Disney has given us heroines from all over the world, including China, France, the Polynesian Islands, and Denmark, but there has yet to be a Korean Disney princess.
Julia Riew, a 22-year-old Harvard student and TikToker, wants to change that. She hopes to bring more Korean representation to the big screen with Shimcheong: A Folktalk. Riew created this 16-song musical for her senior thesis.
Shimcheong is based on “The Blind Man’s Daughter,” a Korean folktale about a girl who falls in the sea while trying to save her father. To return home, she must escape the dangerous, underwater “Dragon Kingdom.” “The Blind Man’s Daughter” and Riew’s own experiences as a Korean American inspired the musical.
The story is really about her returning home and trying to reclaim this identity that she’s lost. And that, for me, comes from a lot of my own personal story of growing up in Missouri and then going to Korea for the first time when I was 18 years old.
— Julia Riew
In a TikTok video, a Disney-fied Riew introduces Shimcheong’s main musical number, “Dive.” The clip has since gone viral, racking up over a million views and inspiring fan art.
Riew has since released clips from her other songs, including the villainous “Dragon Queen’s” main theme.
Introducing the Korean Disney Villain: the Dragon Queen!
Since “Dive” went viral, Riew has been in contact with producers, who are expressing interest in making her dream a reality. “It definitely looks like the project is going to have a home somewhere in the future,” she said. “We’re not quite sure when, but a lot of conversations are being had, which is really exciting.”
Watch the video that started it all here!
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