UKP Magazine Spring 2019

Page 1




The tale of the Kpop groups that ended far too soon

Vocalist, dancer, actor, and amateur chef, EXO’s Do Kyungsoo

Q2HAN, Bang Yongguk, Epik High


the sound of




12 RECENT RELEASES EPIK HIGH COVERAGE Epik High wowed the Electric Ballroom in March











WELCOME Welcome to the Spring 2019 issue of UKP Magazine. A lot has happened since our last issue, including UnitedKpop founder, Freya Bigg, stepping down from the team. As I take the reigns for my first issue, the team have proved to be the heart and engine of UnitedKpop - I could not have done this alone. It seems only fitting that my first issue be full of Epik High, throwbacks and zombies. Enjoy!


Lore Walsh Creative Director


STYLE 62 GET THE LOOK Ruffles and Frills 64 MAKE UP High Street Idol looks



Lore Walsh Kristine Phillips

Lore Walsh

Emma Alford Ann Amarawansa Lerah Barcenilla Keeley Burridge Amy Furney Laura Kenny Helen Rodgers Tania Tavares-Pinto Special Thanks



Netflix launches Korean Zombie drama ‘Kingdom’

Onion Productions K Events Freya Bigg Seoul Lite

Emily Stuart Chelsea Visda Janine Kaye


Just like Kpop, K-Beauty is also making waves across the world. K-Beauty products have been available to purchase in lots of different kind of stores across the UK for a little while and now Avon is jumping on the bandwagon. Avon’s new K-Beauty line currently consists of 8 products that include masks for your face and lips, gel eye patches to brighten the undereye area, and a selection of handcreams. The line is affordable with prices ranging from £2.75 to £6 according to Avon’s website. You can purchase items on the Avon website, or from your local Avon representative.

HONNE REBEKA PRANCE RM UK music duo, Honne, have released a new version of ‘Crying Over You’ with Rebeka Prance and BTS’ RM. Teased just a day before release, the collaboration came as a surprise to fans. The track is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Tidal, and available to purchase and download.


Skin Library hosted their first ever BOOKCLUB event inviting popular YouTube duo Q2HAN as their special guests. Fans — or ‘Qtees’ — enjoyed over two hours of fashion and makeup tips, as well as receiving their new Collaborative Box made in partnership with Skin Library. Couldn’t make it? Check out our exclusive coverage of the event where we had the chance to chat with the girls about their stay in London, their fans and what they’re planning to do next. Skin Library is a UK Korean skincare and beauty retailer, that curates products straight from South Korea at an affordable price. Being a relatively new company — launching in 2018 — this is the first of their BOOKCLUB events. Joining them is Q2HAN, who are two sisters, twins actually, who vlog their life in Korea and create videos about fashion, beauty, food, and travel. The atmosphere definitely felt more intimate than your regular meet-up, especially with the grouped seating plan that encouraged you to mingle with the other fans. Soon after settling in, Q2HAN arrived and the room erupted into cheers. Kicking off the event was Abiola Renée, one of the co-founders of Skin Library, who interviewed the girls about their work and their visit to London. The girls came down specifically for London Fashion Week (15th-19th February) and later revealed that it was their first time attending. “We were so nervous!” Qjin says, “We didn’t know what to expect because it’s so different from Korea. For us in Korea, we just go to one location for all the shows so we know what to expect. But this is a totally different atmosphere”

The highlight of the event was definitely the unveiling of Q2HAN’s Collaborative Box, which the girls revealed they had worked on with Skin Library for two months. The box contains six products that the girls highlight as skincare essentials, as well as adding in a little guide for how to use them. The collection includes Beauty of Joseon Cleaning Balm, My Dear Best Friend Bar, Keep Cool Bamboo Toner, Cosrx Advanced Sail 96 Mucin Power Essence, A sheet mask, and 23-Year-Old Badesical Cream. When we asked what they would each recommend to our readers, Qwon said hers would be the hydrogen sheet mask as it is perfect for sensitive skin, while Qjin said the cleansing balm. As the space cleared out, we managed to grab some time with girls and ask a few questions. When talking about their go-to places in London, they mentioned Primark and Topshop among their favourite UK brands. “We actually went to Topshop to buy accessories for Monday and Tuesday’s shows at LFW” Qwon revealed. The girls also mentioned their love for Waitrose, especially because of the various vegan options. Vegetarianism and veganism is something Q2HAN talk about a lot on their channel, often recommending good food joints for fans. When asked about the difficulties of maintaining this particular diet in Korea they said, “It’s so much harder. We had dinner the other day, but we couldn’t eat anything! We were just staring at each other (laughs)”. This event was only one example of the growing phenomenon of K-beauty in the West. In the last 18 Korean beauty trends have been coming over to the West, even influencing its beauty industry. We asked Q2HAN why it’s become so popular. “I think it’s because of Kpop, it’s becoming so global right now. These days one of the trends in K-beauty is collaborating with Kpop artists to market their products” Qjin says. By Ann Amarawansa

BANG YONGGUK IN LONDON On Wednesday 27th March, Bang Yongguk, formerly of B.A.P, took to the stage at Underground in Camden, London. As part of a European tour with K-Events, Bang performed music from his self-titled new EP BANGYONGGUK. Every track enthused the crowd, with ‘Xie Xie’ particularly making an impact, the audience shouting along to the lyrics. Slower music like ‘See You Later’ and ‘AM 4:44’ still kept the momentum going, the sea of neon green Matoki head lightsticks moving to the beat of each song. Despite the sound being a little on the loud side, and the lighting low and basic; the show stole the hearts of Bang fans, and proved that the road ahead should be an interesting one for this former boy group member.

Words and Photography by Lore Walsh



April 3rd – London @ O2 Forum Kentish Town April 5th – Lisbon @ Lisboa ao Vivo April 7th – Paris @ Le Bataclan April 9th – Berlin @ Astra Kulturhaus April 12th – Amsterdam @ Q Factory April 14th – Milan @ Magazzini Generali April 16th – Budapest @ Dürer Kert April 18th – Stockholm @Fryshuset Klubben April 19th – Warsaw @ Palladium April 21st – Moscow @ Izvestia Hal

April 5th – Prague @ Klub Nová Chmelnice April 6th – London @ The Garage April 7th – Warsaw @ Odessa Club April 9th – Budapest @ TRIP April 10th – Dusseldorf April 12th – Rabat @ Cinéma Renaissance April 14th – Madrid @ Gotham the Club

April 16th – Cologne @ Die Kantine April 18th – Warsaw @ Progresja Music Zone April 21st – Athens @Fuzz Club

April 17th – Bochum @ Matrix Bochum April 18th – Lisbon @ Radisson Blu Hotel [Fanmeeting] April 19th – Rabat @ Cinema Renaissance April 22nd – Prague @ Contemporary Dance Studio [workshop] April 23rd – Prague @ Nova Chmelnice April 24th – Warsaw @ Odessa Club April 25th – TBA [workshop] April 28th – Oslo @ Subsdans [workshop]

April 27th – Paris @ Le Trabendo April 28th – London @ Electric Ballroom

May 2nd – Moscow @ Glavclub May 3rd – Warsaw @Progresja May 5th – Berlin @ Astra

May 18th – Amsterdam @ AFAS Live May 21st – Manchester @ Manchester Arena May 22nd – London @ SSE Arena Wembley

April 30th – Berlin @ Columbia Theater

May 8th – Amsterdam @ Melkweg May 9th – Paris @ Casino de Paris May 12th – London @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

May 24th – Berlin @ Max-Schmeling-Halle May 26th – Paris @ Zénith de Paris May 28th – Barcelona @Palau Sant Jordi

June 1st – London @ Wembley Stadium June 2nd – London @ Wembley Stadium

June 7th – Paris @ Stade de France

June 4th – Lisbon @ Time Out Studio June 5th – Madrid @ Cool Stage June 8th – Milan @ Santeria Social Club June 10th – Prague @ Lucerna Music Bar June 12th – Warsaw @ Progresja June 13th – Berlin @ Lido

June 15th – Cologne @ Kantine June 16th – Brussels @ La Madeleine June 18th – Paris @ Trabendo June 20th – Amsterdam @ Melkweg Max June 21st – London @ Islington Academy June 22nd – London @ Islington Academy


By Ann Amarawansa

JANUARY JAY PARK GETS CALLED OUT FOR CULTURAL APPROPRIATION Jay Park caught a lot of heat on social media after sharing a video of Avatar Darko, an artist on his H1GHERMUSIC label. Fans noted he had his hair styled in locs and criticised the singer/rapper for cultural appropriation. In response, Park, compared this — which has become a hot topic as of late — to people who aren’t Asian listening to K-Pop. He said on Instagram: ‘Yooo feeling somebodies music is personal opinion but hating on somebody cause their hairstyle…im sorry but THAT aint it… Jay Park and Avatar Darko never disrespect the culture and always give back’. The seemingly tone-deaf comment only sparked more outrage online, resulting in him trending worldwide on Twitter. Jay Park has since apologised for his comments and took to Twitter to defend himself again and (sort of) apologise.

FEBRUARY MARCH BTS HITS THE GRAMMYS Popular boy-group BTS hit a major milestone in Kpop history by being the first ever Korean act to present at the 2019 Grammys. They presented the award for Best R&B Album of the Year, which went to artist H.E.R — one of the many artists they mentioned wanting to collaborate with. Representing South Korean pride, the boys all wore outfits from Korean designers; with J-Hope wearing designer Kim Seo Ryong, and the others ― Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga and V ― wearing custom suits from JayBaek Couture. The event wasn’t short of memorable moments, including Jungkook unashamedly jamming out to Dolly Parton.

