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Korea National Opera looks forward to greater stability, end to turbulence, under a new leader

New artistic director to focus on four main areas to guide opera troupe toward a better future

The Korea National Opera’s newly appointed Artistic Director Park Hyung-sik, 66, announced four areas he intended to focus on during his term, at a press event held Tuesday at the Seoul Arts Center. They are balance and harmony; fairness and solidarity; expansion of the company; and social responsibility.

Park, a former singer with more than 20 years of experience, previously led the Jeongdong Theater and the Uijeongbu Arts Center. He will be heading the state opera company for three years. 

Park Hyung-sik, the new artistic director of the Korea National Opera, speaks during a press event held Tuesday at the Seoul Arts Center. (Yonhap)
Park Hyung-sik, the new artistic director of the Korea National Opera, speaks during a press event held Tuesday at the Seoul Arts Center. (Yonhap)

At the press event, he talked about the four areas for improvement that he hopes will bring stability to the opera company after a number of turbulent years. Over the past decade numerous directors, including Yoon Ho-geun, left the post midway through their terms for a variety of reasons.

“First, we will be looking into hiring seasonal artistic directors (for each production) for balance and harmony. I want to give more rights to talented producers, offering them the stage to show their ability,” Park said.

He explained further that former artistic directors had to be responsible for artistic creativity and also have management skills, which he said was a lot to expect of one person.

“By hiring a seasonal (temporary) director for each work, there will be more chances to hire diverse professionals and the directors can focus more on the artistic aspects. I will focus more on the management,” he said, without elaborating.

Park also stressed the need for fairness and solidarity, arguing that organizations and schools concerned with opera need to join forces and form a network. He also spoke of the need for the opera troupe to have its own space, an audition system and fair pay.

“Next is expansion and flight. I will work on producing repertories for the sustainable development of the troupe,” the new head said, adding that the troupe needs to create more original productions.

A National Assembly audit of the Korea National Opera earlier this month found that the body had not produced many original works despite its status as a national body. Apart from the recent “1945,” there were no original productions in the years 2016 to 2018.

He also mentioned social responsibility, as the company is a state-funded one. The government provided 100 percent of the company’s annual budget of 10 billion won ($8.35 million) this year.

“As the company is operated with taxpayer money, the public institution should uphold its social responsibility. I will create opera pieces that can touch the people’s hearts,” he said.

Park said he is fully aware of the controversies surrounding the opera company and plans to address the problems.

“Though good-hearted people have led this troupe, it has been continuously embroiled in controversies, perhaps because of the lack of a system. By finding the perfect balance between art and management, the company may be able to function better,” he said.

By Im Eun-byel (