Why the KPOP Musical Flop?

The first Broadway musical centred on Korean pop culture, “KPOP,” has closed after just 44 preview performances and 17 regular performances. In this feature article, we explore the reasons behind the show’s early closure and the challenges of opening a new original musical on Broadway.

The Story

“KPOP” was a high-energy spectacle that drew inspiration from the Korean pop music phenomenon. The show featured songs from Helen Park, the first female Asian composer on Broadway. However, nine days after its opening to mixed reviews, the producers announced that the show would take its final bow after just 44 preview performances and 17 regular performances.

What Went Wrong?

  • Opening a new original musical is particularly difficult at this time. “KPOP” was not an adaptation or a revival, making it a rare original production. In the current post-pandemic Broadway landscape, “KPOP” faced tough competition from jukebox musicals, revivals, and existing intellectual property.
  • Audience turnout was not sufficient. While the audiences who attended the show enjoyed it, “KPOP” was not able to get enough people to come. Positive momentum was disrupted by COVID and other illnesses that led to show cancellations.
  • The show’s newness and unfamiliarity may have affected preconceptions towards the show. While K-pop as a genre is known, people’s limited experience with the genre probably affected their preconceptions towards the show. Additionally, the fact that “KPOP” was brand new in every way, with no big Broadway names or superstars, might have made it less attractive to potential audiences.
  • Telling a contemporary Asian story is still a challenge. Asian people may account for the majority of the world’s population, yet Asian stories on stage are often limited to war, historical events, and being saved by white people. Despite this, “KPOP” attempted to bravely tell a story that was authentic and true to the experiences of the creators.

Looking Back

When asked about whether there was anything they wished might have been done differently, the producers admitted that they were too close to the situation to analyze it objectively. However, they did note that the typical promotional and advertising strategies for a Broadway show did not seem to have the usual effect.


“KPOP” may have been an original and groundbreaking musical, but it was unable to find a significant audience in the current Broadway landscape. As the post-pandemic theatre industry continues to evolve, new challenges and opportunities will arise, and it remains to be seen how this will affect the fate of original productions like “KPOP.”

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