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August 5, 2004

Childhood Memories Revived at Chunchon Puppet Festival

From: Korea Times, South Korea - Aug 5, 2004

By Yoon Ja-young
Staff Reporter

There was a time when every villager waited for a wandering puppet troupe to come. They laughed, cried and clapped their hands as the puppets on the stage reproduced diverse aspects of human life. Such scenes are rarely seen in busy city life now, but the friends of Pinocchio are still in our memory.

''Puppet Festival Chunchon 2004,'' being held at the Chunchon Puppet Theater and around Kosumdochi Islet, Kangwon Province, from today until Aug. 15, invites visitors to a reunion with old puppet friends.

Celebrated every year since 1989, the festival is famous for being one of the most successful cultural festivals in the country. This year seven popular troupes from abroad have been invited to perform with 44 local troupes and 21 amateur puppeteer groups.

With a puppet parade across downtown Chunchon announcing the opening of the parade this evening, a total of 168 performances will hit the stage during the festival.

Among the troupes to perform is the St. Petersburg Puppet Theater from Russia, which is to show Marionette Circus. The former Soviet Union and countries in Eastern Europe are renowned for their puppet troupes. The St. Petersburg Theater, founded in 1918, recreates the works of masters in world literature such as Shakespeare, Cervantes and Chekhov. In Western Europe, puppetry transformed into an art genre for children, after which its popularity decreased.

About 30 wooden marionettes are to be skillfully controlled by 13 puppeteers, displaying a variety of acrobatics.

Performances by Italian and Dutch troupes will be unique with the performers' feet and hands providing those of the puppets.

Bulgarian troupe Waggish Radish will stage ''Buratino,'' the story of a wooden puppet, which has received great acclaim from audiences around the world, including those in Egypt, Denmark, Germany, France and Australia.

Hitomi's Deaf Puppet Theater is composed of hearing-challenged actors. Their puppets will reproduce an incident revolving around an old woman and a raccoon to be done without speech. However, you are sure to understand what the cute puppets in Japanese traditional costumes are trying to say as you find yourself immersed in the story.

A Taiwanese troupe will reproduce ancient folktales from around southern China. Argentine troupe Teatro Golondrino is composed of two artists who met at the Avignon Festival.

Admission to the performance is priced from 3,000 won to 5,000 won each.

Children will learn how to produce their own puppet show, and magic and mime performances will add to the fun.

The organizing committee of the festival will run the Coco Bau Train on Aug. 14 between Seoul and Chunchon. This specially decorated train will feature Argentine marionette and mime performances during the trip. The train will leave Chongnyangni Station in Seoul at 9 a.m., and will return to Seoul at night after passengers have enjoyed the festival for the day. The fare is 25,000 won for children and 30,000 won for adults and teenagers, which also includes admission to the other performances.

Also worth visiting is the Chunchon Puppet Museum, which opens next to the theater today. The first puppet museum in the country, it introduces the origins and histories of puppet theaters around the world.

Visitors will learn how rod, hand, marionette and shadow puppets are made, as well as being able to try their hand at the art of controlling them. About 200 puppets that have starred in puppet theaters around the world have found a place of retirement there to greet visitors.

For details, visit or call (033) 242-8450.

How to Get There

The train for Chunchon leaves Chongnyangni Station, Seoul, every hour, and takes less than two hours. A free shuttle bus runs to the festival venue from Chunchon Station. Or you can go by bus from Tong Seoul Terminal near Kangbyon Station on subway line 2. It takes about one hour and 40 minutes to get to Chunchon Bus Terminal if traffic conditions are favorable. A free shuttle bus service is available at the bus stop across from Chunchon Bus Terminal.

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