On the finite wisdom of a Korean rice cooker. Jaha Koo gives a touching insight into the tragedy of a lonely life in a thoroughly technologised society.
고립무원, a feeling of “helpless isolation”, is characteristic of the life of the younger generation in present-day South Korea, the home of theatre-maker Jaha Koo. Structural problems such as youth unemployment or sexism are individualised, and a military, hierarchical social order knows no room for rebellion, expecting humbleness towards the powerful. Increasing suicide rates, isolation, a fixation on personal appearance, and the omnipresence of technology are just some of the symptoms of this condition.
Jaha Koo experienced isolation for himself one day when his electric rice cooker’s speech function informed him that his meal was ready – in “Cuckoo”, rice cookers are now his only co-actors. Supported by the hardware hacker Idella Craddock, he transforms several rice cookers into speaking performers. Together with them, he takes us on a journey through the last six hundred years of Korean history, combining personal experiences with political events and food cultures with world views. In bitter-sweet, humorous dialogues, Jaha Koo and his smart devices sum up technological progress and human inadequacies: if even the theatre stage doesn’t need human beings any more, where else are actors supposed to earn their bowl of rice?