Sunday, 9 March 2014

Riding the Neon Seoul Train: K-Pop 101

Catchy tunes and synchronised dance moves pumped out by attractive young performers is the South Korean craze raking in billions across the world.  A blend of pop, rock, hip hop and electronic music manufactured in the sugary Asian Gen Y fashion, K-Pop isn't just music; it's a subculture.  Need to know more?  We thought so:

K-Pop was born in the 90's.  In 1992 Korean boy band Seo Taiji & Boys layered elements of rock and heavy metal over their usual dance vibes using new technology.  The result was a captivating original sound that the public hadn't heard before, and they loved it.  

It has made gazillions, and it's getting bigger.  In 2012 Time Magazine dubbed K-Pop as "South Korea's biggest export" with earnings of $3.4 BILLION.  The biggest date in the K-Pop calendar is the Dream Concert where up to 20 groups perform, selling out Seoul's 66,800-seat World Cup Stadium.

It's Snoop Dogg's guilty pleasure.  The American hip hop community and K-Pop are developing a strong connection by several industry ballers including Kanye West, Ludacris and joining forces with Korean superstars.  Bonus fact: K-Pop songs are often composed in Norway and Sweden.  

YOU could a K-Pop star.  
Probably not, but a number of Aussies are; Brisbanite Jason "Hanbyul" Jang (who performs with LEDapple), Sydney-born Kristine "Hayana" Yoon (EvoL) and Baron Yu who ditched his studies at Sydney University to become the leader of C-CLOWN.  SM Entertainment, Korea's most successful K-Pop company receives roughly 300,000 applications a year; so don't quit your day job.

K-Pop culture is a government concern.  Fashion labels make a killing releasing copies of clothing worn by K-Pop idols, some of which the government consider immoral, impractical and downright dangerous (skin bleaching gel, anyone?).  Cramp-inducing heels, navel-baring midriffs and stockings replacing pants in the dead of winter have officials up in arms. 

There's a legion of extra super creepy fans.  Recently, the Korean media reported a rise of compulsive behaviours such as stalking and the invasion of privacy in the K-Pop community.  The diehard K-Pop devotees (usually teenage girls) called sasaeng, or "private" fans have been linked to incidents of breaking in to idol's houses and stealing items, or taking pictures of them sleeping.  Yikes. 

The ULTIMATE K-Pop experience may be coming to Sydney.  IconPark's Min Joo Social have masterminded a Korean BBQ/K-Pop Karaoke concept that could see YOU pumping out moves while downing one of their awesome 'Kocktails'.  You'll need something crazier than plum wine, like the booze-fulled bubbled goodness of K-Fizz served in an ice-cold Chilsung Cider can.  

Check out Min Joo's plans to get Social and back their awesomeness here.


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