K-drama The Sound of Magic takes the musical route

The Sound of Magic takes the musical route to tell the story of the interconnected destinies of a mysterious magician who never wants to grow up and two students forced to grow up quickly by life situations.

The six-part Korean drama stars Ji Chang Wook as Ri Eul, a magician who lives in an abandoned amusement park; Choi Sung Eun as hardworking student Yoon Ah Yi, who struggles to support herself and a brother; and Hwang In Youp as affluent, heterosexual college student Il Deung, who is forced to meet his parents’ expectations.

Based on the original Annarasumanara webtoon by Ha Ilkwon, the live-action version is directed by Itaewon-class director Kim Sung Youn. The series is streaming on Netflix today, May 6.

During a virtual press conference and ensuing panel interview, director Kim shared that he was an instant fan of the webtoon when it was first released over a decade ago. When he acquired the rights some time later, the story touched him “in a different way than it had before”. For about seven years, he had promised to make it a live-action series.

He was particularly attracted to the character of Ah Yi who gave up on her dreams due to poverty. “I was very curious to see how it would resonate in today’s context. For example, for the character Il Deung, he has a scene where he asks, ‘Do you really need to dream? Is it necessary to have a dream? And you know how in the past, we often insisted on the need to have a dream, to the children. I feel like that’s what we went through, “he he declares.

“But I remember watching a variety show where a superstar in Korea, Lee Hyori, came out and said to a kid there, ‘You don’t have to try to be anything. either when you grow up, be just what you want. And that was a very pleasant shock and made me think, “What would really happen if we didn’t want to be something? What if children grew up without dreaming in particular? Is it so serious?

He continued: “When I meet childhood friends or school friends, we often talk about ‘Are we really adults? “Can we say with certainty that we are really adults? Can we say that to our children? And I think that’s kind of the message that I would like to convey naturally (in the series). What does it mean to be an adult? What do we want our children to become? And what is a happier life? I want everyone who watches the show to be able to talk about these things not only with adults, but also with children.

Chang Wook is joined by Hwang In Youp (True Beauty), who plays top student and rich kid Il Deung, during a musical number.

netflix

Since in the source material there are a lot of monologues, especially by Ah Yi, Kim researched how the story could be told without the characters delivering too many lines. “And that’s what brought us to the musical element,” he added.

Combining “music and magic” was another challenge. “Actually, a fantasy musical drama wasn’t what I was looking for, but it turned out to be a great fantasy musical drama,” he shared.

He believes in the power of background music to enhance a scene, add depth to emotions, and move the story forward. But he also thought, instead of background music, why not have the actors play numbers instead?

Based on the webtoon Annarasumanara by Ha Ilkwon, the liveaction version is directed by Itaewon class director Kim Sung Youn

“It looks like a musical drama when you look at the featurette, but we don’t have a lot of music. Maybe just two numbers in an episode. But the whole point of having music is to show the emotions,” said Kim.

He also worked with a choreographer, but his brief was not to make the choreography too “whimsical or fantastic” but just enough to, again, help convey the feelings of the characters.

The same goes for scenes involving magic. He said, “I didn’t just want techniques or stuff. But through this magic medium, I wanted to show Ri Eul’s mystery or express Ah Yi’s emotions more effectively.

Choi Sung Eun (Beyond Evil, Start Up) plays Yoon Ah Yi, a struggling college student who starts dreaming again after meeting Ri Eul.

He called on Korean illusionist Lee Eung Yeol. “He really liked the original webtoon, so he told us he could help us all,” he said.

“Lee Eung Yeol’s magic isn’t just about techniques, but he makes sure it really feels like the real thing. So it’s really magic, it’s not just tricks, it’s really like tricks. fantasy is like magic, so much so, as he later noted, that audiences might wonder if Ji Chang Wook’s character is “just a magician or a real magician.”

It was also revealed at the press conference that the script, songwriting, guide recording choreography, vocal lessons, and everything were completed simultaneously. Music director Park Sung Il said he had never experienced a production process like this before The Sound of Magic.

Director Kim confirmed, “In the script, all the musical scenes were left blank. There were no lyrics, no guidelines as to how the scene was going to look. It was entirely up to the musical director.

“From the musical director’s point of view, you have to have a particular scene that inspires you to create this music. But it’s a completely different challenge. The music director, the choreography director, they’re all good friends, they’re actually the same age, and they were just given this huge question mark. Where do you even start? And they expressed all these difficulties and curiosities.

“In some scenes, the music director went ahead and created the music first. For example, for the carousel, it wasn’t written in the script. But when we heard the music, you felt that it was definitely a scene where we had to have a ride. That’s how we worked together organically. That’s how the script was created.

Looking back, Kim admitted he didn’t know what he was getting into when he took the director job. He credited the teamwork of the production people for making The Sound of Magic a reality.

“It really is a complete package. And everyone, professionally, has done their best and really poured their hearts and souls into the show,” he said.

Meanwhile, director Kim shared the casting process for the drama’s lead trio of Ji, Choi, and Hwang.

“I mean, look at them – they’re so beautiful. And when you first meet them, isn’t it so much about whether they’re a good fit for that particular role? But it’s more about having a certain something in them that will bring something to the character? I really tried to focus on those elements.

“For example, for Chang Wook, he has a boyish air to him, as well as a mysterious side to him. He’s also able to go into these dark moods, and I felt like that would really bring something really appealing. and charming to the character of Ri Eul.

“For Sung Eun, in front of a camera, there is a sense of sadness that she carries, that she is able to carry on screen. I felt like she was the perfect person to bring out something. thing – some of the layers that Ah Yi has.

“In Youp, he’s such a cheerful actor. The Na Il Deung character, he bluffs a lot, and he secretly has a crush on Ah Yi, but having In Youp play that role brought another layer of charm to the Il Deung character.

Director Kim expressed his gratitude to the cast members for agreeing to join the project. He also described their chemistry as “really stellar”.

“I think that’s what made the show what it is. We talk on the character team, and even though there are certain things that you expect from the character, there’s always that level, that something, that only the actor can bring to the character. The unique charm, the appeal of the character can only come to life when the actor takes on the role.