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Culture sector close to complete shutdown

From stage to small screen, productions put on hold due to COVID-19

“The Flower of Evil” (tvN)/ “Missing” (OCN)
“The Flower of Evil” (tvN)/ “Missing” (OCN)

With the virus pandemic here unraveling out of control nationwide, productions from the stage to the small screen are shutting down to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

After a cast member of the musical “Kinky Boots” was notified of having close contact with a person who was confirmed to have COVID-19, the show canceled its weekend performances.

The musical “Rent” took a blow, too, as stage actor Choi Jae-rim, who stars in “Kinky Boots,” appears in the show, too. “Rent” closed its curtains on Saturday, a day earlier than its original closing date.

After the “Kinky Boots” cast member tested negative for the virus, the show announced that it will resume on Tuesday. For the performances from Tuesday to Sunday, an empty seat will be left between every audience member.

More than 10 stage shows were also canceled in Daehangno, the hub of the small theater scene in Seoul. Some small productions have reported cluster infections, raising concerns in the community.

Meanwhile, TV productions are announcing shutdowns, too.

One of Korea’s major TV drama production companies, Studio Dragon announced on Saturday afternoon that it will halt all shootings scheduled between Aug. 24 and 31. Pre-produced episodes of dramas will air.

Terrestrial broadcaster KBS, which recently experienced turmoil from a series of infections among its staff and actors, held an emergency meeting over the weekend and decided they would also halt all shootings of five of its drama series for a week starting Monday.

Cable network JTBC and global streaming company Netflix took preemptive measures Friday. JTBC is postponing the production of “Just Comedy” as a precautionary measure with the disease spreading quickly, especially in the capital area where most of the filming takes place.

Not only television dramas, but the entertainment industry overall is grinding to a halt amid caution on a secondary spread among workers. CJ ENM stated that shooting for tvN’s variety show “Hometown Flex,” will not proceed until next month, whereas one of the company’s most popular music programs, “M Countdown” that airs on Mnet, will skip next week’s show.

Meanwhile, the level two social distancing guideline was expanded from the capital area to the rest of the country Sunday, and medical experts are reportedly calling for the government to increase measures further in regard to the fast expanding pace of the virus. South Korea’s daily new cases neared 400 as of Sunday morning, with almost 300 of them reported in the greater Seoul area. 



By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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