There are some moments when everyone is tired and exhausted by life. And they have their own ways to overcome these moments and encourage themselves; food, drink, exercise, reading, drama, music, … almost anything! There are a variety of cultural media for tired people, however, most of the content for cheering people up deal with stories in which characters from a lower class go through some drastic changes in their social position through falling in love with an upper class person, or having some fantastic economic success. We can get temporary comfort by watching these stories but people generally feel that they are unrealistic stories that are only possible in dramas, movies or plays. Musicals often have showy elements including catchy music and attractive characters, but they can’t always be cathartic and dust away our worries. However, there is one musical that consoles and relieves hard feelings with a story of everyday life. I recommend a creative musical that washes away stress. It’s called BBALLAE. The musical BBALLAE encourages and consoles us through its main characters who endure the loneliness and pain of Seoul-life, and seek their dreams. The healing power of this musical has continued for 10 years and is finally spreading to Japan. BBALLAE has gained popularity in Japan with favorable reviews, perhaps because it reminds them of something important that other Japanese commercial musicals have forgotten. Over five hundred thousand people have seen this musical! Let’s go into the refreshing laundry spot.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Nayoung is a 27-year-old lady, who came to Seoul from Gangwondo five years ago with a dream to become an author. In reality she is merely a part-time book store employee. Sollongo, whose name means ‘rainbow’, is an immigrant worker from Mongolia who always says, “It hurts, give money, don’t hit me please”, and hears curses more often than her name. They first meet on the roof top of a house while hanging out their laundry. Sollongo loses his heart at first sight of Nayoung. Soon they become close due to Nayoung’s laundry. One rainy day, Nayoung accidentally hears Sollongo’s telephone conversation with the factory manager who says that Sollongo doesn’t need to come there anymore. In fact, Sollongo’s wages for the last four months are overdue. Sollongo smiles and says, “I’m OK” when Nayoung tries to comfort and cheer him up. But Sollongo reveals his sincere pain through a song; “Overdue salaries are more than received salaries. People ignore, deceive, and avoid me, but I can’t leave. I have the hope that I will earn money and achieve my dream.” Nayoung’s landlord also has a pain she can’t tell her neighbors about. That is, her daughter is a basket case so she must stay at home. She lives her life washing diapers every day for her forty-year-old daughter. But she keeps on living with the thought that washing is evidence of life. One day, her daughter is suddenly in pain, so she asks Heejung, who’s mother lives next door, for help. Heejung’s mother goes to the hospital, carrying her on her back. They have felt awkward with each other because of the overdue monthly rent, but they become close neighbors after that. The bookstore boss wrongly fires an employee who challenges him, despite his having worked since the store opened. Nayoung told the boss that it is unfair, but she is in danger to be expelled, too. That evening, Nayoung drinks with her colleagues and meets Sollongo on the way home. After a while, they meet Sollong’s drunk landlord. When the drunken landlord fghts with them, Nayoung who feels stressed all day yells at the drunk and bickers with in a raised voice. Although Sollongo apologizes to him politely, he is very angry and tells Sollongo to vacate the room. He even hits Sollongo when he learns that he is an illegal alien. Sollongo can’t endure it any longer. Next day, Nayoung cries at the door of her house because her life seems too hard. Her landlord and Heejung’s mother cheer her with a song of consolation; “Let’s give life to the wind like the laundry gives itself to the wind. After many years pass, these sad tears will be also dried like the laundry is dried. Mess ’em up!” From their comforting words, Nayoung cries out, "I am not tired!" This cry makes the audience feel so refreshed. Sollongo doesn't need to vacate his room as a favor of Nayoung's landlord, and he gets another job. Nayoung also starts to work at a bookstore storage place in Paju for re-employment education. The musical has a happy ending in which Nayoung and Sollongo get married among congratulations from their neighbors.
"The frantic flowing twenties, I don't know what I did and what I lived for", are the lyrics of Nayoung's song. They have dreams but must scrap their dreams in the face of reality. This story arouses the sympathy of the audience members who also get tired of living. Besides Nayoung and Sollongo, all the neighbors have their grief and troubles in life. Even the drunk person who put Sollongo in danger, also has grief. The ending is not wonderful and spectacular, but the musical BBALLAE deals with a real life story in the slums and it moves the audience deeply. It does not deliver hope directly but it comforts and encourages the audience through a genuine story. In particular, in the scenes in which friends and neighbors comfort each other, the audience gains great comfort and hope. You may have troubles at this moment in your life like worry, concern, and anxiety, however, they are also the evidence that we are living. I hope you find comfort and hope through BBALLAE when your life is painful and you need consolation. Clearly, it will cheer us up for living. Like the lyrics of the song, "Doing the laundry, removes yesterday like a stain, brush today like dust and iron wrinkled tomorrow. With wearing a neatly-ironed tomorrow, let’s live today."