Helen Park remembers the summer she fell in love with musical theater. She was participating in a two-month program at a Virginia elementary school, living with an aunt while 7,000 miles away from her hometown of Busan, South Korea. She played the Minstrel in Once Upon a Mattress and became obsessed while “memorizing the whole score, singing it front to back and imagining [herself] as every character.” Apparently, there’s an old picture somewhere of adolescent Park and her fellow Mattress-mates. In it, she is the only one sobbing. The end of summer signified more than just a return to school; it was a return to home in Korea. And she spent the plane ride thinking, “How can I get back there? How can I be on Broadway?”

Park is doing her childhood dreams one better. Not only is her original musical KPOP opening on Broadway this month, but the story also centers on Park’s…

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