2AM’s Jo Kwon Publicly Sides With Musical Theatre Actors Over Fin.K.L’s Ok Joo Hyun

“We will no longer just watch the desecration of the stage we’ve worked years to protect…”

Previously it was reported that there is currently more drama in Korea’s musical theatre industry off the stage than on one.

From left: Kim Ho Young, Jung Sun Ah (top) Shin Young Sook (bottom) Ok Joo Hyun (right) |

To recap, first-generation K-Pop idol Ok Joo Hyun of the legendary group Fin.K.L was called out by her once best-friend musical theatre actor Kim Ho Young.

Kim Ho Young insinuated on his Instagram that the former idol influenced the casting of the upcoming Musical Theatre Drama Elizabeth so that producers cast those closest to her.

Kim Young Ho’s Instagram story where he calls the Musical Industry a “Jade” mat. Many felt “Jade” pronounced “Ok” in Korean is a play on words for Ok Joo Hyun, and the mat is describing the industry, hinting at the actress’s influence in the industry | @hoyhoyoung/Instagram

Ok Joo Hyun then sued Kim Ho Young for defamation. Ok Joo Hyun’s side rebuked the allegations and stated Kim Ho Young’s insinuations tarnished her reputation.

Kim Ho Young then revealed that he would be countersuing Ok Joo Hyun. To add insult to injury, two of the biggest musical theatre actors, Shin Young Sook and Jung Sun Ah unfollowed Ok Joo Hyun.

Poster for Elizabeth the musical | EMK

Netizens were especially shocked at Jung Sun Ah unfollowing Ok Joo Hyun since she is known as one of the first musical theatre actors to embrace Ok Joo Hyun when she first started to appear in musicals.

Jung Sun Ah | Maeil Economy

Well, on June 23, things really hit the fan when first-generation musical stars Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Korea’s most recognized musical theatre director and producer Kolleen Park jointly released a statement to quell all the drama.

Nam Kyung Joo | Busan Ilbo

But before that, it is important that readers understand a uniquely Korean social dynamic in play regarding sunbaes and hoobaes. Sunbae means someone who has come before one in a specific industry, such as in a profession, industry, or school. Hoobaes are those that come after one. In Korean society, it is expected that Sunbaes lead and guide and for hoobaes to follow and learn to become good sunbaes to hoobaes of their own.

An unrelated picture for illustrating sunbae (left) and hoobaes (right) | Jobaba

The actors start by expressing their remorse for the current situation between actors.

Regarding the recent lawsuits in the musical theatre industry, many who love musical theatre, such as actors, staff members, and producers, feel remorseful and responsible. Especially we, first-generation actors, feel most responsible.

— Joint statement by Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park

Choi Jung Won | Hankook Ilbo

The actors then emphasized the importance of transparency and cohesiveness among all parties involved in musical theatre.

For one musical theatre show to meet audiences, there is so much work that must be done, and it is important that we upkeep decorum within our roles.

— Joint statement by Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park

Kolleen Park in Musical “Chicago” | newdaily

The actors then described each party necessary for a successful show and the roles they must fulfill.

1. Actors must work tirelessly to express their creativity and concepts. The ensemble is most important for a show’s success, so actors must love and respect one another, helping to create a positive environment.

2. Staff must facilitate space and an environment for the actors to practice, as well as create the best stages for actors. It is important to listen to actors, but staff must maintain objectivity as to avoid favoring one actor over another. Also, staff must treat all actors fairly and work to keep the safety of actors on stage.

3. Production teams must keep the promises to actors and not make promises they are unable to keep. They must treat all staff and actors fairly and work tirelessly to create an environment in which everyone involved in the show can take pride.

— Joint statement by Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park

Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park then went on to take responsibility for the current breakdown of roles and vowed to work hard to rebuild them.

The current state of the industry is due to the breakdown of these roles. To this end, we sunbaes are to blame for neglecting them ourselves.

We will no longer just watch the desecration of the stage we’ve worked years to protect. We will work hard to stop unfair practices and fix them.

— Joint statement by Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park

The first-generation actors then asked for their fellow colleagues and co-workers to join them in rebuilding the industry.

We ask that all those involved in the musical theatre industry join us. Only when we do the work will we be able to put on a great show that we can be proud of.

— Joint statement by Nam Kyung Joo, Choi Jung Won, and Kolleen Park

Many of musical theatre’s biggest stars pledged to help, including the aforementioned Jung Sun Ah, actor Choi Jae Rim, and arguably the industry’s most recognizable actor Kim So Hyun.

Actor Choi Jae Rim in Musical “Hades Town” | LG Art Center
Kim So Hyun | @theqoo

Legendary musical and rising film actor Cha Ji Yeon made news when she made an Instagram account just to take part in the pledge.

Cha Ji Yeon in upcoming K-Drama “Remarriage & Desires” | Netflix

Not lost on netizens was 2AM Jo Kwon‘s public support for the actors. The former idol wrote his support on none other than musical theatre actress Jung Sun Ah’s feed.

As your musical theatre hoobae, I agree with my sunbaenim‘s words, and I am rooting for you, encouraging you, and love you. (sic)

— Jo Kwon

Jo Kwon publicly taking Jung Sun Ah’s side is significant as although he is now flourishing as a musical theatre actor, he is the direct hoobae of Ok Joo Hyun.

Jo Kwon |

Netizens applauded the actors coming together. In a viral post that has been viewed over 450K times, netizens expressed their approval.

  • “It’s difficult for even top actors to expose the industry, but Kim Ho Young did something extraordinary.”
  • “Ok Joo Hyun’s reputation will change forever after this…”
  • “I don’t understand those that curse at Kim Ho Young for exposing her… If you punish the whistleblower, who will stand up to injustice?”
  • “With musical theatre’s top actors like Kolleen Park, Choi Jae Rim, and Jung Sun Ah siding with Kim Ho Young, I think the game’s over.”
Source: Nate Pann, Huffington Post and Hankyung