This month saw the debut of another boy group from Big Hit Entertainment. TXT, short for Tomorrow X Together, is a five-member group; consisting of members Yeonjun, Soobin, Beomgyu, Hueningkai, and Taehyun. Hoping to be label’s next success story, the group have already developed a strong following with their mv for debut track, “Crown” reaching over six million views on YouTube after a few hours of its release. Their album “The Dream Chapter: STAR” is currently at the 2nd in the US iTunes charts and in the UK it is up to number three. It’s clear TXT have no intention of slowing down and have already signed a deal with Republic Records, which is the American record label owned by Universal Music Group, as well as being the home to Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Drake.

BURNING SUN SCANDAL In more serious news, the Burning Sun Scandal continues to unfold. The scandal began on January 29th, when a man spoke about about his arrest at the Burning Sun club, linked to BIGBANG’s Seungri. It quickly picked up steam as allegations of sexual assault within the club came to light and accusations of Seungri’s possible involvement in procuring prostitutes for high-paying patrons began circling. Since, it has been revealed that a KakaoTalk group chat exists in which the members have discussed: soliciting prostitutes; covering up crimes; promiscuous behaviour; possible sexual assault; and have even shared photographs and videos taken, without consent, of women during and after sexual encounters. The group chat is confirmed to have included Seungri (BIGBANG), Jung Joon Young (JJY Band and Drug Restaurant), Choi Jonghoon (F.T. Island), Yoo In Suk (Mr Yoo, CEO of Yuri Holdings), Mr Kim (a club MD), the elder brother of a girl group member, a former YG employee, and a friend of JJY’s who appeared on a travel programme with him. Highlight’s Junhyung has also admitted to receiving explicit footage from JJY. All idols involved have left their respective groups and declared they will retire from the industry. Investigations continue to look at members of the chat, but have also prompted wider investigations into corruption within the entertainment industry, police force and government. Only time will tell how deep this goes.







Lee Min-hyuk

The Black Skirts





All Light

The End of Nightmare



Dream of You


Hwang Chi-yeul

Monsta X

The Four Seasons

Take.2 We Are Here



You Made My Dawn


Chery Bullet


Let’s Play Cherry Bullet


Various Artists


Memories of the Alhambra OST


Roh Tae Hyun

Yoon Ji Sung





Only U









I Made

Neon Punch


Watch Out



Kang Min Kyung


Ryeowook Drunk on Love

Chungha XII

MC the Max Circular

Rooftop Moonlight Day/Night

M.O.N.T Going Up

Apink Percent

iKon The New Kids

KNK Lonely Night

Cosmic Girls WJ Stay?

Oneus Light Us

Verivery Veri-Us

Junoflo Statues


Kang Min Kyung 1st Solo Album


Then & Now

Kim Hyun Joong


New Way

White Night


Yoon Jong-shin


Monthly Project




Time For Us





The Dream Chapter: Star

Treasure EP.2: Zero to One

Yearbook 2018

Ha Sung Woon My Moment


Jang Dong Woo

Jeong Se Woon


Plus Minus Zero



I Wanna Be

Thrilla Killa

Jus2 Focus

Heize She’s Fine



R.ook Book




Always Be Your Girl

Show Me





Hong Jin Young

Stray Kids

Lots of Love

Clé 1: Miroh

Epik High

Park Ji Hoon

Sleepless In __________


Wooseok X Kuanlin




Dream Note






The Park in the Night Part Two

I’m A Mess

Park Bom








Mamamoo White Wind

100% Re:tro

Bang Yong Guk Bangyongguk

Everglow Arrival of Everglow

Baek Ye Rin Our Love is Great



IN LONDON It seems hard to sum up the London Epik High stop in words, the limitations of language and physical space feel too restrictive to encompass all thoughts on the night. In the final date of their European Tour, Epik High took to the stage at the Electric Ballroom, Camden a little later than expected. Given the lengthy queue outside the venue that snaked around the block, the delay was only caused by filling the venue to capacity with fans eager to see the hip hop trio in action. With a sixteen year history and lengthy discography, it is without doubt long overdue for the pinnacle of Korean hip hop to hit London. However, the timing felt perfect as the lights went down and DJ Tukutz casually made his way behind the decks - every second of the wait was about to be worth it.

Highs, there were plenty, and they were ‘epik’. Lows, there were none. It is easy to forget the ages of Tablo, Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz as they have an energy that can match and surpass any of Korea’s younger performers. They brought their A game from the first note and continued as if it were their first, or last, time on stage. At times in the show, their chat and commentary made it clear that while on stage there was no other place or moment that mattered - this was the moment to be living in, Epik High and High Skool, collectively encapsulated in the bubble of that one show. It should be hard to create an Epik High setlist that doesn’t miss out something of key importance to their history, time would never allow them to perform everything in their back catalogue that left a lasting mark, but as the show went on, it never felt as if something was missing despite its popularity I doubt anyone would really have minded had they not played ‘Born Hater’ the night was just that immersive. They did perform ‘Born Hater’, however, along with a multitude of favourites including ‘Fan’, ‘Don’t Hate Me’, ‘One’, ‘Burj Khalifa’, ’Home is Far Away’ and tracks from ‘Sleepless In __________’. Tablo carried most of the between-song chat, though still made time to include Tukutz and Mithra despite their limited confidence speaking in English. A naturally charismatic and funny person, Tablo easily entertained as he talked. He translated for Mithra, employing a terrible impression of his deeper-voiced companion - an impression he later did almost identically for Tukutz despite their differing voices. A poignant moment saw Tablo ask who had been with them for ten years, for all sixteen years, since ‘Shoebox’, since ‘Sleepless In __________’ the inclusivity of new and old fans in his questions made no one afraid to say they’d only just heard them, or they were old enough to have grown up with them. Everyone was welcome, and everyone was accepted at the show as they are in the Epik High fandom. There are no competitive Kpop attitudes with Epik, and it resonates at an incredible volume.

As fans thought Tablo’s chat was coming to an end, a group began to chant ‘encore’ at Epik High, only for Tablo to mistakenly think they chant was ‘asshole’. Hilarity ensued, the whole crowd chanted ‘asshole’ at him, and he mused at how amusing it would be if ‘asshole’ was the British way of claiming greatness - Epik High was too good for an ‘encore’, the Brits need to break out the ‘asshole’ chant of appreciation. When time did come for the fans to chant ‘encore’ it was a shame the whole place didn’t erupt into shouts of ‘asshole, asshole, asshole’ despite the desperate attempts from UnitedKpop and fans around us to start it off, it didn’t catch on. Tablo too was disappointed, taking longer to return to the stage in the hope he’d hear what he’d framed as a now oddly endearing term of affection between British fans and Epik High. If they return, UnitedKpop will be heading the fan project to have ‘asshole’ chanted at the trio in replacement of ‘encore’. Epik High is timeless, after sixteen years their music still seeps into your brain and soul, it’s arguable that Epik High today are better than they ever have been. It does not feel ludicrous to say that Epik High could have another sixteen years in them - and hopefully future world tours. It would be a shame to only see Epik High performance once - you’re left wanting more and its a craving that may not be one hundred per cent satisfied by listening to their recorded offerings. Epik High never stop working and creating, only a week splits their European tour from its North American counterpart, and they’re doing all this on the back of producing their latest EP. Independent once more on their OURS label, the group have the freedom to do with their time what they wish, and though we hope a rest and family time is in order upon the completion of their North American Tour, we hope more music is lined up for the future. With ‘Sleepless In __________’ an incredible success, showcasing that they can still surprise and grow, what the future hold is a mystery, and one we cannot wait for.

Photography and words by Lore Walsh

Before embarking on their European tour, Epik High released their latest EP, ‘Sleepless In __________’. The EP features seven tracks; collabrations with Crush, Yuna and Sungwoo Jung-A; and composition by Code Kunst, El Capitxn and Suga of BTS. ‘Sleepless In __________’ sees Epik High explore a more refined sound, with Tukutz serving as a one-man, digital orchestra at times. Each track runs into each other, the EP serving as its own journey. This journey plays out much like insomnia. ‘Sleepless In __________’ draws you into a kind of trance. As you listen, it encapsulates you and no other sound penetrates the atmosphere. Lyrics, as is tradition with Epik High, resonate with an impressive impact. Intro track ‘Sleepless’ utilises a text-to-voice that asks the listener if they have the symptoms of depression-related insomnia. ‘No Different’ strikes the soul with its question “I might not be the one, could you settle for half?”. Closing the EP is ‘Lullaby For A Cat’, fans have been sending videos to Tablo of the effects of the music on their family pet, though this possible coincidence isn’t the most impressive element of the outro. ‘Lullaby For A Cat’ draws on elements from the whole EP, tying up each track in a tidy little bow. This is the kind of album you wish existed in vinyl, the raw nature of vinyl playback exposing the atmospheric elements of ‘Sleepless In __________’ in their full glory. The only flaw there is to find with Epik High’s ‘Sleepless in __________’ is that twenty-one minutes passes too quicky, the repeat function has never seen so much use.

