Tag Archives: k-pop

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[PIC OF THE DAY] Steven Yeun Meets Epik High

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Looks like 2NE1’s Sandara isn’t the only friend Steven Yeun has at YG Entertainment.

The Walking Dead star recently snapped a photo with South Korean hip-hop trio Epik High on an airplane ahead of the group’s North American tour. Tablo, the band’s leader, shared the photo via Twitter and Instagram over the weekend.

Surprise friends? Epik High & Steven Yeun #MYHIGHISEPIK #WALKINGDEAD

A photo posted by Tablo of Epik High (@blobyblo) on

Epik High is set to kick off their summer tour on May 28 at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. Through June, the group will be be visiting several major U.S. and Canadian cities, including Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New York City and Toronto. You can learn more info about the tour here.

Last November, Yeun and Park co-starred in a comedy mini-series produced by Be FUNNY Studios. The series follows a fictionalized version of Yeun, who abandons his girlfriend Dara behind in Los Angeles in order to become a breakout mukbang, aka “eating broadcast,” star.

You can watch the first episode of the series below:

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‘Make It Pop’ Renewed for Season 2 on Nickelodeon

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Nickelodeon has renewed the K-pop inspired musical sitcom Make It Pop for a 20-episode second season.

The series premiered on April 6 and concluded its first season on May 1. Starring K-pop singer Megan Lee, Make It Pop follows three teen girls who meet as roommates at an international boarding school and later form the pop band, XO-IQ.

According to Nickelodeon’s press release, the teen musical comedy became the “most-watched long-form” content on Nick.com and on the Nick App.

Prior to the show’s debut, critics and Hallyu fans accused the network of capitalizing on K-pop trends and criticized the series for its lack of Asian male characters, despite it starring one Asian American and two Asian Canadian female leads.

In an interview with Billboard, Lee addressed the issue about the lack of an Asian male lead in the sitcom, emphasizing that the casting call was open to all ethnicities and that roles were given to actors who portrayed them best.

“We do have Asian male characters in the show, I want to make that clear; we might not have an Asian male lead, but that was not specifically cleared out that way,” she said. “We’re not trying to exclude Asian males in any way.”

Last year, Lee sued her Korean label, Soul Shop Entertainment, alleging unfair treatment and verbal abuse from the management’s director. She recently won her lawsuit, which allowed her terminate her contract with the label ahead of Make It Pop‘s premiere.

Make It Pop is co-created by Thomas W. Lynch and Nick Cannon and produced by DHX Media.


Featured image via Nickelodeon

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Epik High Adds Additional Cities and Dates for 2015 North American Tour

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Epik High announced today that five more dates and three new cities have been added to their 2015 North American Tour, making this the largest K-pop concert tour series in North America since 2010.

During the initial sale for tour tickets on April 15, the Vancouver and Toronto shows sold out within the first hour, followed by the New York show at the end of the first week. Due to high demands, additional shows have been added, including encore shows in Vancouver and New York.

Additional dates and venues include:

June 1: Vancouver, B.C. at the Vogue Theatre (encore show added)
June 2: Seattle, Wash. at The Showbox
June 4: Chicago, Ill. at House of Blues
June 7: Atlanta, Ga. at Center Stage
June 13: New York, N.Y. at Best Buy Theater (encore show added)

Tickets for additional stops will go on sale at 12 p.m. in each venue’s city on May 6 at the tour’s official website.

Last month, Epik High headlined the K-pop Night Out showcase at South by Southwest. Formed in 2001 as an underground hip-hop group, Epik High is considered one of South Korea’s most influential hip-hop artists.

Their eighth studio album SHOEBOX has been praised for its musical narrative and artistic lyrics, topping Korean and global music charts.

