Argentina Rides the K-Pop Wave

BUENOS AIRES — It’s become an annual rendezvous for South American Kpop enthusiasts.

This Kpop Latin America contest brings Korean pop finalists from different Latin American countries to Buenos Aires to compete in a very extravagant show.

The competition is fierce and some Latino contestants even sing in Korean.

Kpop is all about hard work and practice.

In the Korean Cultural Center of Buenos Aires, the Up3 Kpop band is rehearsing the Korean choreography they will perform at an event later this year.

That’s how dedicated these teenagers are to perform just like their Korean idols.

“Here in Argentina, tango or other types of dance do not have choreography that is already defined. However, with Kpop, artists sing, dance and they are very visual. So Kpop makes me want to dance and look like them (South Koreans),” says Belen Solis, an Argentine K-Pop fan.

On the other side of town, 24-year-old Jimena Gonzalez and Ludmila Meilan chat every Sunday about Korean music and culture in a radio show called “Hallyu Bridge”.  Hallyu being the Korean term describing the flow of South Korean pop culture.

With a Facebook audience of more than fifteen thousand, Vega radio is the first in Argentina to broadcast 24-hour Kpop music and celebrity gossip to fans across the country.

And Kpop addicts themselves also organize monthly events on Kpop, Korean drama, news, movies and food.

Over the past five years, they’ve managed to attract as many as 1,300 people to each event.

“It’s strange. Although Argentina and Korea are very far away and are even antipodes, there is also a way to reach out to one another in this globalized world. We often connect (culturally) thanks to youtube, a platform where people across the world get together and get to know each other. This way, many get to know Korean culture,” says Ludmila Meilan, a Kpop Event Organiser.

Kpop has also been a blessing for Korean cultural centers across Latin America as the music has acted as a catalyst to made it easier to spread Korean culture in ALL its forms.

“On the one hand, the Korean community has started to open up because they’ve started to feel proud of their culture. It wasn’t very established before so they were more closed. On the other hand, there is a demand from Argentines to get to know Korean culture. Thanks to Kpop, Korean movies and dramas, many Argentines want to try Korean food for example,” says Gabriel Pressello from the Korean Cultural Centre of Buenos Aires.

For the 30 000 Koreans living in Argentina, their influence is felt beyond their numbers.

Here in Buenos Aires, Korean signs blend with Spanish words.

From Kpop to Korean dramas, it is emblematic of the strong cultural ties between two nations on opposite sides of the world.

Kamilia Lahrichi, Channel NewsAsia, Buenos Aires

This video was shot for Channel News Asia and published on September 13, 2016. Click here to watch it.


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