by Lore Walsh

D 1 E N 2 Did #

? r e t t e B e v r e es

A DE CA D E ON By Kristine Phillips

Described as being one of the highest selling girl groups of all time with 66.5 million records to their name, 2NE1 had their shot of fame and success for nearly 6 years. Perhaps revolutionary and ahead of their time, they released empowering tracks that spoke volumes to the masses of their fans who could relate connect with them on a personal level. They involuntary parted ways as a group officially when the news broke of their disbandment in November 2016, the members cited that they had no prior knowledge that this announcement would be taking place. It opened up a pit of speculation over whether this was a premature end to a group who could have gone on to continue doing what they did best, releasing successful hit music and breaking stereotypes. The confident, bold and selfproclaimed ‘Baddest Female’ leader, CL, had an American solo debut lined up for her. Articles upon articles had been crowing in anticipation over her upcoming album for a 2015 possible release. Speeding up to the present, it’s been years since that has passed and news and discussions have nearly altogether dropped about her. She participated in the variety show ‘Livin’ the Double life’ in 2017 alongside BIGBANG’s Taeyang and she was able to use as an outlet to express her emotions, despite struggling as she looked back in hindsight over the topic of the group’s disbandment. The show was also taken as an opportunity for her to be able to show the behind the scenes progress of her working

on music. 2018 was not a quiet year to say the least for CL, it comprised of highlight events such as being one of the artists chosen to perform for the Olympics Closing Ceremony in March, her debut film role in Mile 22 which premiered in August, being the first Korean artist to have a 73 Question Vogue interview on YouTube. On the music side of matters, she made two separate features on the My Little Pony soundtrack ‘No Better Feelin’ and also in the Black Eyed Peas’ latest comeback song ‘Dopeness’. Not to mention she also had solo gigs littered throughout the year, however none of which were promoted by YG. Earlier on in the year in January, she uploaded a message to express her regret that she was not able to release any music the past year and wanted to uphold her promise that she had made. She released a snippet of a new unreleased song, which later was deleted. However, it is speculated that following the leaking of her own song ‘All In’ on her Instagram account, that this radio silence was punishment for going against her company. Falling back to May 2018, as a result of her fans’ concern and questions over when she will be dropping new music, she posted a video on her Instagram. Scooter Braun confirmed that the music is ready, that “it’s time for it to come out” - which implies that is a barrier preventing this release. Later on in November 2018 – CL tweeted about the rumour that she and Scooter had parted ways and dismissed it, suggesting that there is

still something in the works. It’s just unknown whether or not the music will get released, which brings the question over whether CL will leave YGE when the times comes for her contract expiration date. Though, if her responses to fans on Instagram may raise some light, there seems to be a relatively good chance that she will move to an entertainment company who will not shun her. Park Sandara may be the most underestimated member in the group, she’s confided that at times she’s felt that she didn’t fit in, that she wasn’t up to standards needed to be a contributing part of 2NE1. Perhaps during the final stages leading up to the group’s debut in 2009, she did not want to let such an opportunity to slip through her grasp, and as a result she stepped up to the table and in the words of YG “made the impossible...possible”. Following the disbandment, there was a period that she confirmed that she was shaken and struggled with coming to terms with it. Though, as time has passed, looking at her schedule from last year she’s thriving and busier than ever. She’s certainly the most active on social media, a picture of her in airports never normally far away with the next venture awaiting her. Dara renewed her contract with YGE along with CL, however she’s remained to be stable on the public radar by utilising the connections she made over the years. With achievements like being involved in ‘Cheese in the Trap’, ‘Get It Beauty’, ‘Real Men 300’ and more recently

‘Video Star’ securely under her belt, she continues to work harder to prove her worth not only in the industry but to her own company. There has been little to none support on a public scale from YGE, it appears that it would only come into fruition when it suited the company or helped to improve the overall brand and reputation. It’s questionable whether Dara would have still maintained a relatively busy schedule had she relied on her company for career opportunities. For one half of one of the biggest contributors to the company, they don’t deserve to be left on the shelf to collect dust until they are called upon after waiting when it is finally their turn. This does however brings up the matter of whether or not she may consider staying with YGE once her contract is due to expire. Park Bom had been given on an undetermined hiatus when her controversy decided to rear it’s head once again in 2014. While she had gradually returned back on social media in little spurts, the singer was unable to sit back any longer and watch as her name would get dragged through the mud without being able to defend herself. In April 2018, she had an exclusive interview with Sports Kyunghyang in an attempt to clear her name. Bom acknowledged that she had been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and went on to state that she had been taking a form of medication that was not normally prescribed to treat it, thus it didn’t help her condition. She also went on to explain that she was unaware that Adderall, the medication that was brought over from the US and a suitable form of medication for her condition, was an illegal substance in South Korea. She outlined her

case, raising her hands up to declare that she understood that she was in the wrong, and opened up about struggling with the onslaught of online hate that nearly caused her to leave singing behind her. YGE showed one of the only signs of public support following the news of Bom’s solo comeback that will be due for release in March of this year. It’s been argued that perhaps a display of support from the YG Management might have been useful in sweeping away misunderstandings that took place around the controversy. It only shows a sign of neglect by letting one of the artists under the care of the company with the prolonged excuse of ‘selfreflection’. She was left to remain in the shadows, unprioritised and used as a scapegoat for the disbandment of 2NE1. Interestingly enough, the one occasion that comes to mind that was quite possibly the quickest statement that YGE had released in regards to Park Bom was when she talked about possibly being signed to ‘The Black Label during an Instagram live video in May 2017. The official statement that was released had dismissed the claims made by Bom and could be seen as just a public

display of severing the ties even further in order to save face for the sake of the company. Though given that Bom also made a surprise guest appearance on the YGE Netflix show ‘YG Future Strategy Office’ which was released last year, with the showrunner Seungri having no doubt helped to orchestrate the featuring of his former labelmate, the notion of the infamous ‘YG Family’ isn’t all just for show. The youngest of the group Gong Minzy entered into the harsh reality of the industry at the age of 15. She made the decision to leave YGE in April 2016 to branch out, find her own identity and to move forward with a fresh start. From an interview with Billboard, dated released December 2018, there were initial plans for her to have a solo debut around 2011 that were later scrapped. During the dry months that left 2NE1 on a sudden hiatus, she found herself with minimal activities and a limited schedule. As a result, she had to seek other means to evolve and progress further, which led to her opening up her own dance studio ‘Millennium Dance Academy’ in October 2015. In the Billboard article, the topic of a support system when she was an artist in YGE was brought into light (or perhaps lack thereof) and how she fell into depression during periods of her career. It can be easy to overlook someone who had experienced success and fame, to be unaware of the thoughts that trouble them. While they may take on the role of being an ‘idol’, this does not in turn take away

the fact that they are humans who struggle emotionally behind closed doors just like any other person would. The interview touched on the stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in South Korea, how it is brushed under the carpet as being trivial problems. It’s not often a subject that is freely talked about, but it showed that even in the darkest times in life, it is possible to draw strength from others and yourself and that there’s nothing wrong or ‘weak’ to ask for help. It may be argued that there was no priority given to her, in terms of her non-existent solo activities, being the only member to not have a solo debut when she was an YG artist. However, it may have inspired her with the desire to find her own path, to allow herself to opportunity that was previously denied to her. While her departure from YGE did inspire a discord amongst the fans, there are some paths that have to walked alone. On a brighter turn of events, she was able to meet her fans as a solo artist in April 2017 with her first EP ‘Minzy Work 01. ‘Uno’’ which was later followed up with her latest full English track ‘All of You Say’ in November 2018. Looking at each of the members’ years in 2018, it wasn’t an easy ride for any of them. You never see the full picture of what they may be going

through, the tears, the words left unspoken balanced by bright smiles and laughter when they have minireunions. With CL, it’s undeniable that the momentum for this album has fallen short to what it could have been, the delays and backtracks have only proven to shield her from the public and thus interest had died down massively. She hasn’t allowed herself to completely fall into the shadows. It is clear that she has been working behind the scenes to ensure that some progress has been made, regardless of whether her company actively shows support. From Bom’s own experience, sometimes silence isn’t the most appropriate method to resolving something. She learnt that there would always be people who would doubt her words and curse her regardless, but it must have taken a hefty amount of courage to stand up for herself and speak her truth to the public. And now, she can move forward in her life without the full weight of the pressure of the controversy hanging over her. Park Bom didn’t give up to become a singer all those years ago after facing rejection countless times and she certainly didn’t give up now. Dara rarely falters when it comes to her

work ethic, despite often belittled over being the visual of the group with the bare minimum of lines. She could have easily quit while she was ahead during her trainee days and accepted that she did not share the same talents that the other members had. Instead, she didn’t choose the easy way out, and one of the biggest achievements that she can say that she’s gotten out of the experience would be that “we accomplished that, 2NE1 did that”, because they all bring something to the group that made it unique. Minzy touched on the matter of the insecurities that she has faced about herself when she was promoting with 2NE1, how they were not regarded as conforming with the kind of image girl groups were known for. But that’s what made them stand out, going against the grain of what was trendy allowed them to create a style that people grew to associate them with. While they had uplifting songs like ‘Ugly’ that tried to convey an empowering message, and they were able to use their pain to create music that would help others. They unknowingly performed their last official stage as a group during the MAMA awards in 2015, with CL bringing the girls out one last time to perform their classics ‘Fire’ and ‘I Am The Best’. The legacy left behind from this girls is that their songs continue to be well-loved in South Korea, with handfuls of artists covering their hit songs to this day. 2NE1 surpassed expectations of an average South Korea group during their time, and like the name of their last tour, they really gave ‘All or Nothing’ for themselves and their fans and that couldn’t be disputed.

If you’ve been knocking around the Kpop community on Twitter for long enough, chances are you’ve already heard of ATEEZ. An eight-member group from KQ Entertainment, they’ve been making a name for themselves through sleek choreography and composing credentials.

A DEBUT TO REMEMBER ATEEZ is barely five months old. They debuted in October 2018 with ‘Pirate King’ and ‘Treasure’ serving as their title tracks. Yet, despite being such a young group, they already have achievements and a sound that sets them apart.

It’s an all-Korean group, but they’re already expanding in international ways. You might recognise leader Hongjoong, rapper Mingi, dancer Wooyoung, and maknae Jongho from their stint on YG’s MIXNINE.

Their first EP sold over twenty thousand copies, plus a thousand in the US market. Their second EP, released January 15, 2019, has similar numbers - in a fraction of the time.

Members know Japanese and English, and the group’s first Youtube-launched reality show was an American adventure. When they were still known as KQ Fellaz, they travelled to Los Angeles to train with world-class performers and choreographers. Among them, the prestigious Millenium dance studio.

ATEEZ is growing and their fandom, named ATINY, is too. Part of their appeal is that their sound and their look harks back to an older era of Kpop. Fans have already been drawing similarities between ATEEZ and hardedged idol groups like Infinite, Beast and, their fellow label-mate, Block B.

ATEEZ is a performance group with a tight-knit relationship with their fans, who also chose their group name. This fandom, already so robust for rookies, is what is carrying ATEEZ through the ranks of Kpop groups to watch in 2019 and beyond.

