K-Pop group EXP EDITION poses an important question for numerous K-Pop fans: Can there be K-pop without a single Korean member?
Describing themselves as "born in NY, made in Seoul," this all-American K-pop group contains no members of Korean heritage. Only one member, Koki has an Asian heritage, being Japanese-German born. How did these men come to join the K-Pop industry?
Originally started as an experimental project in New York, Columbia University graduate student, Bora Kim, created the group in 2014 by conducting a series of auditions. Coming to the States and seeing the extent of K-pop consumption among Americans, Kim began to wonder "what made something K-pop?" She wanted to see if by teaching a group of non-Koreans how to act like a Korean idol and how to speak Korean that enough could be called K-pop.
Even after the end of the experiment and after Kim had earned her master's degree, the members decided they didn't want to stop there. Four of the six original members decided they wanted to move to Korea to truly debut as a K-Pop group. Making the big move in August of 2016, the four members began to learn Korean and also get vocal and dance training from Korean instructors. Having to wake up at 6 am everyday Bora explains that the members still tear up when they talk about those early days.
The group has come a long way from where it started. Their most recent song. STRESSreleased in January of this year has received many positive responses and the group has also earned themselves a small, but growing fan group. Yet, the group continues to be a controversial one, receiving much criticism and even death threats from people who accuse them of having joined the industry for the money and attempting to undermine the amount of effort and time it takes to become a K-Pop star.
Other controversies such as whether they can ever be authentic "K-Pop" without a single Korean member continues to pose as a critical question in the industry, especially as the influence of K-Pop continues to expand beyond borders. Though it is an important question for critics and produces, it is also an important question for many K-Pop fans over the globe, what do you think it takes to be called K-Pop?
By Bongbong and SongGirl firstname.lastname@example.org