Broadway Training, Gangnam Style – The New York Times

Not every audience member will have the same experience or encounter the same characters. So here’s a chance to meet six “KPOP” performers. And true to the art form, some are experienced, others are novices, and not all of them are Korean.

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Jason Tam, who doesn’t speak Korean, learned his songs by sounding them out.

Credit
Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Jason Tam

PORTRAYS Epic, a performer in the five-member boy band F8 (pronounced “fate”). Half-Korean, half-American, he was brought in “to make the band viable in America,” said Mr. Tam, causing tensions with his bandmates, who are all Korean.

INSPIRED BY Justin Timberlake and Exo, a boy band that performs in Korean and Mandarin.

KOREAN? No. Mr. Tam is Chinese, Hawaiian and Caucasian. He learned the Korean songs in the show by recording himself on his iPhone and “listening and adjusting accordingly.”

PREPARATION A weeklong cast boot camp, eight-hour days that included body conditioning, “swag” exercises and learning four songs a day. “There’s a lot of drilling, more than in regular musical theater,” said Mr. Tam, who has been on Broadway in “A Chorus Line, among other shows. “They make it look so easy, but it takes so much blood, sweat and tears that you don’t see.”

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Jinwoo Jung portrays a member of the boy band F8.

Credit
Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Jinwoo Jung

PORTRAYS Oracle, a member of F8 who objects to the group’s attempts to be more “Americanized.”

INSPIRED BY The chance to pursue a lifelong dream. “K-pop was something I always yearned for and I was never brave enough to reach out to,” he said, citing the rigorous training. He became an actor instead.

KOREAN? Yes; Mr. Jung was born in South Korea and moved to the United States five years ago.

PREPARATION Watches videos of live performances by Big Bang, a K-pop boy band, before he goes on: “I always want to have their attitude.”

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Deborah Kim, center, plays a rapper in the girl group Special K.

Credit
Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Deborah Kim

PORTRAYS XO, a member of the six-member girl group Special K. “She’s the rapper, like a bad bitch,” Ms. Kim said.

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