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 {NEWS} News on Kpop from The Straits Times!!

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Posts : 48
Join date : 2009-06-25
Age : 24
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: {NEWS} News on Kpop from The Straits Times!!   Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:05 pm

Crazy about K-pop
by Jocelyn Lee

Korean pop music is a big hit here, with devoted fans falling for its boybands and girl groups.

Secretary Stephanie Loh, 35, took a week’s leave from work just to follow her favourite idol Eric Mun from Korean boyband Shinhwa when he came to Singapore two years ago.

Marketing analyst Cheryl Wen, 26, created a website for her favourite Korean boyband FT Island so that fans from all over the world can be updated with the band’s latest news regularly.

Student Vanessa Eng, 17, has spent more than $1,000 in the last two years collecting merchandise sold by popular Korean acts.

These fans are driven by the latest crest in the Korean wave here – K-pop music. Never mind that they do not understand what their idols are singing. Fans of these Korean pop acts support them for their good looks, catchy infectious tunes, strong candy-coated vocals and smooth dance grooves.

Ms Eng, who likes groups Shinee, Wonder Girls, FT Island and Big Bang, says: “I like the K-pop genre mainly because they are fast and catchy, and easy to dance along to. Also, the ballads are touching, and the Korean singers can sing well.”

Student Belinda Kew agrees: “The thing about Korean acts is that they are multi-talented all-rounders. They have extremely good dress sense, they are good-looking, and they sing very well when performing life.”

The 18-year-old adds: “Korean acts are very polished and well-prepared, such tat they give nothing short of the best when they perform. It is very impressive.”

K-pop, short for Korean pop, has gained prominence in Singapore over the past year, with six Korean albums ranked among the top 10 of music store HMV’s Japanese/Korean album sales chart in this week alone. These include albums by popular Korean boyband SS501, sexy girl group Wonder Girls and pop dance boyband Super Junior.

For the past two months, the song Because I’m Stupid by SS501 was on the local Mandarin Radio 100.3 music chart for eight weeks running and has even topped it twice.

Last November, a Korean Pop Night Concert organized and co-funded by the Korean government attracted an almost full-house crowd of 6,800 fans to the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The biggest Korean show here in 40 years saw nine huge Korean acts perform live at the Stadium, including popular boyband Shinhwa, seven-member hip-hop band 2PM and Wonder Girls.

In 2007, Korean superstar Rain held a sold-out concert before more than 6,600 people at the Singapore Indoor Stadium despite tickets peaking at $888 each.

Last month, Korean pop rock sensation FT Island drew a full-house crowd of more than 900 screaming teenage female fans, when they put on a showcase at Dragonfly Mandopop club at St James Power Station. Fans even queued overnight just so that they could get prime spots in the free-standing venue. Tickets were priced at $100 a person for the showcase.

The band performed at the small venue despite the overwhelming demand because it was only a concert showcase and not a full-fledged concert.

Industry insiders say the K-pop trend here was sparked off by Korean dramas, which often include soundtracks sung by Korean bands. Fans of Korean dramas gradually take note of the soundtracks and thus, notice the pop acts in Korea.

Radio 100.3 deejay Lim Leng Kee says: “Korean drama have a very huge influence on how well Korean pop does in Singapore. For example, boyband SS501 achieved instant success after the popular show Boys Over Flowers was aired in the region.”

Ms Angela Cheong, concert promoter and partner of DatzEntertainment which brought in FT Island last month, agrees: “Korean dramas have been popular with Singaporeans over the past few years and it’s a natural progression for fans of Korean dramas to progress to K-pop.”

She attributes the growing fan base for the music to the professional way singers are groomed and presented in Korea: “It’s how the Korean artists are packaged, with a good combination of looks, sleek dance moves and good vocals.”

As for fan Ms Loh, she says: “Initially, I got to know about Korean acts from watching the dramas. Then, I got hooked because they give very good live gigs and they sound even better than on CDs.”

She flew to Bangkok to watch Rain perform in a live concert in 2005 and also bought the most expensive ticket at $888 to see him again when he came to Singapore in 2007. She also flew to Bangkok in 2008 to watch Korean acts Fly To The Sky and Big Bang perform and also attended FT Island’s showcase here.

With Korean movies, then Korean idol dramas, and now, Korean pop music making waves in Singapore, it seems like soft power is the best way to promote Korean culture in Singapore.

Mr Lim Sang Jun, director of Press, Information & Culture at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Singapore, says: “It is not only diplomatic ties but also socio-cultural bonds that bridge our coutnries. And music, more than other forms of art, appeals most directly to the emotions, and has the widest reach.”

He adds that he has noticed a mushrooming of K-pop fan clubs in Singapore, which shows that there is increasing popularity and awareness of Korean pop music here.

Despite the full-house turnout for the Korean Pop Night Concert last year, there will not be one this year as the Korean artists have other commitments. Nonetheless, Mr Lim says the Korean Embassy will be holding several other Korean Cultural Events from next month to October as part of Korea Festival 2009, with more details to be revealed later.

He adds: “I think one of the great strengths of Korean popular culture is that it is marked by influences from the West and yet remains quintessentially Asian.

“Singapore is a society that also finds its strengths in cultural hybridity – and this may be what give our cultures affinity and what makes Korean pop culture attractive to Singaporeans.”

For many fans, mostly female teenagers and young adults, their passion is fuelled by the easy access of information about their favourite stars through Korean fansites and forums on the Internet.

They usually check out and which have the latest updates about the stars, album reviews, as well as forums for like-minded fans to discuss their idols.

Student Jasmine Tan, 22, who visits the websites everyday, says: “I don’t need to spend a single cent and I can get all this information about my favourite idols.”

As for now, fans can only hope that local promoters bring in more Korean acts in the future.

Concert promoter Cheong says: “Since FT Island, there have been many requests by fans to bring in SS501, Super Junior and more. Nothing is confirmed yet because it depends on the groups’ schedule for the rest of the year. However, they are definitely possible acts to bring in.”

Student Alicia Lim, 17, says: “I’ll wait for my favourite band SS501 to come to Singapore. But if they don’t, I think I’ll fly to Korea to see them because I don’t want to wait anymore.”

Original Source: Singapore’s Straits Times, reported by Jocelyn Lee.

Annabella king
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