Broadway’s “KPOP: The Musical” called for an apology by The New York Times following an allegedly racist review written by the paper’s theater critic, Jesse Green.
The show’s producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes on Friday released their letter to the Times which described Green’s review as “culturally insensitive” and as containing an “underlying ignorance of and distaste for K-pop as a genre.”
“KPOP: The Musical” is a behind-the-scenes story of the K-pop industry and the makings of its stars. It features actual K-pop stars in lead roles such as Luna of girl group f(x), Kevin Woo from boy band U-Kiss, Min from Miss A and Bo-hyung from girl group Spica.
Green writes in his review that “those who aren’t hard-core fans of the genre or don’t understand Korean — let alone those who saw the radically different and far superior Off-Broadway version in 2017 — will have a harder time enjoying this one.”
The show’s book is primarily in English but does include some Korean lyrics and lines.
In response, “Is a Broadway show valid only if it is centered on and catering exclusively to a white, English-speaking audience?” wrote the producers in their letter to the Times.
The letter continues, “Mr. Green criticizes the ‘mostly electronic arrangements’ when that is the K-pop genre; he criticizes the ‘minutely detailed choreography’ when that is a hallmark of K-pop; he implicitly criticizes the costume design that embodies the K-pop style. That he doesn’t like these elements or this genre is his prerogative as a critic, but he appears to deny their very legitimacy as part of a Broadway musical, an implicit assertion of traditional white cultural supremacy.”
The New York Times has not officially responded to the claims of racism, but, according to American news outlet The Daily Beast, the Times has told its confiders that its editors reviewed the article and found it “more than fair,” adding that “we wholly disagree with the argument that Jesse’s criticism is somehow racist.”
“KPOP: The Musical” opened in New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre on Nov. 27. It is directed by Teddy Bergman; written by Jason Kim; choreographed by Jennifer Weber; and the musical score and lyrics were written by Max Vernon.
BY LEE JIAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]