Creative shows need fine-tuning

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Creative shows need fine-tuning

No doubt Korean creative musicals have improved in terms of their completeness and storytelling. But after attending the performances of three productions last month, it’s also clear they have a ways to go.

“Bappeo” at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts was lackluster, and “Late Night Dining” at Dongsoong Hall in Daehagno attempted to weave together several stories, but the result was a lack of focus.

“Musical Wandeuki” at Hongik University’s Daehagno Art Center was the best of the bunch, with a fine storyline and character development, and compelling action. Still, I left thinking something was missing.

Coincidentally, when I returned home the film “Wandeuki,” also known as “Punch,” was on television and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. The movie is the coming-of-age story of a teenage delinquent, Wandeuk, born to a disabled Korean father and a Filipino mother who abandons him, and the teacher who guides him.

When I tried to think of movies or television dramas that had been made into successful musicals, I came up blank. There was “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” and “Lovers in Paris,” but they were hardly hits.

Why can’t Korean musicals be as interesting as movies? “Wandeuki” the film effectively captured the subtle emotions of the characters and carried them throughout the story. While movies employ camera techniques to catch the details of actors’ expressions and actions, musicals have more limitations.

Music is supposed to fill in the gaps, but it is the music in Korean creative musicals that seems to be inadequate.

According to Interpark, the country’s largest online ticketing service, original musicals such as “Wicked” or Korean productions of licensed works such as “Elisabeth” were the most popular in Korea last year. No domestic creative musical made it into the box office top 10.

Last year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism allocated 3 billion won ($2.8 million) to the Creative Musical Production Development Project and provided 200 million to 400 million won for 10 creative productions. It will continue this year as well.

Large entertainment agencies, such as CJ E&M, also run supporting programs to discover musical talent.

Producers have started turning their attention to creative musicals due to the high royalties they have to pay to bring in licensed musicals.

Korean audiences are also somewhat lukewarm about licensed musicals that are awkward to listen in Korean language.

Now is the time for the creative artists to improve the Korean musical.


By Choi Min-woo [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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