In our second interview on the rise of Korean pop music, or K-Pop, we turn to a dynamic duo – Wendi Wheeler and Kris E. – two bloggers who have taken their passion for Korean music and entertainment to the online world. Are they consumers, entertainment journalists, or prosumers who straddle both worlds? What’s their take on the latest K-Pop craze? Find out in our exclusive interview!
AsianTalks: What ignited your interest in K-Pop?
Wendi: It all started with Rain. I was amazed by his talent and also by who he was as a person and his struggles and rise to fame. So yes, I’m a big Rain fan. Through him, I learned about MBLAQ, a boy group he was training. And it was just a natural progression into the world of K-pop from there.
Kris: For me it started with the hit Korean drama ‘Boys over Flowers.’ I took an interest in Kim Hyun Joong who I later found out was the leader of SS501, a K-Pop group. He gave rise to my interest in Korean pop music.
AsianTalks: You’re both working on an exciting site for K-Pop fans right now. Tell us a bit about kPOPfix.com.
Wendi: kPOPfix is a collaboration between Kristina and I. We both love K-pop and we know how diehard K-pop fans can be. So Kristina came up with this idea to take a citizen journalism approach to K-pop. We’ve learned from our own experience that K-Pop fans have a lot to say and contribute, and there wasn’t really an outlet for them. So we thought a site where K-Drama and K-Pop fans could put their thoughts directly out there would be a cool thing. That’s kPOPfix!
AsianTalks: What does K-Pop offer that other music genres do not?
Kris: It offers fun, fashion, and excitement. It’s the only genre of music that I know that really teases the fans before the release of a new music video. Also it offers an inside look into the idols’ lives. It creates a more intimate level of entertainment. Not to mention, it provides hot guys and girls!
Wendi: I have never seen so much time and money invested into visual appeal as I have with K-Pop entertainment companies. Everything is cute and adorable. Aegyo is a very important skill K-Pop idols must have to woo their fans. Everyone is beautiful–the guys are so gorgeous, the girls are so pretty. In addition, I believe that K-pop is an interpretation of Western pop, hip-hop and R&B music, but with a very special Korean flare.
AsianTalks: What’s your take on the Gangnam Style phenomenon?
Wendi: I’m really happy for PSY, and as someone who’s been following K-pop for over three years, it’s a good feeling to see K-pop finally receive mainstream recognition in the US. I wish PSY and any other K-Pop crossover artists the best. I would love to see other artists like Rain, Big Bang or 2NE1 succeed as much as PSY has as well.
Kris: I think it’s really cool and kind of crazy how he’s gotten so many views on YouTube. He’s blown up overnight. I’m really happy he’s putting the Korean entertainment industry on the map. However, ‘Gangnam Style‘ is not everything, and is not the complete definition of K-Pop. There’s a lot more to it than the “horse dance.”
AsianTalks: For K-Pop fans who don’t speak or understand Korean, what do you think is the appeal of the music?
Kris: I think it’s a combination of cool fashion, bright colors, young, fresh faces. Whether you understand what they’re saying or not, it’s the beat of the music. It can be played in any club in the world.
Wendi: I find that the style often used in K-Pop music is reminiscent of the music I listened to growing up. It’s sort of retro and has a different feel to what’s on the radio now in the West. K-pop speaks to your heart, not your head.
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