By Kwon Mee-yoo
The musical “Death Note” returns to Seoul after two years, as well as its star Kim Jun-su from JYJ. Kim will bid farewell for the time being with this show as he will start his mandatory military service next year.
The musical premiered in Japan in April 2015 and made a successful debut in Korea three months later. Featuring music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy from a story by by Ivan Menchel, the musical revolves around a fierce battle of wits between Light Yagami, a high school student who metes out his own justice, and Detective L, who tries to put a stop to him.
The show relies the most heavily on Kim, who plays the eccentric Detective L.
Kim, who debuted in SM Entertainment’s five-member boy band TVXQ in 2003, left the company to form a trio JYJ with two other former TVXQ members Jaejoong and Yoochun. Amid difficulties in appearing on television shows, Kim made a brilliant debut as a musical actor in “Mozart!” in 2010, becoming a definite game changer in Korean theater. All tickets for his shows were sold out and he soon became highly sought-after among theater producers. Kim’s agency C-JeS Entertainment entered the theater industry in 2015, producing “Death Note” and “Dorian Gray.”
Kim was praised for his portrayal of L in 2015 with his signature metallic voice and his concentration on the character. He said he is now putting in even more effort to develop the character, prior to his military service.
“Entering the military service is not the end of my life, but I wanted to make a clean finish before joining the army so I chose to star in a musical. I am grateful to take part in the musical,” Kim said. “I have fond memories regarding the Korean premiere of Death Note and want to share the joy with those who love musical theater as well as the original comics. The plot will also relieve pressure people feel in the current political situations.”
In this production, helmed by Japanese director Tamiya Kuriyama, Han Ji-sang plays Light, the ambitious schoolboy who believes that he can change the world. Light kills criminals with his “God of Death” notebook, which enables the user to kill anyone by writing their name in it.
Han is an A-list musical actor who has taken on various roles including the elusive Gabe in “Next to Normal,” Henry/Creature in “Frankenstein” and Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He recently expanded his boundaries to the small screen, and vowed to show a different side from his role in the recent drama series “Working Mom Parenting Daddy.”
“There is no right answer in acting. Another actor in the same role will bring out different results and I will act out my Light,” Han said, mentioning that he saw the premiere of “Death Note” thanks to Hong Kwang-ho, a friend of Han’s who originally played the role of Light in Korea.
Han complimented Kim’s uniqueness as one out of 7 billion. “I have these feelings of love and hatred toward Kim. I first met him when we filmed a music video and he was like a man emerging from the comics. It was a pleasant blow and I’m preparing carefully for this formidable competitor,” Han said.
Along with Han, singer Ben joins the show as Misa, a famous singer who falls in love with Light. The two Death Gods are played by the same actors as in the premiere _ Kang Hong-seok as Ryuk and Park Hye-na as Rem.
Kim said the changes in the cast will bring new chemistry to the show. “The subtlety of musical theater comes from detailed changes from conditions, attitudes and harmonies with counterparts,” Kim said.
The musical “Death Note” is on a limited run from Jan. 3 to 26 at the Opera Theater of the Seoul Arts Center. Tickets cost from 60,000 to 140,000 won. For more information, visit http://www.cjesculture.com or call 1577-3363.