One Minute World Arts- KPOP: A New Broadway Musical Celebrating Korean Pop Culture

After going through a long process of conceiving, and a 2017 off-Broadway edition with an immersive style, KPOP, a new musical created to showcase Korean pop music, finally opened on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre in November 2022, this time in a more traditional song-and-dance style. KPOP is the first American Broadway musical that highlights the culture of Korean pop music, with a clear focus set upon the harsh training, heavy pressure, and tremendous sacrifice made for gaining fame and success – very often unknown to the public. In recent years, the Korean Wave, driven by the spread of Korean drama and pop music, has become a global phenomenon. Entertainment products from South Korea such as BTS and the Oscar-winning movie Parasite have strengthened American people’s general impression of Korean cultural and creative industry. Now, with this new musical being presented on Broadway, it is expected that more and more audiences shall be able to break free from racial and cultural barriers, and embrace the great charm of Korean pop. 


Helen Park, composer of KPOP, began to create music for the piece in 2014 after witnessing the unprecedented popularity of Psy’s Gangnam Style around the world: on the one hand, she felt inspired by the potential of Korean pop music; on the other, she was worried that people’s taste in Korean pop music might be restricted to what Psy’s song had delivered. Hoping to open up new possibilities, Park wrote music for KPOP, and the work soon turned into a milestone, with Park herself making the record as being the first female Asian composer to write music for a Broadway musical. Meanwhile, almost all the members of the musical’s cast and crew are Asian, celebrating the racial diversity within the performing arts circle, as well as assuring the authenticity of cultural representation. Furthermore, it is worthy of mention that the show’s playbill is of a unique style, with English and Korean information printed side by side; it not only reflects the common feature that lyrics of Korean pop songs are often mixed with English words, but also signifies the magic of K-pop that transcends the boundaries between different languages and cultures. 




歷經長期構思、2017年首度於外百老匯以沉浸式音樂劇的面貌與觀眾見面後,韓國流行樂音樂劇《KPOP》終於在今年11月下旬,成功攻進百老匯,採歌舞表演的形式,登上廣場環形劇院(Circle in the Square Theatre)的舞台。




該劇作曲家朴海倫(Helen Park),有感於韓國大叔Psy的《江南Style》在世界各地爆紅,遂於2014年著手譜寫《KPOP》,希望進一步打開大眾對韓國流行音樂的想像;作品推出後,迅速在百老匯豎立了幾座里程碑:除了朴海倫本身成了百老匯首位女性亞裔音樂劇作曲家之外,本劇絕大多數的卡司成員與工作人員也都是亞裔,藉以凸顯表演藝術界的族群多樣性,並確保特定族群文化可以被忠實呈現。再者,《KPOP》的節目單更是獨具一格,以英文、韓文雙語並列的模式,呼應韓國流行音樂歌詞經常揉雜英文語句的現象,同時也象徵著韓流音樂超越語言及文化隔閡的神奇力量。



Photo Credit ©O+M / DKC via AP, Sara Krulwich, KPOP The Musical on Broadway