The Apology ★★★★ Arcola Theatre | Sep 15 - Oct 8, 2022


The World War II history of military sexual slavery in Korea by Japanese forces is a story that has only relatively recently come to light. It is estimated that up to as many as two hundred thousand women may have suffered from this practice, although it has been consistently denied or swept under the carpet by various governments. In The Apology, playwright, Kyo Choi, shines a light on the UN investigation of these horrific acts and also humanises that abstract reality through the narrative of one family's journey to truth. The official uncovering of this systemic abuse is interwoven with the exposure of its impact on those who directly suffered oppression and on those who are its heirs. Jessie Baek gives a compelling performance as Kwon Bok-Hae who as a teenager is lured into becoming a 'comfort woman' and who later exposes her sufferings. Kwong Loke is wonderfully understated as her husband, Han Min, who has his own survival secret from the war, and Minhee Yeo captures the rage and incomprehension of a daughter who witnesses her parents' attempt to deal with their trauma. The pain is not confined to the generation that directly suffers it, and while all of the participants in these awful events, including governments, might prefer to forget them, The Apology points out that running away from these dreadful facts is not an option. Only through a full acknowledgement of what has happened can change and, perhaps, forgiveness take root. This is a play that needs to be seen, inasmuch as it, itself, can provide a step towards reconciliation with this dark moment in history.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Ikin Yum.

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