Fashion and Fun Rolled up in Cute
In perfect synchronicity, these loving fans are waving little lights with pictures of their pop idol’s face stuck on a stick. The names that they are screaming? No, it isn’t Justin, or Taylor. Instead, we hear the Korean names of Taemin (Shinee), Siwon and Donghae (from Super Junior).
Welcome to the world K POP.
Kpop (Korean Pop) has been called the greatest Korean Export, and has over the years developed into a marketing powerhouse that has had projected sales and profits of over 5 billion. Yah, the singers may be gumdrop cute, but we are taking big money here.
The Hallyu (Korean culture wave) began in the early 1990s with the first group Seo Taiji and Boys who were credited with changing the landscape of Korean music. Not only were the boys handsome, but they were talented. And that seems to be the theme here. It is not just their looks but also their drive and musical talents which has made the Kpop phenomenon a lasting one.
Today, KPOP is bigger than ever. Though other countries have tried to following in their footsteps such as Japan and China, no one has quite perfected it like Korea. Thee groups are pretty much formed in the way of One Direction and Fifth Harmony did, but they usually start at much younger ages (nine or ten). The promising stars are then taught dance, singing and languages such as Chinese, Japanese and English.
Though most of the KPOP stars are native, quite a few are from the states and abroad. One singer, a huge talent in Korean is Henry Lau. Canadian and Chinese, Henry has a resume that is well..look for yourself. He is fluent in Mandarin, Korean, French, Taiwanese and Cantonese. He was classically trained in dance and plays violin, piano and a list of other instruments at the highest levels, having won major musical competitions. And he is probably not alone. His talent and skills are just exactly what Kpop is all about despite their cute packaging.
KPOP is definitely not for the shy and lazy. The blossoming stars practice endless hours and the requirements are enormous. Not only must they be incredibly good looking and charming, but they must be able to sing and dance too. As a result, the dance routines are perfect. Sure, it seems a little manufactured but they are like synchronized swimming and they seem effortless.
With their growing popularity, groups and singers such as Big Bang, 2NE1 and Girls’ Generations have also inspired fashion. Many of the singers model for name brands, fashion shows and are some of the country’s greatest fashion influencers. The girls are all young and beautiful. They are known for their long legs, beautiful faces and perfect skin. Their style ranges from Hello Kitty, Sailor Moon cute (Orange Caramel) to sexy (Hyuna who starred opposite of Psy) with mini dresses, bling, and high heals.
The men however, are the real fashion stars. They seemed to have been inspired by Liberace and have taken metro to a new level. The boys who look like boys (adolescent body types, long tall figures and gorgeous faces think Justin Bieber at fifteen) either go from modern and cool in black leather to super feminine with floral print, eye liner, even lip gloss. Taemin, for example, is one of South Korea’s hottest acts. He is sexy in an androgynous way.
The groups, however, seem to have a time/age limit as do child stars here. They seem to be considered “old” when they are just twenty while dancing next to a bunch of fourteen year old when you’re in your twenties seems well, awkward. Also, there seems to be a plethora of bands and groups making competition tremendous.
In hopes of prolonging their careers, many KPOP stars have moved successfully to another K phenomenon which is K DRAMAs, and have proven to be equally talented as actors. One such example is beautiful and talented Hwang-Jung_Eum who was once a KPOP singer of the group Sugar. She has proven she has acting chops in such hits as “She was Pretty.”
But what makes these groups not the usual one hit wonders or manufactured clones are their enormous work ethnics. You have a sense that these kids understand what a huge opportunity being a star is and they are willing to dance and sing their hearts out in order to keep on shining.
©Gaya Lynn 2016
Try these: They are older but they are some of my favorites.
Super Junior BONAMANA
Infinite Be Mine