‘K-pop has the magical power to break through language barriers.

Spread the love

A boy who loved the stories his grandmother told him when he was young, and a girl who fell in love with candy sung by the group HOT. They later grew up and stood at the forefront of promoting Korea to audiences worldwide.

This is the story of Korean-American playwright Jason Kim (37) and co-composer Helen Park (36) of the musical “KPOP,” which opens on Broadway in New York on the 27th.

The musical KPOP is the first Broadway production with the theme of Korean popular culture and is being previewed at Broadway Circle in the Square Theater in New York, the center of the world’s performance world. As if to prove the status of K-pop, which has changed in recent years, the work is receiving significant attention from foreign media, such as the New York Times (NYT), and local audiences.

At the center of the performance are writer Jason Kim and composer Helen Park, who planned the musical KPOP. In addition to musicals, Jason Kim is a regular Emmy Award-nominated writer who wrote the US HBO dramas Barry,’ ‘Girls’ and Netflix’s ‘Love.’ Recently, he has been busy working on a screenplay for a new Hollywood movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians, a spin-off. Helen Park, a native of Busan, moved to Canada in her third year of middle school and then majored in musical composition at New York University Graduate School. After dropping out of medical school with the encouragement of her parents, she chose music and pursued a career as a musical composer.

“I’m pleased to see the growth of the field I’ve loved since I was young. I didn’t have to explain what K-Pop was when I was doing my work.” (Jason Kim)

“Just a few years ago, it was common to joke about whether you were from North Korea or South Korea when you said you were from South Korea. However, with the success of BTS and the popularity of Parasite and Squid Game, I feel that a big change has occurred.” (Helen Park)

Korean culture is an indispensable part of their childhood. For example, Jason Kim said, “I came to America before cell phones and the Internet developed. “As a child, she grew up with her grandmother, who loved stories. She became a writer thanks to him and wants to tell stories as her grandmother did for me.”

Helen Park said, “The first album I bought in the fourth grade of elementary school was Lula’s 4th album. After that, I fell in love with HOT’s candy and opened my eyes to idol music.”

This musical depicts how a fictional Korean agency, RBX, prepares solo female singer Mui, girl groups, and boy groups to debut in the US market. She is an idol who shines brilliantly on stage, but the joys and sorrows she experienced from her trainee days to after her debut was brought to life in three dimensions. She also dealt with weighty topics such as the nurturing system hidden by huge industries, discrimination, and racial hatred experienced in the United States.

“Although Asians make up a high percentage of the world’s population, stories about Asians are overly simplified in mainstream media. I tried.” (Helen Park)

It’s essential to show this work in an era where COVID-19 is still ongoing and uncertainty is added. Growing up, I never saw a Korean character on stage but an Asian in the audience for KPOP musicals. I’m more than happy to see the audience.” (Jason Kim)

At the time of its off-Broadway premiere in 2017, Korean popular culture, known mainly for singer Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style,’ had become a global trend sweeping the world. For this performance, actors from real idol singers were cast, including Luna, who was active in the girl group F(X), Min (girl group miss A), Kim Bo-Hyung (girl group Spica), and Kevin (boy group U-Kiss). However, it is difficult to find a precedent in that 21 of the 22 people who won the role were people of color. Jason Kim praised, “It’s a real joy to be with Luna, Kevin, Min, and Bohyeong.”

Lastly, when asked why fans love K-pop worldwide, Helen Park replied: “K-Pop has the magical power of breaking through language barriers with the power of music. We aim to show a little bit of that in this work.”

Leave a Reply