2016 K-Pop World Festival Dhaka:
‘Hallyu’ Breaks the ice to make its way to Bangladesh
“I need you girl, 왜 혼자 사랑하고 혼자서만 이별해, I need you girl 왜 다칠 걸 알면서 자꾸 니가 필요해, I need you girl, 넌 아름다워…” (translation: I need you girl, why am I in love alone, why do I get hurt alone, I need you girl, why do I still need you when I know I’ll get hurt again, I need you girl, you’re beautiful..)
The audience is clapping their hands or with their hands up all excited while they sing along to the song ‘I Need You by BTS (Korean Idol Group)’. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is filled with excitement. What was going on in the auditorium of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy? Starting from 2015, Bangladesh began to participate in an annual event called “K-Pop World Music Festival” which started in 2011 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea in cooperation with The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS). The objective of event is not only to bring the ‘Hallyu (The Korean Wave)’ fans all over the world to South Korea but also to bring people from different countries together in the name of culture. The preliminary and the second round of the event was hosted by Embassy of the Republic of Korea around 70 different countries, with a total participants of 13,000 people. The preliminary round in Bangladesh had a total of 30 teams who sent video footages of their team either singing or dancing K-Pop music.
From the 30 teams, 9 teams were selected to advance through the second round of “K-Pop World Music Festival Dhaka 2016” which was held at the auditorium of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The event was hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, partnered with RTV for media and guidance by the BD K-Family (the first Bangladeshi K-pop and Korean Culture Community in Bangladesh formed in 2010). With the auditorium filled with family members of the participants, K-Pop lovers in Bangladesh and others who were interested in watching the perforce were filled with energy and excitement. The event started off with congratulatory remarks from the Ambassador of Korea, H.E. Mr. Ahn Seong-Doo, followed by welcome words by special guests Laila Hasan and Champa Banik, Nusrat Imrose Tisha who were also present. From the beginning to the end, the atmosphere of the auditorium was no different than a concert by a famous singer(s) anywhere across the world. It was filled with joy, love, and wildness as the audience enjoyed the event with claps, whistles, cheers and singing along to the songs. After the last performance, final team was asked about their opinions of the event. “The ‘K-Pop World Festival 2016’ was a great event in every way. I think ‘K-Pop World Festival’ is a good platform for people to show their talent through Korean music” said one of the participants, Saiful Islam. Another participant Tanuva Zahan said “The environment of K-pop World Festival 2016 was great. We got to see some really talented participants this year. We are happy to collaborate with the South Korean Embassy”. Tina Zahan said “I really loved K-pop World Festival 2016. Everything was really good, everyone enjoyed it. The comments show how much the audiences enjoyed the event and the great effort the performers have put in finally paid off.
Reaching towards the end of the event, the judges handed in their score sheets to announce the Winner, First Runner-Up and Second Runner-Up. The winner of the event was team XDC (Xpress D’ Crew), first runner-up masquerade and a tie was given between two teams B-BOTS and Achik for second runner-up. Team XDC (Xpress D’ Crew) will proceed to the next round as their video will be sent to Korea where professional judges will watch videos of the winners from around the world to decide on which teams will proceed to the final stage. When the participants of the “K-Pop World Music Festival 2016” from all over Bangladesh applied to join, they only had one goal in mind : to make it to the final round of the competition as it will be a great chance to travel to Korea since the final is held in Chang Won, South Korea. Not only will the participants be able to travel to Korea but will also perform live in front of thousands of K-Pop lovers that come from around the world and get to meet some of very famous Korean idol groups whom they have only seen through TV or the internet. It seems the Hallyu Wave has finally reached Bangladesh as the number of the K-Pop fans is gradually increasing. The BD K-Family formed in 2010, consists of more than 2,100 active members and the motive of the group is to promote and spread Korean culture here in Bangladesh being an active social community. Now it is a matter of time for Hallyu in the country.
