Big stars, small screens and a boom in musicals

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Big stars, small screens and a boom in musicals

The year 2007 is all about major stars and even bigger budgets.
Although the Korean pop wave hallyu is losing steam overall, more singers and bands hope to reach all-time high abroad. Local broadcasters have a lineup of top movie stars set to appear in television dramas. The film industry is busy making big-budget films to compete against imported blockbusters.

Theaters are ready to bring more big-name shows in line with the continuous rise of the musical boom here. In arts, a series of international print and design biennales are coming, along with an Andy Warhol retrospective.

Many of the movie stars from the big screen will squeeze into your living rooms this year, as the upcoming TV dramas will feature big names such as Choi Jin-sil, Hwang Soo-jeong and Lee Mi-yeon.
Choi is first on the lineup with MBC-TV’s “The Good Woman and the Bad Woman.” She will star with Sung Hyun-ah, another actress more familiar in the movie theaters.
Hwang Soo-jeong chose SBS-TV’s “Salt Doll” as her first television work in five years since abruptly leaving the TV industry after getting caught using methamphetamines. Lee Mi-yeon also decided that the year 2007 would be a good year for her to return to TV after spending five years doing only movies. She’ll be starring on SBS-TV’s “Crazy in Love.”
Recently divorced, Chae Rim is expected to be back on Korean television after taking a break from a long fan tour through China.
Lee Yo-won, who disappeared from television after getting married, is said to be getting ready to return to television dramas as well.

Sales of art are expected to continue to rise this year in the local commercial market, as investor-designed art funds and auctions have become new investment opportunities for many Koreans. Major exhibitions are also taking place across the country. An Andy Warhol retrospective will open at Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art.
Daegu is launching its first international print biennale in July, a medium which has earned a steady growth in popularity. The Gwangju Design Biennale will open in October for the second time under the theme “Integration and Communication.”
A large group of Korean artists will also continue to show in China, a new breeding ground for Asian contemporary art, and hold cross-exchange exhibits. Arario Beijing, a gallery which opened a museum in the Chinese capital, plans a series of shows featuring contemporary Korean artists.
Through Jan. 31, the Arco Museum is featuring “China Gate: 2006 The Perspective and Its Shift of Chinese Contemporary Art.”

Except for “The Royal Jester” (formerly “The King and the Clown”) and “Host,” which became record hits last year, domestic films at the Korean box office generally flopped in 2006. The movie industry is hoping the New Year’s lineup will liven up the Korean film market and give it a good boost for 2007.
This week, “Go Go Sisters,” starring actress Ko So-young, opens in theaters nationwide, followed by Lim Sang-soo’s “The Old Garden,” a literary adaptation from Hwang Seok-young’s novel of the same title. A big-budget animation feature, “YeuYoo Bi,” opens at the end of this month along with “His Voice,” currently running first in an Internet promotional survey as the film female cinemagoers want to watch because it features actors Sul Kyung-gu and Kang Dong-won.
Several imported films, including Denzel Washington’s “Deja Vu,” as well as “Eragon,” “Death Note 2” and “Black Book,” are also coming here early in the year, pushing the domestic industry to hurry to open their own blockbusters to compete.
Another interesting fact is that more animals are appearing in Korean films this year.
Heo In-mu’s “Herb” features a giant cobra. And director Han Jang-hyeok cast a live elephant for his film “Kogila,” expected in the summer.

This year many big-budget hit shows will climb onto the stage. Auditions for “Miss Saigon,” which will open later this month in Daegu, were completed last month.
Disney’s major hit musical “The Lion King,” which saw its curtains go up in October, is on an open run. In July, Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” will be back on the stage at the LG Arts Center. The Korean hit musical “The Last Empress” will lift its curtains again later this month as well.
While the major hit musicals are surging in popularity, so are the number of original musicals, according to Shin Eun at OD Musical Company.
“This year many musical and entertainment companies are seeking original works,” Ms. Shin said. “Already many of the major hit musical abroad have been imported to Korea, including the upcoming ‘Les Miserables’ (July).
“Although there are a group of customers still seeking major hit musicals, there has been a steady growth of customers who want original works that meet Korean sentiments.”
OD Musical Company said it is planning later this year to open its own original musical, “Singles,” which is based on the Korean movie of the same title.
Some of the musicals, which previously targeted mostly females in their 20s and 30s, are expanding to a larger audience of older people and men. OD is looking forward to the January musical “All Shook Up,” which will present the songs of Elvis Presley.

The music industry in Korea is taking a hit because people are illegally downloading songs free on the Internet. With the rise of the online music content market, and a decrease in album sales, music labels are looking to promote their musicians globally.
Rain had been picked as one of the most influential people in 2006 by Time Magazine. Se7en is planning on releasing a duet with the American singer Amerie. In addition, YG Entertainment’s Stony Skunk is also said to be preparing for the global market.
As the Korean music market has been moving to the online world, singles as well as albums that feature two or more artists have been selling well, such as SG Wannabe’s collaborations with SeeYa and Kim Jong-guk and Kangta’s collaboration with Hong Kong singer Vanness.
This trend has also made ballads more popular, as visually stimulating dance routines are no longer a forte.
Ballads with a hint of R&B vocal arrangements, such as Pek Jee-young’s “Will Not Love Again” or (Sarang Anhae) and Eru’s “Black Glasses” (Ggaman Angyeong) have been dominating the charts. They are likely to continue to do so in 2007.
Solo albums by former members of idol groups, such as Sohn Ho-young and Kim Tae-woo (from god.) as well as Park Jeong-ah (from Jewelry), have gotten a good reception, and their songs are gaining steady support from fans both past and present.

by Life & Style Team
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