Dear Korean Cultural Centre,
As France prepares for its first ever K-POP concert with one of South Korea’s leading entertainment companies, the general feeling around the blogosphere is that this will truly be a historical moment. As many have said, “The Hallyu is finally here” but for me as a British supporter of Korean culture this sentiment falls flat for me in many ways. Korean people have been in England for a long time, and managed to integrate quietly into places like New Malden and the surrounding areas of Kingston. It has become quite a ‘thing’ for those that have discovered Korean culture to take a kind of pilgrimage to New Malden just to go into shops that sell Korean media and to visit restaurants where they can eat famous dishes such as bibimbap, kimchi and ddeokbokki. The KCC is one of the main organisations that have dedicated themselves to bringing authentic Korean culture over to London and their movie nights, cooking classes and recent collaboration with KPOP-Team have demonstrated just how powerful South Korean culture has become, and we really appreciate what you do.
The KPOP-Team has done a good job of bringing Hallyu fans together from all parts of London. At these club nights you will find people of almost every ethnicity united under one roof all in the name of Kpop. We know the dances, we know (most) of the lyrics, and we know all of the artists. I for one am about to show my age when I say that I have been fan of BoA since she debuted in Korea with Id;Peace B. I remember Baby VOX and when Park Ji Yoon’s ‘Adult Ceremony’ caused outrage. I remember when Lee Hyori was just a member of FINKL and received criticism for her debut single ‘10 minutes’ for the lyrics apparently being demeaning to men.
These days the big companies like SM, YG and JYP dominate not only in South Korea but also throughout Asia. The trouble with being British a fan/supporter of a niche market such as Kpop is that we don’t like to make a fuss. There have been countless discussions on sites such as ‘Omona They Didn’t’ whether or not us Brits should do a flashmob protest like our French cousins, and the idea was seen as good-but not good enough that people would actually attend. It’s just in our nature to accept things as they are and to ‘carry on’. But these are times where Big Bang (under Universal Music in Japan) T-shirts have literally sold out, of the flagship store in Uniqlo. I was there along with a bunch of other Kpop fans who loudly voiced their disdain at the fact that the T-shirts had the Japanese names and not the Korean names that the world at large knows-Taeyang being SOL for example.
It’s not like Asian artists haven’t been here before. The legendary Jpop artist Utada Hikaru held a concert in Angel in February of 2010 and was forced to do two dates because the show sold out within an hour. This show was only slightly publicised but the fans posted it everywhere they could to make Utada’s arrival known.
This is why I felt that I had to write this letter in response to the Hallyu ‘finally’ reaching our shores. For me, the Hallyu represents the sudden popularity of Korean media (much like the Latin wave in the late 90s) however I believe that Korean culture is here to stay in London.
What I’m saying is British fans deserve a Kpop concert. Just because we are less vocal about how much we love Kpop doesn’t mean we should be overlooked. The SMTown Meets Paris concert will be historical and I hope it gets lots of coverage as not only do the French fans deserve it, but also the artists themselves deserve to see how much their hard work has paid off and has made them into international artists. I believe a London show would demonstrate this perfectly.
Thank you for your time
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