There seems to be a close cultural link between France and Korea, which I have always suspected is partly to do the fact that both countries take food very seriously indeed.
The popularity of K-pop is a phenomenon very much in train in Asia, but up to now not so obvious in Europe.
The upcoming SMTown Live World Tour in Paris on June 10 at 7000-seater Zenith de Paris will be the first K-pop concert in France, featuring Dong Bang Shin Ki, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation (SNSD), SHINee and f(x). It seems that the event is not, as you might expect, catering solely or even mainly to an expat Korean community.
When tickets for the event sold out within 15 minutes, 300 K-pop fans who were unable to secure a place organised a semi-ironic protest rally (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RB1QZcuP1E) outside the Louvre museum, hoping that the organisers would respond with concert extension.
The even more dedicated members of the ‘Korean Connection’ Hallyu fan club, based in France, arrived in Korea on April 9 in a 54-strong delegation. They hoped, amongst other things, to convince Korea’s music agencies to take a bigger interest in the European market.
This group, who apparently surprised the Director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Paris with their enthusiasm, held the ‘1st Grand Korean Festival: Korean Connection 2011’ on May 8 at Espace Champerret, the first event of its kind in Europe.
I once had a French co-worker, who as we were marvelling at the fact that she knew the tune of a Simon and Garfunkel song but could not tell us the title, remarked with amusement that English-speaking people in general have difficulty with the concept of listening to songs in other languages.
For the non English-speaking world, I suppose this is not an issue, and it may be why France is more open to the Hallyu than the UK. With the decline of America, and the rise of China and other non-English speaking countries, maybe a little more openness would be a good thing. We could miss out on some rocking tunes, not to mention films and dramas, if we resist the tide of the Hallyu any longer.