More K-pop singers take center stage in musicals

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By Dong Sun-hwa

More K-pop singers take center stage in musicals

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Lovelyz’s Kei / Courtesy of Palmtree Island

A growing number of K-pop stars are broadening their horizons by moving into musicals as well.

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Kei, a member of K-pop girl group Lovelyz that dropped a string of hits such as “Ah-Choo” (2015), recently inked an exclusive contract with Palmtree Island that represents numerous big-name musical stars like Kim So-hyun, Jin Tae-hwa and Jung Sun-ah. Kei had been managed by Woollim Entertainment since her debut in 2014, but she ended her contract with the agency last November.

“Following an in-depth discussion, we decided to team up with Kei, a singer famed for her musical talent and diverse charms, and give her full support so that she can mark a new beginning in her life as a musical actress,” the company said in a statement.

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Prior to joining Palmtree, Kei appeared in two musicals: “Around Thirties” (2017) and “Midnight Sun” (2021).

The company added that Kei will play Queen Guinevere in an encore performance of the musical “Excalibur” that will be staged at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul, Jan. 29. It is an original production by EMK Musical Company, which is a reinterpretation of the tale of Arthur, the mythical British king who fought against the Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Guinevere is the king’s wife and a fearless warrior with amazing archery skills.

The 26-year-old is also set to take the role of Misa in the upcoming musical “Death Note,” which will hit the stage in April. This is the third time for “Death Note” to be performed in Korea since its premier in 2015. Based on the Japanese comic of the same title, the musical revolves around a genius high school student named Light, who uses a mysterious notebook to destroy evil forces after discovering that it can kill people if their names are written in it. In the story, Misa is a famous model who supports Light.

More K-pop singers take center stage in musicals

Kim Jun-su / Courtesy of Palmtree Island

Kei, however, is not the only K-pop singer who has dived into the realm of musical theater to expand her career. One of her predecessors is Kim Jun-su, the founder of her new management company and a former member of K-pop boy group TVXQ that debuted in 2003. Kim, who starred in a series of hit musicals including “Dracula” (2014, 2016, 2020) is often pointed to as one of the most successful musical actors who has paved the way for other K-pop stars.

Kim made his musical debut in “Mozart” in 2010, shortly after departing from TVXQ. Although he basked in immense popularity as part of the group, which is known for its hits like “Mirotic” (2008), he quit the act along with two other members ― Kim Jae-joong and Park Yoo-chun ― following a legal dispute with the group’s record label SM Entertainment.

Yet Kim entered his second heyday thanks to musicals. Armed with vocal bravura and nuanced acting, he enthralled the audience in some of the most popular musicals such as “Elisabeth,” becoming a sought-after musical actor who, if headlining, can see tickets to a show sold out within a few minutes. Over the past 10 years, Kim performed on stage about 400 times.

“In the past, people gave the cold shoulder to K-pop singers starring in musicals, as they had some prejudice against them,” Kim said in 2020. “But that made me work even harder and thankfully, a lot of things have changed now.”

These days, countless K-pop stars including Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, INFINITE’s Sungkyu, 2PM’s Jun. K and f(x)’s Luna are playing central roles in a number of musicals. For musical production companies, having K-pop singers in their cast helps them promote their shows globally. Many of them also believe that these singers’ talents can elevate the quality of their performances to the next level.

“Well-trained K-pop stars already know how to command the stage and many of them actually excel in analyzing their scripts,” a musical production company official told Hankook Ilbo, the sister publication of The Korea Times.

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