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‘Come to See Me’ play relives nation’s most infamous serial killings

A scene from the Korean play “Come to See Me,” which is on an open-run at the Myeongdong Theater until Feb. 21. (Pro’s LAB)
A scene from the Korean play “Come to See Me,” which is on an open-run at the Myeongdong Theater until Feb. 21. (Pro’s LAB)
In 1986, the quiet rural town of Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, was left in horror when a young local woman was found bound, raped and murdered in a ditch near a grassy field.

At the time, no one could have predicted that the victim was only the first of what is estimated to be 10 woman killed over a five-year period at the hands of Korea’s most notorious serial killer -- who to this day still remains unknown.

A decade after the first murder, director Kim Kwang-lim boldly unveiled his new play, “Come to See Me,” based off the brutal unsolved serial killings.

In honor of the play’s 20th anniversary, “Come to See Me” has returned to the stage, holding daily shows at the Myeongdong Theater and bringing back actors from the play’s past productions as well as the original 1996 debut, including Kwon Hye-hyo, Kim Roe-ha, Yoo Yeon-su and Ryu Tae-ho.

What initially struck fear into the hearts of the local audience was a tale of the gruesome and unsolved murders, and swathes of people still find themselves helplessly intrigued by the seedy plot, with the play making its live return for the 16th time in the past two decades.

“When we first staged the play 20 years ago, the reaction we received from the audience was fear (of the plot),” said director Kwang-lim, during a press event on Wednesday.

“However, despite the initial fear, the audience went on to respond well to the play, and since then the production has undergone 10 different versions,” he continued. “This 20th anniversary performance is what I consider the script’s final draft.”

In 2003, critically acclaimed film director Bong Joon-ho adapted the play’s screenplay into the crime thriller “Memories of Murder” -- the director‘s second feature film. 

This year’s “final draft” live-stage rendition tells the tale of a team of small-town detectives who find themselves in an emotional and mental tailspin as they desperately attempt to solve these serial killings before the criminal mastermind claims his next victim. 

A scene from the Korean play “Come to See Me.” (Pro’s LAB)
A scene from the Korean play “Come to See Me.” (Pro’s LAB)
However, the detectives are tormented trying to piece together clues to their first serial murder case, having a limited staff and little to no forensics technologies at their disposal.

Roping in multiple possible suspects, including a mentally challenged man found skulking at the scene of the crime and a drunkard, and frustrated by their inability to nail any of the suspects for lack of concrete evidence, the detectives are at their wits’ ends and resort to violent measures to elicit confessions -- actions that only lead to unfortunate outcomes.

Other cast members also include Song Jong-hak, Kim Joon-won, Kim Dae-jong and Lee Hyun-chul.

“Come to See Me” is being staged at the Myeongdong Theater until Feb. 21 with ticket prices ranging from 10,000 won ($8.30) to 60,000 won. For more information, call 02-391-8223.

By Julie Jackson (