The New York Times has responded to online backlash following Jesse Green's review of Broadway's KPOP, which the show's producers have described as displaying "casual racism." The statement, provided to The Daily Beast, follows social media backlash from the KPOP company and a formal request for an apology from producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes.
"We saw the open letter written about The Times’s review of KPOP and quickly convened a discussion among editors and members of our standards department," reads the statement from The Times' Communications team. "This group was in agreement that Jesse’s review was fair. More importantly, we wholly disagree with the argument that Jesse’s criticism is somehow racist. We always welcome feedback and reaction to our journalism, and have conveyed a similar reply to the producers who wrote the open letter."
Jesse Green declined to comment in a December 6 email to Playbill, referring us instead to the above statement.
The musical, which opened at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre November 27, is a behind-the-scenes look at the worldwide K-pop music phenomenon that follows the American debut of a fictional K-pop music label RBY. The label's superstars—including solo artist MwE, played by real-life K-pop superstar Luna; girl group RTMIS; and boy band F8—prepare for a high-stakes NYC concert as a documentary filmmaker captures the performances and backstage struggles.
The backlash to Green's review mostly centered on his seeming displeasure with the amount of Korean language in KPOP. "[T]hose who aren't hard-core fans of the genre or don't understand Korean—let alone those who saw the radically different and far superior Off-Broadway version in 2017—will have a harder time enjoying this one," Green writes. He's referencing the musical's 2017 world premiere Off-Broadway at Ars Nova. Though the musical has been substantially revised on its journey to Broadway, both the earlier iteration and the current Broadway script include both lines and lyrics in Korean. Producers Forbes and Parnes make it clear in their letter that their reaction is not due to the review simply being negative, affirming that they "respect Mr. Green's right to be critical of the show."
Conceived by Jason Kim and the Woodshed Collective, KPOP features a book by Kim; music, lyrics, music production, and arrangements by Helen Park; and music and lyrics by Max Vernon.