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A bellyfull of the Delicious Korean Musical, Chef!

Published:Wednesday | June 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
A member of the audience became a part of the production.
A scene from the Delicious Korean Musical Chef.
Head of Mission at the embassy of the Republic of Korea Young Gyu Lee greets the cast of A Delicious Korean Musical Chef after their performance at the Courtleigh Auditorium on Tuesday.

Those who attended the Korean production, Delicious Korean Musical, Chef, went home with a bellyfull of laughs. Co-hosted by the Korea Foundation and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Jamaica, on Tuesday night, the Courtleigh Auditorium was filled with patrons fully engaged in the well-choreographed, creative and hilarious production.

"There are certain items that people need, like shelter, clothing and the most universal of all - food. In every single country in the world, people eat. Especially nowadays, people are interested in food from other countries. That's why the focus for this ensemble performance is food," producer Juen Jun-Beom told The Gleaner.

The preparation is, of course, staged. Nevertheless, the performers had the audience fixated on stage action - complete with puffs of flour, ricocheting 'fish steaks' and one long noodle, which got tangled around the heads of the first few rows of the audience. The production is non-verbal, with the singers vocalising over tracks (and beatboxers). "It can communicate with any other country," Jun Beom said.

The centre of the production is the traditional Korean dish bibimbap - best described as rice mixed with meat and assorted vegetables. Like that dish, the production includes other meals from around the world, mixing them into a 'one pot performance' that people all over the world can enjoy.

Mixing the art forms like dance, a cappella, martial arts manoeuvres, and slapstick comedy, the choreography was deliberate. "We think that culture is more meaningful when it is shared. We would like to share Korean culture with other countries - one of them being Jamaica. Korean young people - they are very good at breakdancing and beatboxing - so we wanted to showcase that side of Korean culture," Jun-Beom added.

Those familiar with cooking show competitions will appreciate the structure of Delicious Korean Musical, Chef. "I think that this event can be a big booster for my Jamaican friends to understand my country's cultural dynamics, thereby we can increase our friendship. My country's promotion motto was once 'Dynamic Korea.' This performance is awash with rich sound and vivid visualisation - you can feel the 'Dynamic Korea' in this performance," Head of Mission Young Gyu Lee told The Gleaner.

"I always would like to position cultural exchanges at the centre of our relationship, because deeper friendship can be forged between the two countries, and our two people can be brought closely together through cultural exchanges. So under this kind of philosophy, I have decided to invite this world-class cultural performance team. In fact, my Jamaican friends have not seen any cultural events performed by invited team from my country for several years. At last, Korea's signature cultural team has made it to Jamaica. So I am more than glad to show it to Jamaicans," Young Gyu Lee continued.

The team arrived in Jamaica on Sunday, so they hadn't many chances to experience Jamaica. However, based on the audience's overwhelming positive reception, the producer told The Gleaner that they have felt the enthusiasm and the passion of the Jamaican people, qualities they admire very much. As for their first performance in Jamaica, Juen considers this destination their most fun thus far. "Like us Koreans who know how to enjoy [ourselves], Jamaicans know how to enjoy themselves," he said.