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Musical weeks kick off with international market and festival

K-Musical Market promotes homegrown productions in Daehangno; DIMF showcases quality musicals in Daegu

June 19, 2024 - 14:16 By Park Ga-young

(Clockwise from top) "Fanletter," "Swag Age: Shout out, Joseon!," "Flyhigh, Taekwondo" and "KiKi's Borderline Personality Disorder Diary" are among 30 works selected to be introduced to overseas investors during K-Musical Market 2024 taking place Tuesday to Saturday.

Musicals are at the center of attention this week as two major events bring together domestic and international musical production companies, performers, experts and investors in Seoul and Daegu.

On Tuesday, the K-Musical Market, an annual event launched in 2021 to promote Korean original musicals internationally, kicked off with a forum on the latest trends in musical markets in Asia. The event serves as a platform for participants to share information on overseas expansion, local development, licensing agreements and attracting investments. This year, 30 works selected through a preliminary public offering will be introduced to overseas investors in Seoul’s Daehangno, known as the country’s mecca of performing arts and culture.

Eight works, including "Seopyeonje," "Vanishing," "Human Exploration Life," "Burn the Witch," "Fanletter," "Swag Age: Shout Out, Joseon!," "Flyhigh, Taekwondo" and "KiKi's Borderline Personality Disorder Diary," have been selected for the showcase presentation, where performances are directly presented to investors. Additionally, a total of 22 works, including "Marine Baseball King" and "Crow Forest," will be introduced to investors through presentations. Seventeen works will be chosen as outstanding pieces and will receive follow-up support, including showcase performances, connections with industry professionals and script localization in locations such as London's West End, Taipei and Tokyo.

The organizer, the Korea Arts Management Service, has prepared forums and lectures discussing the overseas expansion of Korean musicals, new work development in the US and UK production theaters, as well as sessions on trends in Broadway and China.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Chun Byong-geuk, the first vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, noted, "There was a great achievement with musical 'The Great Gatsby' advancing to Broadway in the US and winning a Tony Award. The government will continue various support projects to revitalize K-musical creation and expand overseas distribution."

Produced by OD Company Chief Producer Shin Chun-sool, “The Great Gatsby” officially opened on Broadway in April. On Monday, the musical’s costume designer, Linda Cho, won a Tony Award for best costume design in a musical.

Participants of the 17th Daegu International Musical Festival pose for photos after the DIMF Awards on June 5, 2023 in Daegu. (DIMF)

Meanwhile, in Daegu, about 280 kilometers from the capital, the Daegu International Musical Festival is set to kick off its 18th edition, with the Korean premiere of “Holidays,” a French jukebox musical based on Madonna's hit songs, at Daegu Opera House on Friday.

During the 15-day festival running until July 8, the DIMF will transform the city of Daegu into a vibrant musical hub, showcasing a total of 19 musicals from six countries at various venues, including Daegu Opera House, Kolon Outdoors Music Hall, Suseong Artpia, Daeduk Cultural Center, Culture and Arts Theater CT, Seogu Cultural Center, Ayang Art Center and Dalseo Art Center.

Other official invitees include “Slapstic-Scherzo” from the Netherlands, “The Lion” from the UK and “Attack on Titan,” a Japanese musical based on the popular manga series of the same title, which will be introduced via video. From Korea, “Battle of the Princes,” “Missing Link” and “After Life” have been invited for showcase.

Two musicals -- “Singing in the Rain” from the US and “Flying Apsaras” from China -- will close the festival.

This year’s iteration will introduce six new original musicals: “Dandelion Flute,” “The Story of a Ghost that Came in Dead of Night,” “Sound Musical Mowgli,” "PAGE:NA,” “Sisyphus” and “Imaginary,” all created through the 18th DIMF Original Musical Creation Support Project. A talk show will be held for each production to enhance understanding of the new works.

As a special event, “Dreamers,” a musical featuring actors with developmental disabilities, will tell a fantasy story of a father’s journey to accepting his daughter’s disability through a dream in which he goes out to look for his lost daughter.

The festival also provides stages for aspiring students hoping to become musical stars with the DIMF College Musical Festival. A total of eight college productions, including one from China, are scheduled to be presented from June 21 to July 8. The best performance will be honored at the DIMF Awards.

To help foster talent for the musical industry, the DIMF Musical Academy, in its 10th edition, has selected 24 trainers for the creator course and another 24 for the acting course, for a 9-month training program that will help participants pursue careers as playwrights, composers or actors.

The festival will wrap up on July 8 with the DIMF Awards, celebrating the best performances presented in the festival.

Hosted by the city of Daegu, the annual event was established in 2006 to promote the city as a musical hub of Asia.