‘Pirate King’, their debut performance video filmed against the warm-toned sand dunes of Morocco, manages to be gritty and toothy without being dark. It’s a track that leads with heavy bass. But it uses an aesthetic contrast between overly-computerised vocals and an ascending, almost hollow-sounding percussion hook to give depth while lightening the song at the same time. There’s sophistication and maturity in their sound, and it’s continually developing. Hongjoong is a composer while several other members, including Mingi, contribute lyrics.

It’s clear why fans sense a connection between ATEEZ and the great self-composing groups first established in days gone by. There is an element of that, but if ATEEZ were vying to become that type of idol, they’ve done it in a way that completely embraces the modernisation of Kpop. BREAKING BARRIERS KQ Entertainment is a tiny company, even though they house top-tier group Block B. Despite this, ATEEZ have clocked up 13 million views in one month for their latest comeback ‘Say My Name’. This second EP, ‘Treasure: Zero To One’, has landed at number five on the World Album charts and a first-ever Billboard Word Digital chart debut. In January, they announced their US tour where they’ll be making appearances in Dallas, Brooklyn, Chicago, Atlanta and LA. Their pre-debut activities, which include their American training and appearances in MIXNINE, has already made them comfortable, charismatic performers. ATEEZ’s American tour and their consistent sales signals a group that’s going to flourish with a global fanbase. In Korea too, their album sales are growing impressively.

What will really propel them to the next stage of stardom is more consistent media engagement. Despite the popularity and attention amongst fans and general K-POP fandom, ATEEZ has been in relatively few interviews. There’s an air of mystery around them, in that sense, where fans feel as if they’re on the precipice of a great career in music but they don’t know how that’s going to take shape yet. Instead, the group, like most modern idols, has been cultivating an online relationship with fans. Jongho, the youngest member and the main vocal, even went viral with a video depicting him splitting an apple perfectly in half with his bare hands while belting out a high-note. ATEEZ is a group with a lot to offer. Particularly as the Kpop industry has more and more groups vying for attention, their approach to performance and to music has carved out a niche for them to learn, grow and develop. For their next genre, Hongjoong wants to try trance, while vocalist Wooyoung wants to try a sexy concept. As rising stars, the question isn’t whether ATEEZ will be able to pull it off, but rather how they’ll do it.




The trend for self made artists in the Kpop industry has been on the rise over the past few years. Composers, lyricists, choreographers, all tied into the idol image. It’s a demand caused by the ever changing perspective fans and what being an idol actually means. Whether this makes an artist more genuine in those fans eyes is yet to be seen. But there is a certain honesty that can come with offering your own creation to those that are ready to tear it down or build it up. This honesty is certainly visible in an artist like Bang Yongguk. The leader of B.A.P since 2012, it’s safe to say that he has been through some trying times in his musical career. Making his first debut in 2008 as a member of an underground hip-hop group named Soul Connection, he started from an early age, being discovered for the rap lyrics he posted online. He was contacted by TS Entertainment 2010 about the possibility of joining an idol group. His initial worries of being constrained in the style of music he could produce were shot down by TS and eventually he agreed. His first commercial success came with a collaboration with Song Jieun. ‘Going Crazy’ topped the Gaon Chart and brought Yongguk a great deal of attention, despite his still being a trainee. Later in the same year, he debuted in a rap duo with Zelo, who would go to to become one of his future members. B.A.P, or Best Absolute Perfect, debuted in the first month of 2012 and were an immediate success. Each single released saw them gain more popularity, and at the time, they were considered one of the top boy groups alongside the likes of EXO, who debuted shortly after. However, as we all know now, this was not to last. In 2014, all six members revealed they had filed a lawsuit against TS due to their unfair treatment. As the leader of the group, Yongguk kept the members together, dealing with much of the fallout himself. Though the group would eventually return to the company a year later, this event changed the course of the members’ careers, and indeed their personal lives for good. For Yongguk, a personal struggle with panic

disorder began. Yet despite this, he remained a pillar of strength for the younger members, who followed him diligently. In 2016, he announced that he would not be taking part in the groups upcoming promotions in order to give himself time to deal with his own personal issues. It takes a great deal of courage to be open about the struggles you’re facing in an industry as critical as Korean entertainment, yet Yongguk did not let the issue go silently. By the time he made his return to the group, he had gained a new voice to speak out with, both in his compositions and himself. ‘Wake Me Up’ was, and still is, a very personal song. “This is an endless tunnel in darkness with no light [...] I need to find myself.” The music video reflects this in its diversity and representation of mental illness, as unflinching from the topic as it can be without straying into controversial territory. Not until his solo releases would we see something this honest, and it made the impact of his return that much greater. ‘Portrait’, for one example, paints a reflective picture without words, something that strayed away from his usual skilled delivery through rap. Having been unable to talk for most of his early years in life, the tying together of words and music, or music as a way of speaking without words, comes through as something that affected him greatly. In August of 2018, he finally broke ties with TS Entertainment, venturing fully into a solo career. His first release, ‘Hikikomori’, refused to shy away from the events of the previous years. The term, Japanese in origin, is defined as a psychological condition on which people shut themselves off from the world and lock themselves away. There’s a great deal to be admired about the way in which his lyrics refuse to hide the place of pain from which they were written, and it can only be a good thing to hope that this level of expression becomes far more accepted from those in the spotlight. Bang Yongguk strives to write that into reality, and with a new solo chapter just to begin, seeing where this takes him both artistically and personally will be a journey of its own.

Rookie Spotlight: The New Generation By Emma Alford The battle lines are well and truly drawn in 2019, with several groups exploding onto the scene in their own unique image. Each group has a lot to live up to as they each follow in the footsteps of well loved artists and companies. With that lingering over their debut, they have certainly impressed and proved that the war to get Rookie of The Year will be the toughest bout yet.


Itzy Debut Track:

“Dalla Dalla” Debut Date: 12th February 2019 Company: JYP Entertainment

Debut Track: “Ring Ring Ring” Debut Date: 9th January 2019 Company: Jellyfish Entertainment

Following in the footsteps of Miss A, Wonder Girls and TWICE; the five member girl group has been talked about long before their formation as the fabled Jeon Somi group. However, with her departure from the company, the girls have certainly proved their own talents. Other JYP artists have recognised their potential and even dubbed one member, Yeji as the company’s “Hidden Weapon”. Other members have also been praised for their experience; ranging from a former SM trainee and the #1 ranked female contestant of MIXNINE. In mere hours after their debut, ITZY’s music video gained over thirteen million views and smashed the record set by fellow rookie, IZ*ONE

Verivery’s style is a far step away from the concept masters, VIXX but they have caught the attention of fans with their nod to the 1990s boyband aesthetic. We have already seen the boys in action with their 2018 pre-release track, “Super Special” but they are continuing with their fresh style and playful energy with their first album release, “Vari-Us” - a far step away from the fierce concepts showcased by their label-mate and from the ever-growing number of male groups debuting this year.

ONEUS Debut Track:

“Valkyrie” Debut Date: 9th January 2019 Company: RBW Entertainment ONEUS made their debut on the same day as VERIVERY but already has a lot of anticipation behind them in their rookie year. Following in the footsteps of vocal powerhouses, MAMAMOO & VROMANCE, the group have a lot to live up to as the first dance-focused unit debuting under RBW Entertainment. The members have already gained a wide range of experience in the Survival Show circuit but ONEUS is actually part of a more promising project. The group will act as the dance unit and perform alongside their band counterpart, ONEWE – who are due to debut later in the year.

Cherry Bullet Debut Track: “Q&A”

Debut Date: 21st January 2019 Company: FNC Entertainment Levelling up from trainee to Idol, Cherry Bullet becomes the first female dance group in FNC Entertainment since AOA descended into our hearts. The girls all carry their own speciality, ranging from Happy Virus, fierce dance abilities and a machine gun?! Their quirky style, based on video games, have caught the attention of the public who have fallen in love their lovable personalities through their recent reality show; “Insider Channel Cherry Bullet”. They have already shown admiration for their seniors, AOA and being inspired from their success, the girls are locked, loaded and ready to fire with their energetic debut.

TREI Debut Track: “Gravity”

Debut Date: 19th February 2019 Company: Banana Culture With the success of EXID, a boy group from Banana Culture has been long awaited by fans but the trio dropped their first mini-album in late February. For a rookie group, some members already have experience in the industry. You may remember specific members such as Lee Jaejun - who debuted with C-Clown under the stage name, Maru. Changhyun participated in the controversial survival show, MIXNINE and was originally due to debut as a duo with Jaejun. Juntae was added to the unit in 2018 to complete the full line-up who acts as EXID’s younger brother group.

Throwback Spotlight: Hits to Remember

2018 marked a change in momentum in Kpop that only looks set to continue throughout 2019. Though none of today’s success could have happened without those who paved the way. Many memorable Kpop tracks celebrate anniversaries this year and the ones from the first quarter of the year are some of the most pivotal for their artists.

By Lore Walsh


Track: “Dear Mother” Released: 13th January 1999 Anniversary: 20 Years

Released on their debut date, ‘Dear Mother’ celebrates the same 20th anniversary as the group this year. Though it took g.o.d until their second album (Chapter 2) to really leave a lasting impression, ‘Dear Mother’ is still considered one of g.o.d’s greatest songs.

‘Dear Mother’ tells of a parent struggling to get by to raise her child, foregoing meals or eating foods she hates to make sure her child eats. It was a message that resonated across the country given the financial crisis at the time.

SG Wannabe

Track: “Timeless” Released: 20th January 2004 Anniversary: 15 Years

Also a debut track, ‘Timeless’ by SG Wannabe (the SG representing Simon and Garfunkel) topped the charts and propelled the group to fame despite their lack of promotion or television appearances - the group wanted their music to speak for itself.

