My First Week at PlayRock

This summer I am working as an intern for PlayRock in Seoul, South Korea.  PlayRock is a theater that aims to increase awareness of discrimination in society through the art of theater and seeks to utilize the therapeutic value of theater. Through theater, PlayRockbrings attention to marginalized groups in society, and effectively brings the public’s attention to these groups and helps those marginalized people by means of drama therapy. Amongst marginalized groups, PlayRock mainly works with marginalized teenagers and also teaches theater classes for alternative schools. With these students, PlayRock produced a children’s play called “A Star and Us” which encouraged children to accept each others’ differences.

Since PlayRock works with marginalized people, PlayRock tries to be as accessible as possible for people who do not usually go to a theater. For example, PlayRock has performed on the street, at town halls and at local public schools. In this way PlayRock has lowered the barriers for local residents so that they can enjoy theater. In addition to this, every summer PlayRock tours and performs a play in rural towns where there are no cultural facilities such as a theater or museum. This summer PlayRock will tour Gangwon province, which shares a border with North Korea, with the teenage North Korean refugees.

At PlayRock I am working on the North Korean refugee theater project. I recruit participants, organize meetings with the organizations, conduct research regarding drama therapy programs, and most importantly, assist in the counseling sessions for North Korean refugees. Right now, I am focusing on contacting North Korean refugee organizations, schools, religious organizations and social workers that work with North Korean refugees to get advice on what I should keep in mind when I work with North Korean refugees. I have had great opportunities to meet North Korean refugees and have learned a lot about their experiences in South Korea. Many refugees have told me how much they hate it when people ask their opinion about political issues regarding North Korea and when people treat them as if they do not know anything just because they are refugees.

Besides recruiting, I am talking with refugees in order to tailor the program to their needs and interests. North Korean refugees do not usually have an opportunity to get an art education since all the educational programs for them are focused on vocation or standardized college entrance exams. While discussing this issue, I learned about refugees’ school life and, by understanding them better, I have started to build relationships with them. During this summer, I hope to build solid relationships, learn how to better understand marginalized people from different backgrounds, and also how to build trust with them.

Overall, I am truly enjoying my time at PlayRock and am grateful that I have the chance to work with great people. My supervisor has thoroughly trained me in communicating with marginalized people and how to prepare for counseling sessions. I also met interesting people outside of PlayRock by attending meetings for NPOs and NGOs in Seoul with my supervisor. Meeting various people who are working for civil society inspired me a lot and has helped me in building a network. I hope the connections I am building now will lead to greater conversations about my future career.

– Sohyun Shin ’15