And now it is time for our first Arts & Culture
segment of the week with Lee Tae Ho, and today Tae Ho takes a look at the musical theater
industry that is currently booming here in Korea. Good afternoon, Tae Ho. Good afternoon, Conn-young. So, you’ll be telling us how the musical theater
industry is looking today? That’s right Today we start the week off with
a look at who in Korea watches the most musicals… and where they go to watch them. “December,” “The Three Musketeers,” “Man of
La Mancha,” “Ghost,” and “Mama Mia.” These are the five hottest selling musicals
in Korea this holiday season, according to the online ticketing site PlayDB.
And according to a recent New York Times article, musicals are booming — no, not on Broadway
and not even off-Broadway, but right here in Seoul.
Statistics on musical theater audiences from last year, provided by the Ministry of Culture,
Sports and Tourism, definitely back this up. The data also shows who is watching and where
in the country musicals are most popular. Here in the Seoul metropolitan area, 16 residents
in 100 said they saw a musical last year. Of the 16, 10 said they saw at least one musical…
and about six people in 100 said they saw at least two or more musicals last year. Seoulites were followed very closely by people
who live in the Chungcheong provinces as the people in Korea who watch the most musicals.
In Chungcheong-do, 15 people in 100 say they saw a musical last year, with roughly 8 in
15 saying they saw at least one musical. But more Chungcheong residents than Seoulites
saw two or more musicals last year, with roughly seven of the 15 saying that they saw two or
more productions during the year. Looking at the rest of the country, people
in the southeast and southwestern part of the country saw the fewest musicals, with
only about four in 100 having seen a musical last year. Looking at the demographics, it seems that
more and more young people are seeing these productions,
with roughly 14 percent of teens and 17 percent of twenty- and thirty-somethings saying that
they saw at least one musical in 2012. Now, more young people may be watching musicals,
but that is not to say that middle-aged people aren’t.
12 percent of people in their forties and 8 percent of people in their fifties say that
they saw at least one musical last year. And more women saw musicals than men did last
year, with roughly 14 percent of women and 9 percent
of men saying that they saw at least one musical during the year. Now, all of this bodes well for the roughly
300 theaters in Seoul, which happens to be the same number of theaters in New York.
Seoul has more venues than any other city in Korea, which is perhaps one of the major
reasons why Seoulites saw more musicals than people in other parts of the country.
Another reason probably has something to do with the socioeconomic gap between the people
in Seoul and the rest of Korea. In any case, there’s no doubt that musicals
are gaining ground here — indicating that for all that Broadway has to offer Korea,
Korea may just have something give in return. Well, it certainly seems like musicals are
in the spotlight these days, and I’d say that one of the big draws for Korean productions
is the casting. That’s right. Musicals are taking a page from
Korean dramas by casting K-pop stars to draw new fans to the theater.
For instance, “Three Musketeers” features Jun K of the group 2PM and “December” stars
Kim Jun-su of the group JYJ — ensuring that lots of their fans will be lining up for tickets. Well, that does seem like a very good way
to draw fans from not just here in Korea, but from visiting tourists who are also fans
of K-pop. Definitely a great way to target an international
audience. But a lot of the stories and subject matter
of these productions seem very Western in nature. Doesn’t this make it more difficult
for foreign productions to succeed here? Well, most of these musicals have been re-imagined
to fit a Korean audience… and they’ve done such a good job that audiences in Korea seem
to have no difficulty accepting the stories. Also, the Korean performers do an excellent
job of conveying the story. I experienced that while watching “Man of
La Mancha,” which I previewed weeks ago during this segment. I suppose that says a great deal about Korean
producers and their talent for catering to Korean audiences. It really does, but with so many licensed
productions brought into Korea because of their name recognition, it’s unfortunate that
there are not more homegrown productions, because I think that they would do very well,
too. For instance, the number one musical in terms
of ticket sales is “December,” which was created here in Korea. Well, hopefully we’ll start to see more and
more Korean productions. Thank you, Tae Ho, and we’ll see you again
tomorrow. Alright. Have a wonderful afternoon.