SG Wannabe last promoted as recently as November 2016, under Stone Music Entertainment, with an EP that charted in the top 20 of the Gaon Chart.

Girls’ Generation Track: “Gee” Released: 7th January 2009 Anniversary: 10 Years

‘Gee’ is a track it is hard to avoid as a Kpop fan. It was the best-selling single of 2009 in South Korea and held the top spot on Music Bank for a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks.

‘Gee’ led the way for the Korean bubblegum pop trend, a style that almost all Kpop girl groups will sample at some point in their careers.

Super Junior

Without doubt the most famous of Super Junior’s songs, ‘Sorry Sorry’ topped the charts in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. During its promotional period it won ten accolades.

Track: “Sorry Sorry” Released: 12th March 2009 The catchy track combines American Anniversary: 10 Years funk and R&B styles to create a fun and easy listening track. Trying not to sing along to the chorus of ‘Sorry Sorry’ is almost an impossibility.


From their debut EP ‘Got It?’, GOT7 made their mark on Kpop in quick time, scoring themselves a Billboard World Albums number 1.

Track: “Girls Girls Girls” Released: 16th January 2014 Five years on it may be questionable if ‘Girls Girls Girls’ ranks as one of their Anniversary: 5 Years best songs, but it certainly set the tone for things to come. With only five years under their belts, we may have much more to see from GOT7.


B.A.P’s first album ‘First Sensibility’ proved the worth of the group, with a whole host of self-penned music.

Track: “1004 (Angel)” ‘1004 (Angel)’ combines impressive lyrics Released: 3rd February 2014 with a highly polished visual. Taking avantage of the deeply concepted, Anniversary: 5 Years narrative led mvs of the period, B.A.P proved they could tell a story, comment on moral and social matters, and captivate with more than just their music.


Achieving a number one on the Gaon Digital Chat, ‘Come Back Home’ became one of the biggest-selling Kpop songs of 2014, despite promotion being halted due to the Sewol tragedy.

Track: “Come Back Home” Released: 2nd March 2014 ‘Come Back Home’ combined R&B, reggae Anniversary: 5 Years and hip hop style, reaffirming their more experimental style. One of the best selling girl groups of all time, 2NE1 rarely missed the mark with their music, and ‘Come Back Home’ was no different.

p K e h t f o r e e r a C g n i The Fleet KE A R U A L Y B L IA R O O P IN IO N E D IT

It is a common tale – the Kpop group that ended too soon. The idea of the fleeting time artists have to create music within the structured industry has been around almost as long as the genre has. So why do so many groups break up so early into their careers and what effect does this have on Kpop as a whole? It is a well-known fact that in the industry the bigger the company, the better chance the artist has after debut. This is due to a lot of different factors but ultimately boils down to two major advantages: money and resources. Although all idol trainees go through similar struggles, if you are part of one of the so-called “Big 3”, there are so many advantages you have over a trainee from a small company. So, this raises the question of whether many Kpop bands are successful for their talent or whether privilege plays a bigger part in success than we as fans would like to admit. This becomes even more obvious when comparing how many Kpop bands break up within a few years of debut between these two types of companies. We’ve all heard the stories, a promising group of young people with amazing talents that just don’t make it. It is a well-known tragedy that is repeated time and time again. However, how many of these sad tales do you hear coming from large, well-funded companies? With the nature of how structured the Kpop industry is, it’s almost impossible for a group to become a success without the right support and money to promote them.


However, there have been some idols that have proved the system wrong and broken the pattern of small companies not being very successful. One group that is particularly worth mentioning is SEVENTEEN who at their time of debut were emerging from a somewhat bruised and rough Pledis Entertainment. The company in 2015 had seen some small success with NU’EST but ultimately were seeing very little success with any of their artists. With the company being almost bankrupt, SEVENTEEN had to practically debut themselves with very little help and funding. This was very nicely twisted by Pledis when the band debuted and labelled SEVENTEEN as “self-producing idols” as if the then mostly teenage boys decided to do most of the work out of sheer talent rather than necessity. This was a very clever marketing trick as it created a hype surrounding the group, SEVENTEEN were the ones who could do everything themselves. This label combined with very well thought out comebacks, thrusted the group into the public’s attention and launched their career. So, if a Kpop group is talented without agency support does that mean that they’re more likely to be successful? Well not necessarily. It is not only groups that are from smaller agencies that fail to reach their full potential at the hands of their own company. Take f(x) for example, at the start of the girl groups career, they achieved a decent amount of success and were supported by their agency, SM Entertainment. However, as time went on

pop Idol

f(x) had less comebacks and seemed to fade out of the public’s attention. As of now, they have not had a comeback since 2015, leaving fans wondering why a group with so much potential hasn’t released anything in 3 years. Now, it is unknown whether the reason that the girls from f(x) have chosen to pursue solo activities is due to a lack of support from their agency, but this certainly has been suggested both by fans and the members themselves. This certainly wouldn’t be a shock however, as there is an ongoing pattern of large companies such as SM and JYP simply getting bored of idols. Its almost impossible to discuss SM Entertainment without talking about the blatant favouritism the company has for certain idols over others. In short, it is simply easier for a company to constantly debut groups that follow upcoming trends than choosing to develop an older band that has already achieved success. The Wonder Girls summed this phenomenon up when discussing with ‘Entertainment Relay’ why JYP stopped writing their songs saying, “I think he’s more interested in TWICE”. It is widely known that large company CEO’s get fed up of bands quicker than children get sick of toys and this does nothing but further contribute to the shortening life span of Kpop groups. So, is there a reason why the life of the Kpop group is so fleeting? One thing that can be said is that Kpop is a genre that can be very centred around trends and what is “new” and “fresh”. So maybe this is why the idea of

the survival show has been so successful. With shows like Produce 101, companies can create groups out of what they perceive to be the “best of the best” in the industry and then set a time limit on how long they want the groups to last. This means that they get maximum profit with minimum dedication and effort. Kind of like babysitting a child – you get to give them back afterwards. Although these shows are very successful, its questionable of whether the artists gain anything from being funnelled through this music making machine apart from a very short career and possible poor mental health. Is the short life span of the Kpop artist something that is just part of the genre or should companies be expected to do more for their artists?

Picnic Playlist

by Amy Furney

Whether you’re enjoying some sun time at the park or at the beach, queue this perfect playlist and enjoy the upbeat vibes while the sun shines on your skin! What are you waiting for? Get your music turnin’ and “dance like no one is watching”!

Peach – IU: The sound of the recorder and triangle reminds us of music lessons as a child. With Spring being the season associated with baby animals, this nostalgia-inducing track is a perfect way to kick off our relaxed playlist! April Story – APRIL: This midtempo tune is a great hybrid of soft string melodies and some more lively electric guitars. It really seems as though musical theatre and Kpop have collided. Spring Day – BTS: With such a fitting name, it was almost certain that this track would make our list. But, with such a soft sound and angelic vocals, surely that isn’t a bad thing? Flower (You) - VAV: The group’s sixth single has a Reggae inspired tone which is perfect for shifting the tone of our playlist a little, it is time to show off your moves on the picnic mat! All Night – ASTRO: The minimalistic opening is fresh, albeit a little underwhelming. But, once the electro-dance hook kicks in, it is easy to see why it has made it onto our playlist! TOUCH – NCT 127: NCT is well-known for creating songs that just make you want to burst out dancing. But, TOUCH turns away from that, and the R&B-esque sound leaves you wanting to bop your head to the beat without breaking a sweat. WANT - Taemin: Taemin’s recent title track is undeniably catchy. The groovy melodies, the pounding baseline and enticing vocals mean that this recently released song is on its way to becoming a Spring 2019 anthem. Forever Young – BLACKPINK: With the group set to tour the UK soon, it was impossible not to mention them here! With their new EP supposedly scheduled for March, the quartet is bound to be one of the most successful groups this season. Spring Breeze – Wanna One: This pop-dance track may have been released in the middle of winter, but the bright colours in the music video and catchy hook has still got us playing it on repeat. Dance The Night Away – Twice: This one is for all of you who still have your dancing shoes on after jamming out all day to our playlist!




t has become so easy to judge a book by its cover, with internet virality something can appear and disappear in less time than it takes to make anything more than a rash judgement. Oli London went viral last year after having cosmetic surgery with the aim of looking like Jimin of BTS. Whether he has been successful in that aim is questionable, and because of this Oli has received more than his fair share of internet hate and trolling. At the beginning of the year, Oli released his first attempt to break into Kpop with a pop single named ‘Perfection’. This too has left people unsure and directing negative commentary at the twenty-nine-year-old Londoner. But have we judged him too soon? We spoke to Oli to find out more about him, his love of Kpop and BTS, his surgery and his music - would our opinions change in the hour we spent talking?

