• Cuckoo - Jaha Koo

    © Radovan Dranga

  • Cuckoo - Jaha Koo

    © Wolf Silveri

  • © Radovan Dranga

  • © Eunkyung Jeong

A journey through the last 20 years of Korean history told by a bunch of talkative rice cookers.

One day when his electric rice cooker informed him that his meal was ready, Jaha Koo experienced a deep sense of isolation. ‘Golibmuwon’ (고립무원) is an untranslatable Korean word expressing the feeling of helpless isolation that characterizes the lives of many young people in Korea today.

Twenty years ago there was a major economic crisis in South-Korea, comparable to the financial crash in the United States and Southern Europe in 2008. This crisis had a huge impact on the young generation to which South Korean artist Jaha Koo belongs. He witnessed many endemic problems including youth unemployment and socio-economic inequality. Rising suicide rates, isolation, acute social withdrawal and a fixation on personal appearance are but a few of the symptoms.

In bittersweet and humorous dialogues, Jaha and his clever rice cookers take you on a journey through the last 20 years of Korean history, combining personal experience with political events and reflections on happiness, economic crises and death.

In English & Korean, with English & Dutch subtitles
Duration: 55 minutes

Trigger warning: this performance contains images of suicide, explicit content & stroboscopic light


The Hamartia Trilogy  

Cuckoo forms the second part of Jaha Koo's Hamartia Trilogy. Together with Lolling & Rolling and The History of Korean Western Theatre, the trilogy consists of three intelligent documentary theatre performances, each telling a story about 'hamartia', Greek for 'tragic error'. The common thread here is the far-reaching imperialism of the past and present, and its sometimes unexpected personal impact. Each time, Jaha Koo interweaves his personal stories with historical, political and sociological facts. Often themes that involve a clash of Eastern and Western culture: from the clipping of tongues to make it in the West, to the heavy personal toll of Western interference in the macroeconomic sphere.  



Cuckoo serves as a documentary narrative that everyone should witness. Its originality shines through, challenging preconceptions by highlighting the power of three rice cookers as unlikely raconteurs.

Medium - Lorenzo Belenguer,

Cuckoo is a heavy, affecting piece of documentary theatre that masterfully wields its multimedia for both dark humour and piercing effect.

Bakchormeeboy - ★★★★★,

My main artistic languages are music, video and robotic objects as theatre-maker.

Men's Folio - Charmaine Tan,

A suicide every 37 minutes - Or how capitalism kills

Publico - Mariana Duarte,

... the work is intrinsically Korean – but which also has a modern European style and sensitivity, and sits very well into the body of Flemish new theatre work that explores the possibilities of the performance-lecture. A week later, I’m still haunted by the show’s sounds and images.

Totaltheatre.org.uk - Dorothy Max Prior ,

This performance by Koo is intriguing, disturbing and reflective of a world more and more subject to the dystopian Orwellian view.

Global Media Post - Mike Harrison,

In Cuckoo, Jaha Koo tries to capture how his young personal life is entangled with collective South-Korean history.

Etcetera - Jasper Delbecke & Sébastien Hendrickx,

Jaha Koo breaks through the boundaries between human and machine/robot that we as humans wish to preserve. How we can still be human, is the existential question Jaha Koo formulates in Cuckoo.

Tumult.fm - Carlo Siau,