You may find it hard to believe that despite being 100% ethnically Korean, I had not heard a k-pop song other than PSY’s “Gangnam Style” (강남스타일) until very recently!
I came to Seoul in September 2017 on a mission to “discover my Korean roots” and perform standup comedy. Finally, on my 35th birthday, I decided it was time to see what this k-pop craze was all about! Thanks to the Hallyu Experience Program and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, I was able to throw myself into the world of k-pop at S.M. Entertainment!
Hearing the music and watching the videos of artists like Exo, Girls’ Generation, and TVXQ was definitely eye-opening! Some of the songs were very catchy and many of the dance moves in the videos were impressive. I wondered why I had such an aversion to k-pop before?.
Note: I am still working through my self-induced neurosis and life long animosity towards my Korean ethnicity and working every day on breaking down those walls! I am happy to remark that being here in Korea is helped tremendously! 🙂
After browsing through the S.M. Entertainment k-pop gallery, our group went downstairs to start the learning a k-pop dance routine from a fabulous dance instructor in the SAME dance studio where S.M. Entertainment artists practice their routines! I do believe I took on some of the energy and masterful coordination of those k-pop artists as a result.
The song? Red Flavor by Red Velvet! Bubbly, fun, and catchy… I would later find myself humming it without even noticing (I may or may not have broken out into the choreography when the song come on at a bar on Homo Hill in Itaewon one night… Alcohol may or may not have been a factor in that decision…).
Our instructor (shamefully I have forgotten his name but you can see him in the pic below) worked to train and teach us the dance moves for ONE full hour to learn… wait for it… twenty seconds of “Red Flavor” choreography. Twenty seconds! That’s it?!? After the dance class I was out of breath and drenched in sweat! The dancing in k-pop is no joke! I cannot imagine what it would take to have to sing (assuming k-pop artists actually sing and don’t just lip-sync performances) AND dance these complicated routines one after another and still manage to look as pretty as they do!
I am grateful I had the opportunity to experience k-pop at S.M. Entertainment on my birthday and it has changed the way I view k-pop and Korean artists.
Special shoutout to Jay Park, the pioneer who earlier this year was one of the first and only Asian artists signed to Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s music label). As a Korean-Canadian who was one of only two b-girls breakdancing in my high school (all while a vision of my mother shaking a finger saying “Hip hop is the music of the devil…Breakdancing is the dance of the devil” hung over me), I am proud that Jay Park is blazing his own trail and leveraged k-pop to break through into the world of hip hop. Well played!
Also, he managed to learn the Korean language so there may be hope for me yet!
Jay Park (who may or may not be my long lost cousin) is blasting through all kinds of stereotypes and limitations set upon Asian people and has proven that Koreans are bad ass and can do ANYTHING they put their minds to. AMEN!
#k-pop #kpop #dance #hallyu #Seoul #SMentertainment #JayPark #RocNation #RocFam #Asians #Koreans #hiphop #Exo #RedVelvet #TVXQ #GirlsGeneration