In 2011, Korea was filled with performances to see and enjoy, and original Korean performances received accolades abroad.
In August, the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, invited more Korean performances than ever before. They included those by the theatre troupe Mokhwa[목화] and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra led by conductor Chung Myun-whun [정명훈].
The popular movie "Black Swan" and a comedy corner centered on the ballerino costume has helped ballet come closer to audiences of all ages.
[Interview : Go Jeong-min, Professor of Culture and Arts MBA Hongik University] "2011 was overall a year of ballet. In the case of musicals, licensed pieces maintained their dominant place in the market, but some original pieces also were very successful".
Another development in 2011 was that original Korean musicals began to establish their own fan base.
[Interview : Park Byeong-seong, Editor "The Musical"] "In terms of sales, licensed pieces still led the market, but in smaller theaters we are slowly seeing the emergence of original musicals that can compete with licensed musicals".
The late Lee Yeong-hun [이영훈] was a composer whose songs touched the hearts of many Koreans. His best songs were compiled into the musical "Gwanghwamun Sonata", and the musical became an instant success, proving that original Korean musicals could succeed in the market.
[Interview : Kim Seul-gi, Audience member] "It was very exciting. The actors did hand gestures like these".
[Interview : Yu Su-jin, Audience member] "I got up and jumped like this".
So-called "jukebox musicals", which compiled popular music to fit a storyline, continued to emerge in Korea.
Open-run performances continued their success this year. 2011 was a year that gave a boost to original musicals.
[Interview : Park Byeong-seong, Editor "The Musical"] "Musicals like "Sherlock Holmes" and "Moby Dick" were able to make profits from their first performances, albeit in smaller theaters. It's not easy to see profits from a first run, but these two were selling out near the end of their runs".
Another interesting pattern in 2011 was that TV dramas were adapted into musicals.
[Interview : Lee Seul-gi, Audience member] "I'm curious to see how the piece changed. I think it'll be fun".
[Interview : Lee Ji-seon, Audience member] "I didn't watch the TV drama "Winter Sonata" regularly, but the musical was so much fun. My children had a great time as well".
These performances bring back the emotion of the original TV production. Audience members were eager to come and watch another rendition of their favorite dramas.
[Interview : Oh Young-jin, Producer Musical "Winter Sonata"] "We thought that "Winter Sonata" would be more accessible to various audiences because musicals are one of the best-known forms of performing arts. We also felt that the acting would be upgraded by the addition of music".
In 2011, idol stars made a big dent in the musical industry! More idols starred in musicals than ever, and helped to boost ticket sales among their fans.
[Interview : Kim Mun-hui, Seoul resident] "I think it'd be worth watching if the actors are talented".
[Interview : Kim Ji-hye, Seoul resident] "I really want to see the musical "Fame", starring Tiffany from Girls' Generation".
This trend led to more Korean musicals being exported abroad. Musicals starring Hallyu idol stars immediately became Hallyu content in their own right.
[Interview : Park Byeong-seong, Editor "The Musical"] "As the idol singer market grew, singing in musicals became a kind of competition and an important appeal of pop idol stars. This year, we saw the catch phrase "Musical Hallyu", which refers to the phenomenon where K-pop stars sing in musicals and make that musical a success, even abroad".
But the star power of K-pop idols wasn't all that made Korean original musicals a success.
[Interview : Kim Yu-jeong, Audience member] ""Laundry" was so much fun".
"Laundry" is a musical without Hallyu stars or pop idols. On an open run since 2005, "Laundry" will officially begin its run in Japan next February.
[Interview : ] "Let's shake off our worries like the dust around us".
[Interview : Jeong Hyeon-ju, Audience member] "I was very nervous when I made eye contact with the actors. And despite being a small-scale production, I was very moved by it".
[Interview : Kim Yeon-ji, Audience member] "I always wonder why we don't see musical actors on TV. It's strange".
[Interview : Park Hye-won, Audience member] "It's wonderful. I'm so proud. Korean actors do so well on stage, and are so talented. They'll be successful no matter where they go".
Performances that combined traditional Korean music with modern stage direction were also a big hit. The traditional sounds of pansori hit a universal chord this year, resonating with Koreans and the rest of the world.
[Interview : PD] " How do you think traditional Korean pansori was able to touch the hearts of the world[Interview : Ahn Suk-seon, Pansori singer] "Pansori has so much material that could create that kind of connection with the world, and so despite pansori's very distinct Korean color, people all over the world can relate to the stories and music".
Original Korean pansori musicals made their first leap into the world this year. The pansori opera "Mr. Rabbit and the Dragon King"'s first performance sold out immediately.
[Interview : Yoo Yeong-dae, Artistic director The National Changgeuk Company of Korea] "It won't be long before the world will see and love the significance of the Korean content called "pansori", and the musical theater that is created with pansori music. That's what I think. That's what I anticipate".
Korean changgeuk[창극], a combination of satire and entertainment, arrived in Germany. "Mr. Rabbit and the Dragon King" completed its first performance abroad to a standing ovation, paving the way to other Korean changgeuk.
Don't be too disappointed if you missed these wonderful performances this year. More exciting performances are sure to come your way in 2012!
[Interview : Park Byeong-seong, Editor "The Musical"] "There were many theaters built recently just for musicals, and now large-scale performances of foreign musicals can take place here in Korea. The market now has higher expectations for musicals".
In 2012, masterpieces with great sets and amazing cast members will come to Korea! We look forward to an even more dynamic year in the performance world.
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