interview with Hansol jung

  Among the Dead  playwright Hansol Jung. Photo credit: Tess Mayer.

Among the Dead playwright Hansol Jung. Photo credit: Tess Mayer.

Scriptd exclusive: among the dead with Hansol Jung

Joshua (Scriptd): I thoroughly enjoyed Among the Dead. I understand that it is the first play that you wrote, which is very impressive. Could you tell us about that process and where the idea came from? Did you find writing your first play in English to be a difficult undertaking?

Hansol: The idea was to write a one person show, which was very emo and fully unfunny. It took six years and many more drafts to get it to where it is now. So yes, it is the first play I began to write, but not the first play I stopped tinkering with. 

The idea came from feeling alienated from my own city, Seoul, when I went back for a summer after a year of grad school. It was odd that my home felt so foreign. In that same summer there was a lot of heated conversation about reparations for our Comfort Women. I started thinking about how crazy it would've been for someone to return home after such a horrible life altering few years, and feel like they were still, on foreign ground. 

The fact that I was writing in English was less difficult than the fact that I was writing a play for the first time. 

Joshua (Scriptd): What do you hope that people will take away from Among the Dead?

Hansol: A hunger to understand the humanity that make up the people we label victims. 

Joshua (Scriptd): One thing that was very interesting to me is that the character of Jesus is so remarkably human. He also is a lovely source of comedy and lightness in the play. Why was it important for you to include this character?

Hansol: Jesus is the link between the three flawed humans. I think needed to articulate a universal force that hopes for healing. As in, what if there is force, that hopes and tries to make really broken things heal? Even when we are like, no! I'm too broken! No! This relationship is beyond repair! this force continues to come back with weed, spam, rosaries - really whatever you need in that moment, so that you can give it another shot. But also, what if this force is funny thus providing comic relief for all the horrible things that happening in these people's lives. 

Joshua (Scriptd): Was there a scene or idea that didn't make it into the final version of the play?

Hansol: So many. Of the first fifty pages I wrote, only the prologue scene remains - and only parts of the prologue.

Joshua (Scriptd): How has your own identity as a Korean woman influenced your work as a playwright?

Hansol: I'm not sure. 

I'm sure the plays are somehow infiltrated with my un-articulated thoughts on the terrible and awesome things about seeing the world from where I stand. 

I'm not sure how.

Joshua (Scriptd): Reading a play is very different than reading a novel. What advice do you have to our readers so that they can get the most out of the play reading experience?

Hansol: Read it in one sitting. 
Read it out loud if you can. 
Have your loved one read it out loud to you, if your loved one has a beautiful voice that is pleasant to listen to. 
And this one's a bit weird and personal preference, but I always find plays are easier to read in closed spaces ie bathtubs rather than open expanses ie beach. 

Joshua (Scriptd): I want to hank you so much for your time, Hansol! The Scriptd members will truly appreciate your insights. We are so glad you wrote and shared this beautiful play with us.  Also, congratulations on the world premiere of your newest play, Wild Goose Dreams.

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