help him with his problem, but it is not easy. Therefore the professor tries to solve his sexual problem with his woman disciple. And through attempting to solve his problem, there are some fetish situations. The actress also shows her naked body during the play. Because of the nudity, some women organizations argued that “This play shows a woman’s naked body frankly, and commercializes the female body. Also it made out the woman to be like a sex toy. It is very harmful to all people.” For these reasons, the women organizations boycotted the play. On the other hand, the play’s producer refuted these opinions: “So far, in our society, people tend to talk about sex secretly. By comparison, our society has contradictory policies whereby even teenagers can have access to pornography easily. So through the play, we want to criticize the secret sex culture and we want society to start talking more freely about sex.”
I also think this play tried to include various societal problems and they tried to be frank when tackling the issue of male sex problems. However, I agree that the actress’ nude body was only being used as a method to advertise this play. So I think this adult play is merely pornography. Moreover, the play’s running time is only about one hour which is impossible to show good story. These things bothered me a lot.
Of course, all adult plays should not instantly be regarded as pornography. Specifically, ‘Argument’ is one of the best plays regarding that it is artistic and has a wonderful story line despite the actor and actress having nude scenes. ‘Argument’ is based on French novelist Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux’s novel ‘La Dispute’, and it tackles the basic question about love. It has received good reviews from audiences and critics.
A closed cultural atmosphere and commercial views about sex has created a mind-boggling adult play phenomenon. And we can find similar examples easily. At first, when the movie ‘Lust, Caution’ opened, they promoted their movie as a patriotic movie and it was called the Chinese version of ‘Mata Hari.’ However, in fact, ‘Lust, Caution’ was only a movie full of sex scenes. People were very ashamed to talk about watching it. So the movie producer and distributor and even some audience members justified it as patriotic movie and claimed that the sex scenes were necessary to connect the movie’s story line. But actually, they were not. And these dirty promotion methods are equally applied for ‘Professor and woman disciple season 2.’ Our closed cultural atmosphere about sex create a curiosity about adult plays and people want to watch these plays and justify the plays by claiming that the flashy scenes are necessary in the story line. It is these points have created a phenomenon about crazing adults play in Daehak-ro until these days.