Out of the Margins

15 SEPTEMBER 2023 - 06 OCTOBER 2023
P'yongyang 3. Headshot 2. Annotations 1. Cover
P'yongyang
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11. In-Sook Chappell

P'yongyang

P'yongyang 
Signed and annotated
First edition paperback 
20.9 x 13 cm London: Oberon, 2016

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£1,000 - 10,000

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Out of the Margins (11/55)

Notes


"I became a writer when I lost my home" 

This is the opening annotation in a gorgeously annotated first edition of the play that was originally performed at the Finborough Theatre in 2016, paraphrasing Korean novelist, Hwang Sok-yong. Written by award-winning, Korean-born playwright In-Sook Chappell – who was inspired by a childhood visit to the Demilitarized Zone at the height of the Cold War and by the experiences of North Korean refugees – P’yongyang was shortlisted for the 2013 Bruntwood Prize Award. 

Spanning three decades, we watch the lives of two lovers unfold: Chi-Soo, arrogant and handsome, and determined to be a screenwriter, and Eun-Mi, shy, awkward, humble, both united by a passion for movies and the performing arts. The play uncovers the hierarchical structures of North Korea and reveals the historical enmity between the North and the South, while examining the ambivalent role stars of stage and screen play in our lives. As Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian, "Not the least of the play’s merits is that it reminds us that even refugees from tyranny retain an obdurate love of their homeland." 

As the annotations unfold, we find out why the playwright names the lead male character Chi-Soo, and how she "really fell in love with all the North Korean propaganda films. Such a strange tone." She talks about being a young person growing up in Essex and how Hyun Park from Studio Dragon warned "me against any depictions of the Kim family in theatre/TV or film". The playwright points out the speech that always makes her cry. 

There is so much love, and affection, and humour in these annotations. In-Sook scribbles at the start of Act Two: "Water on stage! How do we do this? Will everyone want to wee?" The playwright ends with "Thank you for reading" and draws a love heart, which is indicative of the warmth and loving nature of the annotations throughout this special edition. You really feel In-Sook has really loved annotating her play for you! 

There are beautifully written annotations, underlinings, crossings-out and neon-highlighted lines on almost every page of this 95 page first edition. It's a delicate, beautiful, gentle insight into an ambitious, big play.

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