Hyuna obviously, now she lost her Cube Entertainment deal but, you know, I have so much respect for her for doing that because in Kpop it’s very difficult for any artist to live a life so she took that step. I’ve liked her since she was in 4Minute. I like Fiestar, Red Velvet. I listen to so many very varied artists, I watch the Kpop Countdown like every single week on YouTube, always kind of keeping up. I’m obsessed with them [BTS] I love BTS so much but I like to listen to kind of a varied range you know girl groups, solo artists and stuff. “ His obsession with Kpop and Korean culture developed very quickly upon his arrival in Korea to teach English. Why did he choose Korea?

the winter and it was so beautiful in the winter. I mean the snow was very heavy it was so quiet there are no cars on the road and it’s just so so charming. I just kind of fell into it and then when I went there I immediately fell in love. The people are incredibly kind and sweet and helpful and it’s just the entire culture from the history to the fashion to the food and just everyone looks so beautiful, everyone looks like a kpop star so I kind of fell in love with that as well.” Oli London recently released his own ‘Kpop’ single. ‘Perfection’ is in majority an English track, with a slight injection of Korean. “It’s not everyone’s taste but, I love it I think it’s so catchy. Some people find it controversial but what I’m trying to do with the song, I get so many haters I’m trying to say ‘look, I’m perfect where I am now. This is what makes me happy now, doing plastic surgery, doing these things for myself is what makes me feel perfect. The concept was like, I’m living in my own world perfection, super happy and then the message to everyone else is, if you’re different, if you stand out in society and people judge you, just don’t listen to them do whatever makes you feel perfect. That’s the kind of message, obviously, I don’t encourage people to have plastic surgery because that’s not what I’m about, but I encourage people if they’re different, to just embrace that and love themselves and know that they’re perfect. So for me, I feel perfect because of the plastic surgery, that’s just something that makes me feel good. But with other people, I just want people to feel perfect In their own way especially the underdogs, the people who

“I don’t encourage people to have plastic surgery because that’s not what I’m about”

Oli is outspoken in his love and obsession for BTS, particularly Jimin - but is BTS the only Kpop artist he likes or listens to? “I lived in Korea in 2013 so I kind of fell in love with the music at the time. So there was a boy band called Speed, who I’m still obsessed, with but they don’t exist. Oh my god, one of my favourite songs is one of their songs. And then there’s Big Bang, 4Minute, Girls Generation. I love Teen Top and BtoB. I mean I love so many different Kpop groups, but that’s the kind of ones I first started listening to. I mean now obviously BTS, you know I liked them when they first came up with like Bulletproof. I love Fire and stuff. I’m trying to think who else.

“It was quite random actually, I mean I’ve worked in a few countries. I’ve worked in America and in Ethiopia doing charity projects. I was like 22/23 at the time so I just wanted to travel more and I’d literally googled one day working abroad and then a teaching program came up in Korea and I mean I’m fascinated by history in Asia. So I love kind of ancient Chinese and Japanese history and I didn’t really know too much about Korea. I knew some of their history but I didn’t know too much and I’m just I’m very much fascinated by different cultures and history. So when I saw that come up I thought wow let me give this a shot and then you know I was a successful applicant and then the I went there for a year. I had a threeweek training program and it was in

are different in society and kind of outcasts and put-down - it’s a real kind of anthem for them, just to kind of know that they’re perfect.” Does Oli have any musical training? “I’ve been having vocal coaching from some of my friends who’ve been producing my track. Obviously, I used a bit of autotune - I’m sure that’s the number one criticism. But I love the sounds of auto-tune and maybe I used a little bit too much on the track, that’s what everyone’s saying, but um I like the sound of it because it kind of goes with the theme of perfection. I sound almost robotic, kind of like a doll or something so that went with the theme but no, not necessarily musical training.” Some listeners have commented on his use of Korean in the track. Are we to assume he has some knowledge of the Korean language? “Yeah, of course, I lived there when I was younger. I just wanted to do something abroad and I love travelling so I did English teaching in Korea. When I was there I had like a co-teacher that was Korean so I learned a lot of words there and I have weekly Korean lessons as well in London. The trouble for me is I’ve got such a bad memory, like when I read a book I can’t remember what I’ve just read. I had a two-hour lesson in Korean last week and I can’t remember a single thing. “I remember when I hear Korean people talk, it triggers in my head so when I’m watching like a Kdrama or something that I hear the words then I remember it so I can’t necessarily remember it straight away but it’s when I hear it kind of in practice and when I’m speaking with my Korean

friends then I can kind of trigger my memory.” Did anyone outside of Kpop inspire ‘Perfection’? Who else inspires Oli? “I mean well basically with my music video Mariah Carey was my inspiration because like she lounges around and stuff that was the kind of the idea behind my video the perfection. I’m kind of in my own world I can’t notice what’s going on

“BTS are incredible ambassadors for young people. When they did the speech at the United Nations they really resonated with a lot of people.” around me. So she inspires me a lot, I love her, she’s got such a great sense of humour. I love Angelina Jolie so much because she does so much for charity, she goes to Syria and Turkey to help with the refugee camps and another one of my idols is Queen Rania of Jordan. I met Queen Rania very briefly when I was in Malibu in California, she just happened to be in a makeup shop and she had no guards, it was just her and her daughter, the Princess, and I

literally just had to speak to her but I didn’t want to disturb her too much because she was just being casual it was a day off. She does so much charity work, her country they’ve got over a million Syrian refugees. I really look up to people like that and obviously, BTS are incredible ambassadors for young people. When they did the speech at the United Nations they really resonated with a lot of people. I look up to people that give back to the world.” So how did this all happen? Oli London isn’t a name we know from English language pop music. “I never ever thought this would happen - releasing my music. When I was in Korea I honestly looked up to Kpop stars every day. I watch BTS on the kpop countdown and stuff and I would just think ‘oh my god, they’re amazing, I wish I could be a Kpop star’ but I just thought that was like some dream that would never happen. It’s just something you look up to, you think that’s never gonna happen to me, and it just is weird it just happened recently. My friend is a big music producer in the UK, he produces for a lot of artists and he didn’t even ask me - he just wrote me a song it was in English and I said ‘oh my god’ I love it so much, but I want to make it Kpop’ because I’m obsessed with Kpop and if he was gonna make me a song anyway I thought I might as well make it Kpop. Then I got my Korean friend who lives in Seoul to translate some of the lyrics into Korean and obviously the chorus is Perfection and then you have a kind of echo in the background with the Korean word for Perfection. I used just a few verses in this one because it’s my first video and I wanted to see what the reaction would be, because obviously, I’m trying to spread kpop to new audiences so

if I did the song in full Korean it’s not necessarily going to sell and do as well in English-speaking audiences. In my next song I’m gonna use more Korean, but this particular one I wanted to just give people a hint, mixing in with the English, so people can discover kpop. “Then they’re gonna think what is Kpop, what is BTS? They’re gonna google it then, they’re gonna fall in love because every time I tell someone about BTS that haven’t heard of it they get addicted. Like my doctor who does all my procedures and injections, every time I go there she’s listening to Kpop. “I just get everyone addicted so that’s just what I’m trying to do, spread kpop and through Kpop people want to learn more about Korean culture they want to visit the country.”

commercial to new markets so what I’m trying to do in the UK, I’m trying to when I go to clubs I get them to play Kpop. I’m trying to bring Kpop to new audiences because a lot of people asked me what on earth is Kpop is and then I explain it and they automatically become interested then when I talk about BTS and they haven’t heard of BTS, like it’s crazy. “I go to DJ’s and they don’t even know what BTS is and I go crazy because I’m like how could you not know them, they’re so big. “I just want to spread kpop because I think the music’s so kind of addictive, it’s so well coordinated and through Kpop you also spread to Korean culture, and for me personally, I want

NCT 127 ... so they were kind of really the pioneers that helped spread the kpop around the world and put it up to new audiences. They kind of opened up the Kpop market to a wider audience. I love them so much anyway but that’s why I kind of love and respect them so much because they’re really spreading Korean culture around the world. They received a Korean Cultural Medal from President Moon, so they’ve done so much to help other Kpop artists get success in different countries. Before it was kind of more just dominating kind of Japan, China, Thailand those kinds of countries, whereas now it’s completely global thanks to BTS.”

“In my next song I’m gonna use more Korean, but this particular one I wanted to just give people a hint, mixing in with the English, so people can discover Kpop.”

Oli’s intention with ‘Perfection’ is to actively spread Korean music and culture to the rest of the world. How does he feel he is doing this?

“Of course some people disagree with what I’m doing but basically a lot of people that have now heard my story had not actually heard of kpop. So a lot of my friends that don’t know me so well, they didn’t really know much about kpop. “I’m just trying my best. I know my song’s not to everyone’s tastes - I mean even I laugh at it, sometimes it’s quite funny, especially some of the comments I get. “Obviously the whole song is not in Korean, it’s a few verses, I’m trying to kind of make it more

to give back to Korea cause Korean people were so so kind to me when I was living there. I had the best time of my life so it’s my kind of way of sharing a little bit of their culture of music with the kind of people that wouldn’t have heard it necessarily before.”

And what about those people that say he is promoting BTS, now Korean music in general? “I mean BTS are among the best ambassadors for kpop. You had PSY before BTS that helped kind of make kpop global with Gangnam Style but with BTS what they’ve done they’ve kind of paved the way for other Kpop stars so now you’ve got BLACKPINK,

With Western audiences split on their opinion of Oli and ‘Perfection’, how does he expect Korean audiences to react?

“I’m sure they’ll love it. Basically, I’ve been in Korean news already I was in a very big newspaper inside Korea and they already know me over there anyway from the TV show I did before, but I’m actually going there in a couple of months. I’m going to stay there for a few months and I’ve got some more songs that I’m working on already, there’s a bit less autotune on the next one so I’m working on some more songs that are going to be more BTS style. So I’m really practising dance moves and practising my singing at the moment because I really want to improve and have a higher standard and also the concept of my other music’s

gonna be different. Perfection was more kind of Mariah Carey style just me lounging around, you know, being perfect in my own world. The other videos are going to be super Kpop; so, me with like loads of dances and stuff, doing BTS style dancing. So yeah, I think Korean people are - they’re always fascinated by people from the Western world that are interested in their country, when you go to Korea and you make an effort to speak their language they greatly appreciate it and they greatly appreciate Westerners taking an interest in their country - so I get a lot of positive feedback from my Korean friends. Obviously, some people find it funny and shocking and stuff but, the Korean people will appreciate it and they will see what I’m doing. “I’m just gonna go to the clubs and stuff, I’m gonna DJ it and play it and stuff, I don’t really perform, I’d rather have a perfect product, I want it to be a high standard. So I’m going to DJ my song in different places; I’m gonna give my song to different radio stations DJs; do TV interviews. Then I want to record one of my new videos in Korea. I want to hire, with my best friend Frenchy Morgan - who was on Celebrity Big Brother, she’s obsessed with BTS - we want to hire Kpop style dancers and I even want to try and get a Kpop star to feature in my next music video as well. I’m just gonna promote as much as I can on different TV shows and stuff.” So who might that Kpop star be? “Oh well obviously, I mean that would be like an honour - Jimin but just maybe even if it’s featuring someone from a boyband, like maybe like a rapper or someone like Ravi from VIXX. I’m trying to think who else I’d like - just someone that’s got the rap style

because that’s what I want. Maybe, someone that needs exposure so maybe even a rising star because I like to support new and emerging artists, so there’s a boy band I really like called N.TIC, they’re very new and they’ve just got a few songs out but I’m obsessed with them. When they go on Instagram live I go crazy but they never respond to me. I’m just like ‘oh my god I love you, you’re amazing’ and then I get my friend Frenchie to come on there as well and try and get their attention. One of the Kpop stars from that band actually did a video message to say hi to me - that was really sweet. Yeah, maybe an emerging artist cuz I like to support new talents.”

