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The Birth of the NTOK

The City Hall, Bumingwan, Opening performance, Wonsulrang

The National Theater of Korea located on Namsan, which is a central of the metropolitan city of Seoul founded in April 1950. It was not until the National Theater established on Namsan in 1973 that it was transferred from place to place under many circumstances.

After the Korean Government was established in 1948, an executive order to establish a national theater was promulgated. The Bumingwan, the City Hall(now Seoul Metropolitan Council) was designated as a site for a national theater, and Yoo Chi-jin was named the first president of the National Theater of Korea. The New Theatre Council was inaugurated with a national theater in January 1950, under which two resident drama companies, Shin-hyup and Geuk-hyup. They staged Wonsulrang(written by Yoo Chi-jin) for the opening performance in April 1950. It drew more than fifty thousand visitors for 15 days.

The subsequent staging of a Thunderstorm(written by Cho Woo) was successful in a row. The play drew approximately 75,000 people, or about one sixth of the total population of Seoul and registered a new high in Korea's drama history. While it was working on its third performance, all activities of theater were totally paralyzed with the outbreak of the Korean War only after 57 days of opening.

During the Korean War

Daegu Cultural Center

The war made the theater's functions completely paralyzed. Many artists were either kidnapped or defected to the North Korea. Consequently, hopes for a new theatrical art were dashed. However their passion survived the internecine war. A money bill to rebuild the National Theater was passed in May 1952 by the National Assembly and the cabinet meeting. With a decision to use the Daegu Cultural Center as a new place for the National Theater, it reopened in a refuge of Daegu.

Return to Seoul

Seoul Public Hall, Sigonggwan, The National Theater in Myong-dong

Returning to the capital after the war, the National Theater opened at the Sigonggwan(Seoul Public Hall) in June 1957 on condition that it would occupy part of the latter. With no resident companies under exclusive contract with the National Theater, it invited members of Shin-hyup to work for the National Drama Company. Witnessing ordeals such as the April 19 Student Uprising and the May 16 Military Coup on one hand, and a rapid influx of visual media into Korea including the film industry on the other, the theatrical arts faced new challenglishes. Rising up to such challenglishes of the times, the National Theater came up with a variety of self-help measures including 'Opening a Prize List of Plays' which aims at boosting performances of original plays.

With the newly establishment of Seoul Public Hall by the Seoul City Government, Sigonggwan became an exclusive building for the National Theater in Myeongdong. Timing with the Opening ceremony of the renovated National Theater in March 1962, the theater inaugurated resident companies including the National Dance, Changgeuk, Opera Company in addition to the existing Drama Company.

The Ntok in Namsan

Seoul Public Hall, Sigonggwan

Returning to the capital after the war, the National Theater opened at the Sigonggwan(Seoul Public Hall) in June 1957 on condition that it would occupy part of the latter. With no resident companies under exclusive contract with the National Theater, it invited members of Shin-hyup to work for the National Drama Company. Witnessing ordeals such as the April 19 Student Uprising and the May 16 Military Coup on one hand, and a rapid influx of visual media into Korea including the film industry on the other, the theatrical arts faced new challenglishes. Rising up to such challenglishes of the times, the National Theatercame up with a variety of self-help measures including 'Opening a Prize List of Plays' which aims at boosting performances of original plays.

With the newly establishment of Seoul Public Hall by the Seoul City Government, Sigonggwan became an exclusive building for the National Theater in Myongdong. Timing with the Opening ceremony of the renovated National Theater in March 1962, the theater inaugurated resident companies including the National Dance, Changgeuk, Opera Company in addition to the existing Drama Company.