"Billy Elliot" to debut in South Korea

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The Independent Culture

A hit musical set in a gritty mining village in northeast England is coming to South Korea for its first foreign-language production, promoters said Tuesday.

"Billy Elliot", the story of a miner's son who overcomes prejudice and hardships to become a professional ballet dancer, will be staged in South Korea starting in August.

Following productions in Britain, Australia and the United States, the Korean promoters began auditions one year ago and had more than 800 applicants.

Eventually they selected four young Koreans to alternate in the role of Billy. Kim Se-Yong, 13, said he wants his portrayal to be better than his Australian or British counterparts.

Producer Moon Mi-Ho said the Korean version would be the same as elsewhere except for the show's Geordie slang and strong language, which would be paraphrased.

"Billy Elliot" is set in County Durham at the time of Britain's 1984/85 miners' strike, when pickets clashed violently with police.

"A coal town in northern Britain as the background may seem distant for Koreans, but Korea had similar coal towns a few decades ago," said Moon.

"Considering the similar history, I think audiences will easily identify with the show."

The 2000 movie was nominated for an Oscar. The musical produced in 2005 has attracted a total international audience of 4.2 million at more than 2,000 performances.

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