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"KPOP" Music Writer Jason Kim Talks Bringing Korean Culture to Broadway

The global phenomenon that is Korean pop music has confidently swept the world music charts for the past decade, and now it’s taking over Broadway.

On November 27, an electrifying new musical, KPOPis set to open at New York’s Circle in the Square Theater, telling the story of a young singer and her entertainment label, and the risks and rewards of being a K-Pop idol.

The show, written and conceptualized by playwright and television writer Jason Kim, is the first time an aspect of Korean culture has been presented on a Broadway stage — a milestone that, Kim shared, went a long way. first accompanied by a certain feeling of pressure.

“To be honest, I realized pretty early on writing this that there was no feasible way for me to represent the whole country or the whole genre,” Kim said. Pleasemynews. “And so, I sort of freed myself from that obligation and instead tried to write as freely as possible.”

Kim began writing the series about a decade ago, drawing inspiration from some of her favorite behind-the-scenes musicals, like Gypsy other dream girlbefore KPOP made its theatrical debut in 2017 at the Ars Nova.

The show started as an immersive experience on the off-Broadway stage, and Kim wanted to bring that same immersive energy in a new light to the new stage.

“Our goal in bringing it to Circle was to move the show around the audience,” Kim explained. “So we kind of had this container where you’re up close and personal with all these fictional K-pop stars, and it still feels like the show is kinetic and constantly on the move, except this time you sit down and go and have your drink.”

Coming from South Korea to the United States as a child, Kim has always loved K-pop, admiring bands like Epik High for their meaningful, faith-based lyrics. Although he didn’t want to draw inspiration from specific K-pop groups for the show, Kim still did thousands of hours of research into the world of being an idol trainee and wrote songs that were diegetic – ones that both advanced the story and existed as pop. performances within the stylistic universe he has created for himself.

“It was a challenge, I’m not going to lie,” Kim laughed. “But it was also a lot of fun because it’s something that I never thought I’d come across as a writer, and it really appeals to a specific part of storytelling, to be able to lay the groundwork for this genre. of music to present.”

“What’s so special about it is that it may have started on the page, but what you see in front of you, the show is so many steps beyond the page, to three-dimensionalize it and bring these characters to life. So many people must have spent countless hours trying to do that,” he added.

Kim credited the cast as the creators of such a reality. The show features 18 Broadway debuts, many with K-pop experience, including Luna, a former member of K-pop girl group f(x), who plays the central character of MwE.

“To see this level of talent on stage, every night, performing night after night, is a truly special experience,” Kim said.

For those going to see the show, all Kim asks is that you “come have fun.”

“I have this desire to come out of the pandemic to be part of a shared experience, especially one that feels kind of escapist and just as entertaining and fun as possible, so we really wanted it to be like that,” said Kim.

KPOP will officially open on November 27.

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