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New musical brings high-energy world of K-pop to Broadway





There are some familiar storylines in a new musical opening on Broadway — a singer and her relationship with the mentor who guided her; a newcomer trying to find his place; young women chasing their dreams.

But they’ve never sounded quite like this.

The global sensation that is Korean pop music is coming to centre stage in “KPOP,” opening Sunday at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre.

With an almost entirely Asian American and Asian cast, many of whom are making their Broadway debuts, the musical is set as a backstage look at some K-pop performers as they get ready for their debut show in New York City.

Conflicts break out and get resolved, ending in a concert-like performance.

The show’s Broadway arrival has been a long time coming for playwright Jason Kim, who first conceived of a play around K-pop about a decade ago and staged an off-Broadway version in 2017, with music and lyrics composed by Helen Park and Max Vernon.

In the initial stage version of the show, Kim was introducing the machine of K-pop to an American audience largely unfamiliar with it — five years later, it’s been rewritten for a world where K-pop musical heavy-hitters like BTS and Blackpink are pop chart mainstays, amid a slew of other Korean entertainment in movies and television like “Squid Games” becoming more popular.

Kim calls the timing “really serendipitous.”

He adds, it’s been really profound and moving to watch the world shift in this way.

Robert Ji-Song Ku, an associate professor of Asian American studies at Binghamton University says a broadway musical showcasing the sounds of K-pop is a sign of how “the U-S is finally catching up with what was already going on around the world.”

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