Wednesday, 18 April 2018

THE FREE 9




Great churnings of citizens have evaporated from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since Kim Jong Un came to power following the death of his father in 2011. The strangely-shaped and shaven dictator has since carved a name for himself as the chief executioner of the modern world, commanding the assassinations of family, friends and officials by firing squad, by blasting them with mortar rounds, by burning them alive via flame throwers, and by feeding their bodies to starving dogs. KJU is a bloodthirsty and murderous goon with the worst human rights record in the modern world. Under his rule, there is no such thing as 'human rights'. There is no free speech, the media is government-controlled, and foreign visitors are strictly monitored. Off to the peninsula on holiday? Mind how you go.
We're often assured that tales of forced labour, torture and human experimentation are greatly exaggerated. But the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International all condemn. The thought of President Trump sitting there idly considering five comfy locations for a summit with KJU is more than a little sickening, therefore. Shake hands and smile for the cameras, and all will be rehabilitated and well? Tell it to the estimated 200,000 North Koreans incarcerated in political prison camps tucked away in hostile, inaccessible regions, their existence denied by the NK authorities. Tell it to the family of his former defence chief, executed recently because he happened to fall asleep at a military event, his murder witnessed by hundreds of state officials.
Tell it to the teenagers of South London Youth Theatre, who have performed In-Sook Chappell's haunting, horrifying play 'The Free 9' at Theatre Peckham as part of National Theatre Connections 2018. Inspired by the true story of the 'Laos 9', it drops in on a clutch of street orphans forced to live a life of depravity and degradation while dreaming of a happy-ever-after of consumerism, sugar, fame and pop in the free South. Is their bid for freedom merely a fantasy, or a real and dangerous attempt? Haunted by lost relatives portrayed as eyeless zombies, and by the fear of capture and punishment, there will never be release for these youngsters. Not even if they escape.
How heart-stopping and mind-invading, the true efforts of this incredible group of teenaged performers guided by their producer-director Spencer James. They immersed themselves with every fibre in a slice of what the world needs to know. Out of the mouths of babes, President Trump. Out of the mouths of babes.
www.slyt.co.uk


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