You can watch the music video for two of their tracks below:


Featured image courtesy of YG Entertainment

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Columbia Grad Student Creates K-pop Boy Band ‘EXP’ for Thesis Project

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

When fans of K-pop boy group EXO recently heard about a non-Korean boy band debuting in Korea as “EXP,” they weren’t having it. Especially when they found out that this EXP group would be using the tagline “EXP Planet,” just one letter off from EXO’s “EXO Planet.”

The group was no joke. EXP’s Instagram claimed a week ago that the “first and only NYC-born K-pop band” would be dropping their new single, “LUV/WRONG,” on iTunes very soon. The boy band also announced that it would make its debut at the Columbia University MFA Thesis Show in NYC on April 26. Wait, what?

As it turns out, EXP is the product of a thesis project by a Columbia graduate student, Bora Kim, an interdisciplinary artist and sociologist from Seoul. Kim began the project, titled “I’m Making a Boy Band” (IMMABB), in October 2014 as an “ongoing collective experience, in-depth research, experimentation, filmmaking as well as business endeavor.”


The ideas had already been running through her mind since the success of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” back in 2012. Kim said she was interested in researching how K-pop had finally “made it” in the Western world.

“The Korean pop industry has always appropriated its concepts from the West, and also the West through Japan, until not, and the reverse was a shock for the Korean public,” Kim explains in an interview with Columbia University. “‘Idol Groups’ became national heroes and K-pop became part of a proud national identity. But there is a double standard at play here. … K-pop had been looked down upon until outsiders started to consume it and its related products as well.”

Kim found that K-pop exports were directly tied to an increase in profit for Korean IT products, such as mobile phones–in fact, she says the biggest beneficiaries of the Korean Wave are companies like Samsung and LG.

But why make a boy band?

“I was interested in K-pop and idol groups on this level initially as I was thinking about cultural flow, or the relationship of dominant culture and peripheral culture, and how that is interwoven with one’s identity or one’s national identity,” Kim says. “I wanted to see what would happen if I made American boys into K-pop performers, by teaching them how to sing in Korean and act like Korean boys, and complicate this flow/appropriation even more.”

“Complicating the flow” also meant exploring how masculinity is portrayed in boy groups.

“These boys are tailored to attract straight young females, originally,” Kim says. “but the presentation of their sexuality is very complicated. … For example, a young group of pretty boys with great skin start rapping in a hip-hop music video while wearing a lot of make-up. What does this mean? Who is the target audience? It is totally gender-bending and experimental, but, at the same time, it is very typical, mainstream K-pop.

“And the acceptance of this strangeness (in the eyes of Western audiences) started to happen when Korean economic prosperity reached a point where it was enough for the entertainment industry to produce high-quality pop culture products,” she adds. “Cultural barriers or mistranslation are overcome by the shiny framing/packaging of K-pop.”


Kim’s partners, Karin Kuroda and Samantha Shao, each brought their own expertise and perspectives to the project. Kuroda’s studies focused primarily on art criticism, photography, sculpture and fashion, while Shao studied arts administration and cultural theory at Maastricht University, Netherlands.

“The ‘I’m Making a Boy Band’ project aims to examine critical aspects of pop/business culture through the lens of an artist,” explains Kuroda, who first befriended Kim at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “By asking oneself what it means to assimilate or twist the rudimentary formula in K-pop ‘idol’ culture, this project highlights social issues on a global and personal level.”

Shao and Kim discussed the differences between Asian pop culture–particularly Taiwanese and Korean–with American pop culture, as well as the connection between popular culture and fine arts.

“By changing the working process (of making ‘art’), we intend to re-think and re-define what it means to communicate with the art world and its audience,” Shao says. “Since the main characters of this work are people–not only band members, but also collaborators–we try to challenge ourselves by giving up authorship from time to time.”

Shao adds that she believes IMMABB focuses more on communicating with the audience throughout the process rather than the outcome of the band. The project “welcomes interactions, encourages questions and provokes confrontations.”

You can read more of Bora Kim’s interview with the Columbia University School of the Arts here. You can also follow EXP’s exploits at their Instagram, exp_theband.


