U of C's Korean Pop Culture Club focuses on bringing k-pop to students
Huddled around a laptop, a group of university students are trying to decide whether they want to watch a Korean horror movie or a Korean action drama.
The group is the Korean Pop Culture Club, which began in January and is one of the University of Calgary's newest student clubs. Its primary focus is to bring people together through Korean music and elements of modern day culture such as the popular dramas and variety shows.
"We want to show people you can be interested in another culture and have a passion for it," says Jordan Wong, club president.
The Korean Pop Culture Club holds events every two to three weeks and each meeting focuses on different activities. They'll watch music videos, Korean dramas and movies, or hold "Running Man" events, which are based off the popular Korean variety show where contestants race against each other while completing specific goals and missions.
"There are a few episodes where they hide hints everywhere, and that would be hilarious if we could do that on campus," says Wong.
Korean pop music, or K-pop, is gaining prominence worldwide, with iTunes now offering wider selections of popular Korean artists in its store.
YouTube is also flooded with new music videos and forums dedicated to specific artists and translating articles from the entertainment industry, adding to the K-pop explosion online.
Korean pop music is being spread internationally through a variety of means, especially through YouTube and word of mouth, says member Andrea Kok.
The music is often characterized by catchy tunes and intricate dance sequences.
"It almost seems as if each song has its own dance move associated with it, which people would know once you've played the song," says Kok.
Rahul Pallan, vice-president of the club, describes K-pop as addictive. A new listener may hate it at first, but they'll be hooked the second or third time around.
Recently, Korean artists have been making their way to the west, after first expanding throughout most of Asia. Now, K-pop is gaining popularity throughout Europe and North America.
Singer BoA and the girl group known as Wonder Girls have both succeeded on an international scale. The singer Bi Rain played the lead role in the movie "Ninja Assassin," and more recently, the nine-member girl group Girl's Generation appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on Jan. 31.
Pallan says, "They (Korean artists) provide a type of entertainment that we definitely don't get here.
"Aside from the catchiness, the artists works so hard towards making sure that their fans are also included. I feel like you get the really big stars here and sure they'll tweet to their fans or whatever. But in Korea, even if it's an obligation to their company, their artists still take the time to meet the fans and network themselves," Pallan adds.
Even in Canada, there have been signs of K-pop catching on. Flash mobs have demonstrated the popularity of K-pop in Canada, and perhaps persuade major entertainment company, S.M. Entertainment, to host their popular concert SMTOWN in a Canadian city.
The K-pop dance group Octave Ministry regularly performs during Otafest, a Calgary-based convention in May celebrating Japanese animation and Asian culture.
Amy Yuen has also seen an increase in the prevalence of Korean culture here in Calgary. She says the city has a large Asian population, and their culture can be seen in our daily lives, from the particular fashion styles seen on Korean idols, to multicultural television channels playing popular Asian dramas.