“I think I have a lot of personality. I think that’s what people like with me .”

So what is the long term goal? And what sets Oli apart from the emerging artists already fighting to be noticed in Korea?

“Well, first of all, because I’m a Western artist doing this thing - I don’t think it’s been done like this, obviously you’ve had some people do kpop before, an Eastern European band and American guy - but I just think it’s gonna be different because a lot of people in Korea know my story. I went viral last year with my TV show and I’m just gonna really push it. It’s a very very catchy song maybe I can do some remixes of it, maybe I could do more Korean

for the Korean market, and yeah I would love to get a number one. I actually reached number 31 on the iTunes kpop chart [when my song released] so that was really cool. So, I know I can do it I just have to be in the right place - Korea is obviously the right place, that’s the obviously the strongest market for Kpop. I’m just gonna aim for number one there.” Surely he’s aware of Chad Future and EXP Edition? “I didn’t actually know who he was until someone mentioned him recently. His music’s really cool, I didn’t know whether it was Kpop or not but he had some Kpop stars in his videos. “I thought I was the first person, I didn’t actually know about him until the other day, but his music’s cool it’s very much in the style of Kpop how it was back five years ago. I’d like to do something like that, do some kind of features with different Korean artists and do like some crazy dancing and have crazy sets, which I know they have in Korea, they have the most amazing music video sets.” Where they failed, how can Oli succeed? “I think I have a lot of personality. I think that’s what people like with me and so I think my personality will win people over. I’ve got some new TV shows coming up very soon as well, I’m going to do some TV shows in Korea I’ve got lots planned for when I’m there - I just think that I’ll kind of win them over with my personality. The fact that I’m really really trying and really making an effort to appreciate their culture to learn their language. I’m not trying to become Korean at all, that’s not what I’m doing, I just love their culture. I’m just trying to learn as much as I

can about their culture I think they will greatly appreciate that they’ll see my devotion to their country and I think that will win them over.” We couldn’t possibly speak with Oli and not discuss the Jimin ‘look’ and his surgery. Why Jimin over the picture perfect idols such as Kim Jaejoong or Kim Heechul? “I just think he’s cute. Obviously, he’s changed over the years. But he’s just got a baby face, very round, cute baby face, the most beautiful eyes, his smile, everything about him. “I watch a lot of BTS videos when they’re doing behind-the-scenes things, just them in the house and stuff, and he’s just adorable. When those eyes look at you in the music videos, just like pierces my heart so he’s just absolute perfection. That’s why my song is also about him - obviously, the song is about me as well - but it’s also about him because he’s perfection in my eyes and what makes me feel perfect is trying to kind of emulate him in every way possible.”

better job. They’re the only ones that can obviously give me the look that I want - because they’re Korean - so any other doctor I’ve been to hasn’t quite been able to give me what I want.” “My doctor wouldn’t give me half the things I was asking for. He still performed on me but I didn’t tell anyone I was having surgery. I never do, I just like to get it done and then tell people because people always get upset. My doctor kept saying no to what I wanted. I was asking for a really really small nose and he wouldn’t give it to me. I wanted fat removed off my chest he said no, he said just go to the gym you’ll be able to work it off and it didn’t work, so I’ve had that surgery last year actually.

You can’t be having plastic surgery when you’re young, it’s something that you have to seriously think about. You can get any modification you want, you can look the way you want - it’s kind of normalized. I think it’s incredible to be able to do these things, but obviously, you have to be an adult and you have to make an informed decision. In Korea, one in five people get plastic surgery, particularly with the eyes and a lot of people get them when they’re 18 as well, so there’s a huge societal pressure. But if a young friend came up to me I wouldn’t encourage them to do that I would just say ‘look. It’s something you’ve really got to think about’, but I always encourage people to be individual and follow their dreams. If that’s what they really want to do, then do it but it’s about individual decisions and we all have to make informed decisions. So if it’s something they’ve thought about for years then do it, but if it’s something like spur of the moment then I don’t actively encourage that.”

“My doctor wouldn’t give me half the things I was asking for.”

Any regrets? Did doctors manage expectations and advise against anything? “I mean all my nose is completely botched so I have to do it again. I’m going to do it in Korea - it’s completely messed up I have cartilage coming out of my nose at the moment so I’m gonna fix that when I’m in Korea. But I don’t have any regrets. “I did actually do surgery when I was initially in Korea, so I did three procedures when I was there, but the other procedures I’ve done since have been in other countries, not Korea, so my only regret is I didn’t go back to Korea to do the rest of the surgery because they would have done a

“The dedication of the service in Korea and how they look after you is amazing, but the doctor was telling me some things I couldn’t do. Sothe doctor was saying no to something so I had to kind of obviously go with them because I was young, I was naive and stuff, and also if the doctor tells you something you have to do what they say because they normally have your best interests at heart. They know what’s gonna look good they know how your nose is going to function and stuff.“ What would Oli say to a young fan who told him they wanted to get surgery to look like an idol? “I don’t encourage plastic surgery. Unless someone’s really thought about it. Especially if they’re young.

So to the main controversies many think Oli does not look like Jimin, and therefore what he says he has done mock’s the BTS idol. “No, it doesn’t mock him at all. He’d probably find it a compliment. I’m sure he’s seen it already, I mean BIGHIT know about me already. I’ve had some of my producers contact them so I’m sure he’s seen me already, Obviously the BTS message ‘love yourself’, that’s one of the biggest criticisms I get, but this is my way of loving myself because it makes me love myself more. It makes me confident, makes me happy, so I think Jimin would - he might be obviously shocked initially because BTS, they get a lot of

crazy crazy fans, so he might get shocked initially - I just hope he doesn’t take any offence. It’s a compliment to him, to his beauty. I just hope he’s not upset because I would never ever want to upset him because he’s so sweet, he’s very sensitive as well. so I would never want to upset him.” Are there any social or moral issues surrounding changing your identity to look like someone from another race? “I’m not trying to change my race. It’s not about changing my race because I know I’m British. but I fully identify with Korean culture and, I mean, I wish I was born in Korea in a way because, just the culture for me, I identify with so much more so than British culture. I feel almost outcast in this country. Some people find it controversial, I’m not trying to change my ethnicity at all - but I’m obsessed with the Kpop look, and Jimin, the way he looks. So that’s more what I’m going for, I just want the kpop look. It’s a bit like people some people want to have surgery to look like Kim Kardashian, so it’s the same kind of thing. They’re trying to look like her, I’m just going to like a Kpop star. Kim Kardashian, she’s from Armenia originally so she’s also mixed as well but there’s never any kind of controversies with her when people want to look like her.” Is this akin to cultural appropriation? If you look at someone like Jay Park who has recently been accused of appropriating black styles - how does Oli wanting to emulate a visual look he would not naturally have as a Caucasian man, and singing in a language he doesn’t fully know differ? “These days people are so politically correct and I get it,

especially when people are from different ethnic backgrounds when they’ve grown up with a culture of abuse and people making their lives difficult just because of who they are. So I get why it’s a sensitive issue like with Jay Park and stuff, so what if he wants to do that? Kim Kardashian, sometimes she braids her hair and she gets criticized for that, at the end of the day you can do what you want like. Jay Park’s not hurting anyone, I’m not hurting anyone. “Jay Park loves hip-hop, that’s what he does, he’s a hip-hop star rapper and that’s what he loves and good for

“I would never ever want to upset Jimin because he’s so sweet, he’s very sensitive as well.”

him for doing that. It’s not about him trying to change his race or anything, it’s just that’s his kind of music, that’s what he loves and it’s the same with me - it’s just what I love. I don’t see why people get offended, I can understand the sensitivity around these kinds of issues. “I’m really striving to learn more about Korean culture and I know so much about it already so I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong because it’s just me at the end of the day. I can’t live my life in the wrong body, I just want to look a certain way. Same with Jay Park, he’s a

rapper, that’s what he likes to look like, that’s how he likes to sing and good for him because I know he’s had a lot of controversy over the years.” “Obviously with what I do some people find it very controversial and some people take offence, but at the end of the day I’m very sensitive to other people’s feelings and I’ve never purposely set out to offend anyone. I don’t believe what I’m doing is offensive in any way whatsoever, the only reason people get offended is just that I’m different. Whenever someone’s different in life they always get criticized. Society is very very judgemental and it’s actually very sad how judgmental it can be, so it almost puts people off being different. “I want to be a kind of figure for these young people to see you can live your dreams you can do what makes you happy and who cares what people say. “I’ve got so many young fans and I’m not encouraging them to have a surgery or anything, but I’m just encouraging them just to be themselves, be unique, never listen to what people say because I get bullied every single day online by some horrible horrible people and these people are very insecure. That’s why they deflect their negative energy and feelings onto other people.I just think it’s very hard in society to be different and I’m a different person and for me being in the public spotlight makes me feel better in some ways because at least I can be free and open, at least people can actually understand who I am as opposed to me just kind of concealing that and people not understanding the whole Kpop thing. “I just think society needs to be a lot less judgmental of people that are unique and different and doing things for the first time. I’m releasing a kpop song, I’m not

from Korea but it’s just because I’m one of the first people to do that - that’s why I’m getting the backlash. Whenever somebody does something different in society, whenever someone is the first to do something, there’s always a backlash. Look at Martin Luther King in the 60s, he got so much hate, so much backlash and he was a hero at the time, people didn’t see that. I’m not in any way comparing myself to him at all, I’m just saying somebody that does something first before other people always gets backlash and criticism. So, I hope I can pave the way for other kinds of Western artists to do kpop and they won’t receive such a heated response.” Is that what we should expect? “Yeah absolutely, I think it’s only a matter of time, because now you know BTS is just so huge around the world so there are so many young fans and I’m sure there will be other artists, particularly in America that will copy the Kpop style and I think it’s a really great thing. I definitely think there’s a lot more to follow and it’s great because it’s just nice to have Kpop being mixed with American music and stuff making it more diverse. Even in the UK, it’s getting better because we have Kpop nights in London and different cities now.” Oli London is always going to be marmite. The success of his aim to look like Jimin will always be questionable. The skill and success of his music always debated.


ut one thing is for certain, ‘Jimin Lookalike’ sells Oli London short. I am not afraid to admit that I came into this interview thinking it would be boring and vacuous and only succeed in confirming my dislike for what he appeared to stand for. But that is not the case.

