Musical ‘Winter Wanderer’ offers heartwarming yet tragic love story for all

A scene from the musical 'Winter Wanderer' / Courtesy of ACOM

Can tragedies be beautiful? According to the musical “Winter Wanderer,” the answer is a resounding yes.”Winter Wanderer,” which has been taking center stage at the KEPCO Art Center concert hall in southern Seoul since Dec. 15, marks a return after 18 years since its premiere in 1997.Set in the 1970s, the two-act musical revolves around Han Min-woo, a medical student, and his love-at-first-sight encounter with his classmate Jung Da-hye. Their romance takes an unexpected turn when Han discovers his mother’s past as a military camp-town prostitute.In a quest for answers, Han visits his aunt, the proprietor of the fictional Niagara club near Camp Casey, only to find himself entangled in a world of drugs. Despite his intention to start anew with his love interest, Jenny, Han’s life meets a tragic end during a misguided drug transaction. Based on a 1983 novel by the late contemporary writer Choi In-ho (1945-2013), the narrative made its way to the big screen in 1986 under the same title and was later adapted into a drama in 1990.

The beauty of the plot, even with its tragic conclusion, is heightened by the skilled performances of the musical’s cast. Last Sunday’s performance, attended by this reporter, featured ASTRO members MJ as Han and JinJin as Park Hyun-tae, a friend of Han who has feelings for Jung. Despite being relatively new faces in the musical theater, both members delivered compelling performances.MJ, portraying Han’s descent into depravity, showcased a rough charm that contradicted his pretty boy facial features and sweet voice. His portrayal of Han, transitioning from an innocent medical student in the first act to a character consumed by darkness, was exceptionally striking.In particular, MJ’s rendition of Han being haunted by memories of his lost lover while under the 슬롯게이밍 influence of marijuana, demonstrated the emotional depth of the character.

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