Jang Gil-su is a North Korean defector who fled North Korea in 1999 at age 15. In January 1999, Jang Gil-su and his family, living in Hoeryeong, North Hamgyeong Province, crossed the Tumen River into China, they lived in China with the help of some ethnic Koreans in South Korean activist groups. During this time, he had to beg for food. Jang returned twice to North Korea, risking arrest and execution, to smuggle out more of his relatives. In March 2000, Jang Gil-su’s mother, Chung Sun-mi, was repatriated and handed over to the North Korean State Security Agency. On June 26, 2001, after storming the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and few of his relatives were permitted to stay in the office of the UNHCR in Beijing, he requested to be sent to South Korea, on June 30 of that same year, he arrived in South Korea via Manila. In 2004, Jang Gil-su graduated from high school three years from the time he first arrived in South Korea. Once in college, he planned on majoring in North Korean studies.
He chose North Korean studies because it is an area he knows most about, he felt he needed to do something for those trapped in North Korea. In a letter sent to South Korean Ambassador to the United States, Yang Sung-chul, on August 13, 2002, Senator Sam Brownback, supported by Senator Edward Kennedy, invited teenage defector Jang Kil-soo and his family to a photograph exhibition and reception in their honor to be held in the U. S. Capitol Rotunda in early September, the senators urged the South Korean government to allow Jang to visit it. Jang's memoir, 눈물로 그린 무지개, or The Rainbow I Painted With My Tears: A refugee boy's story in his own words and drawings, was published by Moonhak Soochop, it was published in Japan. His story is told in English through a book, Out of North Korea. North Korean defectors Teenaged North Korean Defector Reads Memoirs on RFA-Korean
Gopal Sharman was the author of 14 plays, three books, writer-director of scores of television programmes, many articles and columns, is best known for his dramatic version of the great epic, The Ramayana, written in English for the Royal Shakespeare Company of Great Britain, which subsequently has been presented on stage more than 2000 times to the highest acclaim in India and the theatre capitals of the West. Gopal Sharman was modern India's maverick artist par excellence! 80 million watched his TV series India Alive. On Broadway, his epic play, he composed his own music. The Akshara Theatre, situated on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, was constructed by him in the early 1970s, it is studied by architecture students. His political satires pack a deadly punch and his poetry reminded President Radhakrishnan of the Upanishads. Born in Calcutta,India, on 19 August 1935, Gopal was the sixth child of Dr. Buddhidhan Sharman, a medical doctor of repute, his wife Savitri. Both parents were Sanskrit scholars and ardent fighters in the cause of India's independence from British rule.
Sharman started his working life as a journalist in Lucknow and Calcutta but shifted to Delhi in 1958, where he began writing on the performing arts for several major Indian newspapers. He moved to London where he wrote on the arts for The Times and The Sunday Times, his acclaimed book on India music, Filigree in Sound was published in London by Andre Deutsch. He has written columns for the Washington Post in the United States, his theatrical career was launched by Professor Radhakrishnan, President of India with a reading of Gopal's poems and stories at the Rashtrapati Bavan by his wife Jalabala. Shortly after the couple embarked on a tour that took them to Europe and international high praise from critics and audiences alike; this first production, Full Circle, was followed by an invitation from the Royal Shakespeare Company of Great Britain to bring a play to their World Theatre Season. The play in question was Sharman's The Ramayana, a play in English in four acts that retold the epic story from a contemporary viewpoint, but without any loss of reverence.
Sharman rose to prominence as a playwright and director with his first production, Full Circle, a collection of his stories and poems performed by his actress wife, Jalabala Vaidya. Full Circle had its London premiere at the Mercury Theatre, where T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral and Christopher Fry's Ascent of F6 had had their world premieres; the Sunday Times hailed Sharman as a new major poet and said of Jalabala Vaidya: she performs exquisitely. The Guardian described Sharman as a Renaissance man who would leave any Medici panting well in the rear; the production, an inspired view of contemporary India with its mixture of pointless poverty, classical Indian thought, comic asides on cobweb-shrouded government departments, pure lyricism is inspired by Sharman's early life. Sharman returned to India to write his dramatic, contemporary version of the 5000-year-old Indian epic, The Ramayana, for the RSC; the power and beauty of Sharman's play acclaimed and applauded by purists and modernists alike in India, Jalabala's'tour de force' performance, Sharman's superb direction and production design have made The Ramayana, with more than 2000 performances to date, something of a legend in contemporary world theatre.
It has played on Broadway in New York, on London's West End, the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where it received a standing ovation, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D. C. the National Theatres of Finland and Canada — in the Bahamas and the Fiji Islands — and in more cities and towns in India than any other theatrical production since after Independence. Robert A. Hendrickson first produced the play on Broadway, New York in 1975; when The Ramayana played in New York, the New York Times hailed Sharman's play as "India's Gift to Broadway" On the U. S. West Coast, poet Gene Detro wrote in Portland's Oregon Journal: "Both poet playwright Gopal Sharman and his actress wife Jalabala Vaidya are possessed of genius … Sharman's script fuses poetic power with the pacing of a fine film editor". Gopal Sharman has created an exquisite arts complex in an old Lutyen's bungalow in New Delhi called the Akshara National Classical Theatre and designed by himself, embellished by his own stone carvings.
This complex houses television production studios and a gallery. Here the couple live. From the mid-‘80s, Sharman has made a series of outstanding television programmes and documentaries for television; these include the popular India Alive series, The Kashmir Story, The Sufi Way, Music Alive and My Life is My Song, all telecast nationally. His 11-part series India was telecast on PBS, USA. Sharman's Akshara Theatre combines theatre production, television production, a training programme for the classical arts and a publishing division. Gopal's plays include Full Circle, The Ramayana, Let's Laugh Again, India Alive, Jeevan Geet, The Bhagavad Gita, In Goethe's Magical World, I, Galileo Galilei, Alice& Humpty Dumpty and That, etc, his television work has been viewed by millions of Indians and includes the 31-part series India Alive two and a half hour documentary The Kashmir Story, the 6-part Sufi Way, the 8-part Music Alive, My Life Is My Song, his musical documentary, the five-part Kathanjali based in his own stories as well as Tagore's Gitanjali and The Kabuliwala.