Now you might ask what ‘Hallyu’ is. ‘Hallyu’ , also known as the Korean Wave, is a term widely used today– Hanllyu (direct spelling from the Korean word): ha (silent n) “Korea” + llyu “a unique trend” = Hallyu – is a new word that was founded in the 1990s referring to the increase in global popularity of Korean culture. ‘Hallyu’ was first motivated by the spread of K-Drama (Korean Drama) across East Asia during its early stages. As the K-Drama started to gain popularity, a new entertainment called K-Pop (Korean Pop or Korean Popular Music) was introduced. The introduction of K-Pop increased the popularity of ‘Hallyu’ from a regional expansion into a global phenomenon. South Korea has become one of the major exporters of popular cultures around the world, thanks to the development of the social media and video sharing platforms such as YouTube simplified the promotion, distribution, and consumption of the various forms of Korean cultures to many people around the world very easily.
The term K-Pop originally covers all the genres of existing ‘popular music’ in South Korea such as folk songs or children’s song, but today it is more often used to describe a modern type of ‘popular music’ covering the styles of dance, ballad, electro, R&B and Hip-Hop in South Korea. Korean music originally consisted music mostly folk songs, ballad, jazz and trot (a mix of Gospel music and traditional Korean music) until the 1990s when Korean musicians started to combine the American popular styles of music such as Hip-Hop, rock and techno into their music in the 1990s and in 1992 a revolutionary moment in the music history of K-Pop occurred. The revolution was caused by a trio called Seo Taiji & Boys coming out with a song titled “Nan Arayo (I Know)”. ‘New Jack Swing’, the genre of the song consisted inspiring beats, memorable chorus, and lyrics about problems of Korean society. The song eventually became one of the greatest songs amongst the Korean people and it was the start of a new era of K-Pop.
The debut of Seo Taiji & Boys made way for many other musicians to start singing other genres of music as they started a new era of K-Pop. And in 1995, the first entertainment company called S.M. Entertainment was founded. It was created to help people that dreamt of becoming a singer to realize their dreams. And a year later in 1996 the second entertainment company called YG Entertainment was created by former member of Seo Taiji & Boys, Yang Hyun Suk. In 1997 the third entertainment company called JYP Entertainment created. JYP Entertainment was created by K-Pop singer Park Jin Young who was a singer himself as well, as from time to time he would release his own solo album. These three entertainment companies have changed the K-Pop and brought K-Pop to its position today by producing many famous idol groups. They have started a wave for other new entertainment companies to start and to produce idol groups in Korea. The idea of an idol group was started in 1996, when ‘H.O.T. (High-five Of Teenagers’ was introduced to the people. The group H.O.T. was created by the producer of S.M. Entertainment Lee Soo Man. H.O.T. later on became the most loved idol group in Korea. As time passes by K-Pop music has become more open-minded as the usage foreign styles of genre appeared more often amongst idol groups. With the usage of foreign styles of genre it made it easier to attract fans from around the world than before, which made it possible for the early generations idol groups to have a slow start of spreading K-Pop aboard. And the same footsteps are being taken by idol groups today to spread the K-Pop all around the world.
K-Pop is almost at the point of reaching the global phenomenon. The popularity of K-Pop singers are largely based on the singers fascinating or attractive looks that he/she has, amazing vocal ability, the stunning stage presence which are well-choreographed and lastly the flawless dance performances that the idol groups do are some factors. The fame that the K-Pop music is receiving can easily be noticed as many of the K-Pop music are appearing more often on the Billboard chart (a chart which shows weekly popular songs in the United States and elsewhere). The best representation of K-Pop taking a big step towards the global stage would be ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy released in 2012. The song ‘Gangnam Style’ was the first ever K-Pop song to reach the top charts in more than 30 different countries around the world, No. 1 on the British Official Singles Chart, and 2nd on the US Billboard’s Hot 100. Not only was the music popular, but the music video on YouTube holds a Guinness World Records of becoming the first video to receive 1 billion views, the most viewed video online which is almost 2.6 billion and finally the most like video online which is at 1billion. With the worldwide success of PSY with “Gangnam Style” led to a flow of K-Pop idol groups, such as TVXQ, Big Bang, 2NE1, Girls’ Generation, 2PM and Wonder Girls, K-Pop was able to enter both the Asian and the Western pop music market more easily. ‘Hallyu’ consists of many different cultures such as food, clothing, movies and etc. However, without a doubt, the interest and love that people show the most is K-Pop.