Musical actors voice their opinion on unfair casting debate surrounding Ock Joo-hyun

Singer and musical actors Ock Joo-hyun, left, and Kim Ho-young [YONHAP, THE JOONGANG ILBO]

Speculations that some celebrities were cast in musicals due to personal connections instead of undergoing auditions continue to spark controversy within the musical scene.

The controversy was first ignited when singer and musical actor Ock Joo-hyun was said to have used personal connections to influence the casting of the 10th production of the musical “Elisabeth” through personal connections rather than going through an audition process. The rumor was first started by a few musical theater fans who were upset that musical actor Kim So-hyun, who had already been involved in the musical twice, wasn't cast again and was instead replaced by Lee Ji-hye, who is known to be close to Ock.

On Wednesday afternoon, first-generation musical actors such as Nam Kyung-joo, Choi Jung-won and Kolleen Park released a joint statement online regarding the issue, apparently showing their opposition to Ock.

“Actors should only be focused on their duty in their performance,” they wrote. “They shouldn’t infringe upon the sole rights of production companies such as in casting. The production staff should do their best to run the stage, making sure to provide an environment in which actors can practice and focus solely on their acting. The production companies should make sure to keep the promises that they make to their staff and the actors, and they should not override their authority in any way to make promises that they cannot keep.”

As senior actors who have worked in the musical scene for many years, they said they felt “responsible” for the recent incident and will “attempt to face the problems beforehand and correct such malpractices if there were any during the [casting] process.”

Other actors, such as Kim So-hyun, Jung Sun-ah, Shin Young-sook, Cha Ji-hyun and Jung Sung-hwa, showed their support for the statement by reposting it on their own social media channels.

Musical actor Kim Ho-young added fuel to the fire by posting on his Instagram story a phrase insinuating that Ock dominates the current musical industry scene.

Ock retaliated on June 15 that she plans to take legal actions against those who spread rumors related to her influence in the production's casting, writing on her Instagram that “all the rights [including casting] belong to the production company.” On June 20, Ock filed a suit against Kim Ho-young and two other netizens at Seongdong Police Station in eastern Seoul for defamation.

EMK Musical Company, production company of “Elisabeth,” also denied the rumors on the same day, arguing that the actors “were selected through intense step-by-step auditions.”

Musical "Elisabeth" will show on Aug. 25 at Blue Square in Yongsan District, central Seoul.