With their catchy beats, insane choreography and voguish outfits, K-pop stars are drawing in fans from all over the world, including right here at KU.
Many would remember Psy’s Oppa Gangnam style that went viral in 2012, but the new wave of K-pop bands have taken to the western scene with their new age sound combining undertones of R&B, trap and electro.
One of the biggest K-pop fansites, Soompi, discovered that the vast majority of their 22 million users are not actually Korean but are just drawn to the genre’s originality.
“They spend hours translating lyrics. Mainly they are drawn to the the highly visual and symbolic music videos with elaborate story lines,” said Soompi community manager, Kristine Ortiz.
Kingston University has its own South Korean appreciation society that consists of approximately 120 members from different ethnic backgrounds.
The society’s president, Jihee Byun, said: “K-pop is different from other genres because of its high level of performance, such as synchronised dances and strong stage presence.”
They often host language lessons, drama marathons, food nights and even K-pop dance tutorials to enrich their members in all aspects of Korean culture. At times, they have performed flash mobs in the KU hallways dancing to their hits.
One of the most popular bands right now is BTS which made history last year by being the first K-pop group to score a top 40 on the UK’s official singles chart with their song Idol at number 21. Another favourite is ‘Mic Drop’ which had 9.2 million UK streams.
“Many joined the club because of BTS but we aim to expand their knowledge on other artists,” she said.
The boy band has been a big international hit expanding to both in America and Europe. Last October, they completely filled the 02 arena for two nights, with some ticket re-sells going for almost £2,000 and more than £3,000 for VIP.
Two members of the society managed to buy the cheaper resell tickets for £400 each, similar to the average student’s monthly rent.
“It was totally worth it. I still zone out some days wondering if I had even attended or just dreamed the whole thing. Next time, I’ll go straight for thos VIP tickets,” said KU’s own BTS superfan, Sabrina.
Another member described the band as “beyond imagination” and “beautiful”, claiming that they they are even better looking than their pictures in person.
This year, more acts have followed in BTS’ footsteps to make their London debuts, such as the likes of Bang Yongguk, Blackpink and Eric Nam.
It has been only two and a half years since they formed, yet Blackpink are about to grace the stages of five European cities as part of their “In your area” tour. The iconic four girl band will perform in Wembley on May 22.
The stadium has a capacity of 90,000 but we it is expected to be sold out due to the group’s rising fame and popularity. Blackpink are already making a breakthrough this summer in being the first K-pop act ever to perform at Coachella.