All images via Columbia University School of the Arts

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Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance is a G-dragon Fan

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Once again, the K-pop and American music worlds are colliding.

Gerard Way, former lead vocalist and founder of disbanded American alternative-rock band My Chemical Romance, recently revealed himself to be a fan of K-pop artist G-dragon.

On April 18, Way, who is now a soloist and comic book writer, announced via Twitter that he was listening to the BIGBANG member’s music and loved it. Following his initial post, the singer said he was surprised to learn that many My Chemical Romance may also be K-pop fans.

The next morning, Way tweeted a screenshot of G-dragon from his music video “Crooked” with the caption “killer vibe.”

You can read his series of tweets below:


H/T to Koreaboo

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KCON 2015

KCON 2015 To Take Over Staples Center & L.A. Live

If you need any indication of the power of hallyu and Korean popular culture, look no further than how CJ E&M‘s KCON has grown since its launch in 2012.

KCON hosted over 42,000 attendees from around the world last summer at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, and this year, the convention is bringing its A game. From Friday, July 31 to Sunday, Aug. 2, fans can expect plenty of panels, workshops, food fashion and more at the L.A. LIVE plaza in Downtown L.A., punctuated by two concerts at the Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday.

Last year’s lineup included B1A4, BTS, CNBLUE, G-Dragon, Girl’s Generation, IU, Jung Joon Young, SPICA, TEEN TOP and VIXX. We’ll keep you updated on when this year’s artists are announced—KCON promises that the concerts will “Ignite Your Feelz.”

Check out KCON 2015 USA’s website for more information. You can watch a recap of last year’s KCON below.


Featured image courtesy of KCON

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A Cube Entertainment Begins Global Auditions in Los Angeles

South Korea-based A Cube Entertainment is looking for their next generation of singers, actors, dancers and models as they begin their global audition process for 2015 in Los Angeles. Do you think you have what it takes to be part of the company that represents girl group A Pink and ballad singer Huh Gak?

A Cube is specifically looking for young talent around 11 to 20 years old (born between 2003 and 1994). From now until April 22nd, Los Angeles-based applicants must complete the following steps for the online audition:

Fill out the official application and send it to globalaudtion@a-cube.co.kr, along with a headshot and any relevant media (recordings, links to videos, etc.). Subject of the email must be [Name/Age/Sex].

A Cube Entertainment will announce the results individually by email, and for those who passed the online audition, A Cube will work out a time and place for an in-person audition.


For those interested who are not based in Los Angeles, stay tuned for more details on A Cube Entertainment’s 2015 Global Audition circuit.


Image via A Cube Entertainment. H/T to Koreaboo for additional audition details.

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Ryu rap

Hyun-jin Ryu Shows Off His Rapping Skills in Korean Commercial

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Hyun-jin Ryu can drop a sweet change-up. But did you know he can drop bars, too?

The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw may have one of the best résumés among his peers when it comes to commercials and guest appearances. Ryu’s commercial for NH Card is just the latest in his exploration of his artistic side.

Ryu has always taken on side jobs in South Korea during the offseason, including an earlier commercial for Ottogi noodles and a guest appearance on the popular show Running Man, alongside fellow Korean baseball players Shin-soo Choo and Jung-ho Kang. Ryu also has a couple of K-pop singles under his belt, by the way.

During the regular season, he drags his teammates into his antics, like when he used Clayton Kershaw and (now former teammate) Matt Kemp as backup dancers. Maybe he can include Hank Conger the next time, too—the new Houston Astro’s twerking puts Miley Cyrus to shame.

In regards to his professional work, Ryu has been slowly resuming throwing activities while nursing a sore shoulder. The Dodgers began the season with him on the disabled list, and the team has stated they will allow him take as much time as needed before getting Ryu back on the mound.

If you’re looking for an in-depth read, be sure to check out our Hyun-jin Ryu cover story from August 2013.


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