New York Times (12/08/13) Healy, Patrick; Lee, Su Hyun
An insatiable appetite for American musicals has made South Korea a hotspot for such productions, especially among young women raised on bombastic Korean pop and TV soap operas. Ticket sales to U.S. and European musicals have skyrocketed from $9 million in 2000 to an estimated $300 million in 2013. Even musicals that had disappointing runs stateside are having their lives extended in the Korean market. Seoul is home to 300 theaters, and more are being built to handle an ever-growing population of fans. "Seoul has become incredibly important in the lives of many musicals, something none of us would've said or predicted a decade ago," notes producer Judy Craymer. Contributing to strong sales is a youthful audience that tends to not only earn good salaries, but also live with their parents until marriage, which means they have money to spend on tickets. "Right now, Seoul is the major market, ever since the economic recession cooled theater activity in Japan," says Dodger Theatricals' Edward Strong. "And we want to learn from our experience in Seoul and take that knowledge elsewhere in Asia." Despite concerns of market oversaturation and significant monetary losses, people continue to produce musicals in South Korea because "enough are making money that everyone still wants to be big in the market," says producer Seol Doyun.