Though I don’t agree with all his opinions, he is smarter than I initially thought, and he is more informed. What he is doing does not hurt anyone, and while he still presents as obviously Caucasian, it is hard to definitively decide that his external appearance causes social and moral issues. Oli has the opportunity to use his voice in a far more useful way. He could be a mouthpiece for all the people he aims to speak to - but while his main spin revolves around BTS, and looking like one of the members, it’s not something that seems likely to happen. However, maybe Oli needs to utilise his ability to go viral to be noticed before that voice can shine. Whatever you think of Oli, it is undeniable that he has a will to succeed - and regardless of whoever believes he can’t, he will continue to fight to do the things that make him happy. “When I believe in something and I know it’s can succeed, I really think it’s important in life

to invest in yourself and this is my one chance. It’s a sign from the universe that my friend wanted me to do a song and then I turned it into a k-pop song. This is my dream so I’m just gonna pursue it no matter what.”

While I won’t be in a rush to download his music, I will pay attention if I see his name in future. Oli London isn’t wholly the charicature he comes across as at first impression and hopefully he will do more to back that up as time passes. His voice could one day make a difference.




hrough the magic of the internet, international Kpop fans can watch live Kpop performances just hours after they’ve been broadcast. But it’s quite rare that we actually get to see the live performances. So, when I went on a trip to South Korea, I knew I wasn’t going to leave without going to a music show. Though I was completely prepared to stand outside in the cold queueing to get in, it just so happened that a few weeks before my trip I came across an advert for a package that got you into a music show. Sure, I wouldn’t be in the pit just metres from the stage, but it was much simpler than queueing all day. The show I went to see was called exactly that: The Show. In South Korea, music shows are almost a daily occurrence. The Show is broadcast from SBS Prism Tower in Korea’s Digital Media City to 18 countries on MTV Asia. Before we even entered the auditorium, it was clear that the money I paid was worth it. We were

stood in the foyer, lining up ready to go in, and, through the glass panels on the front of the building, we could see the first set of fans galloping up the steps on their way to their seats. Suddenly, the fans started cheering and waving through the window. On a long gangway above us, six men clad in black wandered along while waving to fans. It wasn’t long until I realised that those men were members of Spectrum – I had had my first idol experience of the evening. The auditorium is exactly what you’d expect; dominated by a huge stage that’s decorated in bright lights, and it has a large neon screen at the back dictating that we are at “The Show”. The room is crowded with people who work for SBS, running around and organising things. There are cameras everywhere you look and wires snaking around the edges of the room. In the midst of the sea of enthusiastic fans sits a row of men with cameras and laptops: the press. I was sat just behind one of the men and was amused when he dumped the signed CD’s he’d been

gifted on the seat next to him without even glancing at them. I’m sure he was used to these shows and was probably quite bored. A spectacular contrast to the excitement bubbling around him. Going to see a music show live was such a touching experience. It’s dazzling to sit in a crowd with a myriad of lightsticks and banners surrounding you. It’s uplifting to hear fan chants in the flesh and to watch every audience member applaud for each group. It’s inspirational to watch each group give their best. From the tiered seating where I was watching, we could see a small space backstage where the idols would line up ready to perform. Instead of simply focussing only on the show, the artists would use that space to interact with audience members; sending them hearts and waving. When all the artists were leaving after the winner had been announced, all the artists were lingering and thanking the fans. And, though it can’t be proved, I like to tell myself (and everyone else) that two members of 14U waved specifically at

me and my friend. It was clear from the love they showed how appreciative the groups were of every audience member. Going to see a music show is also a very weird experience. I knew that some of the performances would be pre-recorded, but I had no idea how many. The majority of the performances had been recorded earlier in the day. While the recordings would be shown on the TV, the group would come out to reperform the song for the artist. But then they would be cut off halfway through the song, so that assistants could get the stage ready for the next stage. Bomin, who was a guest host that day, performed with his group, Golden Child, in his hosting outfit rather than in his stage costume – which meant that he was very easy to pick out but it also looked very strange. The man from the press who was sat in front of us had given me and another group of girls next to me a signed CD each. So now I have an autographed Voisper CD to always remind me how invigorated-yetconfused I felt when I left The Show and got on the train back to my hotel.

THE DEAD WALK KINGDOM: NOW STREAMING ON NETFLIX Please note: this review contains plot spoilers

Netflix launched its period horror ‘Kingdom’ at the end of January. Expectation was high, given the streaming service announced a second season before the first had even aired. With each episode costing more than $1.78 million (USD) only the best was expected from Netflix’s foray into Korean television. Based on the web comic ‘The Land of the Gods’ by Kim Eun-hee and Yang Kyung-il; the first season of ‘Kingdom’ is only six episodes long, meaning the pace is fast and the details of the plot are set out with beautiful precision. Set in Korea’s Joseon period, ‘Kingdom’ focuses on Crown Prince Yi Chang (Ju Ji Hoon). Following a mysterious sign being posted in the town claiming the King of Joseon is dead, Yi Yang seeks to see his ailing father but is stopped by the King’s young and pregnant wife who is adamant the King is alive. Yi Chang attempts to sneak into the King’s quarters, though when hiding so as not to be caught he hears and sees what he believes to be a monster. Seeking answers, Crown Prince Yi Chang follows clues South, only to be faced by a horrific truth - a plague has infected the dead, and now they rise during the hours of darkeness. Alongside his personal guard Moo Young (Kim Sang Ho), physician Seo Bi (Bae Doona) and the mysterious Yeong Shin (Kim Sung Gyu); Prince Yi Chang must prevent the plague reaching the capital while also stopping Queen Consort Cho (Kim Hye Jun) and her father Minister Cho Hak Ju (Rye Seung Ryong) from stopping his ascention to the throne. This journey explores not only horror mythology, but also real issues of corruption and social class division in an interesting and subtly educational way.

By Lore Walsh

The six episodes come to an end with an impressive cliffhanger, leaving you wishing season 2 could come sooner. With filming having commenced in February we could be waiting quite some time.

‘Kingdom’ lands on Netflix as the zombie revival appears to be dying down a little (all puns intended). With the biggest show of the zombie genre, AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’, suffering the losses of Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene/Rhee and Danai Gurira as Michonee, and having killed off Chandler riggs’ Carl and Tom Payne’s Jesus, the genre flagship has suffered viewer decline. However, fans of ‘The Walking Dead’ looking to become invested in something that shakes up the genre should definitely consider ‘Kingdom’. The zombies in ‘Kingdom’ take the standard lore and rip it up - making them that bit more terrifying. Where the ‘Walkers’ of ‘TWD’ lurch after the living with no real speed, ‘Kingdom’ sees their dead able to run and move as their human selves would have. Where scenes are usually only tense when an individual is overwhelmed by a very close zombie, or a group of zombies, it takes only one to chase a human in ‘Kingdom’ to have you biting your nails as the tension builds. ‘Kingdom’ zombies also appear to benocturnal, when the sun comes up they run for cover, hiding under any available coverage. They become believably dead once more until the sun sets. Scenes of the bodies, crammed into spaces the light cannot reach, really add to the sinister appearance of these monsters. Though the ending to the series reveals that it is the warmth of the sun they run from. In part due to the short nature of the season, there are no superfluous layers to the Kingdom plot. The first season simply sets up its main stories - the plague, the Prince’s background, and the intentions of the Minister progresses these, builds background, and asks plenty of questions for the coming season. There are already plenty of theories on how the drama will progress: Will Moo Young’s wife have a son and will Queen Cho dispose of her and steal him? Will we learn who Yeong Shin is, and why the sharpshooting warrior was residing at the hospital? Will Minister Cho come face to face with the Prince? Who is the double agent feeding Minister Cho information on the Prince? Season 2 cannot come soon enough.

FILM REVIEW BY AMY FURNEY Revenger is a Korean action and thriller that was released in 2018, but introduced to Netflix in January 2019. The film revolves around Kim Yul (Bruce Khan); a detective who was imprisoned for attempting to murder a criminal mastermind who killed his wife and daughter. It sounds straightforward enough, except that he is now in the same prison as his victim, and that the prison is an Alcatrazinspired island shared by twelve other Asian nations. At the time of his arrival, a female prisoner Malay and her daughter Jin are attacked; after saving them, Kim realises that there are both “good” and “bad” prisoners on the island, and that they are at war with each other. Throughout the 100-minute run time, you watch on as Kim becomes involved in prison politics and his love for Jin. Despite a standard storyline, the film’s best deliveries are within the action itself. Bruce Khan is a stunt man and fight choreographer, and therefore is able to deliver acrobatic and enthralling fight sequences. His phenomenal skill is easily visible, and the stable camera angles really allow for the viewer to take in the martial arts on display. Revenger is a great film to watch to pass time, and unfortunately cannot be held in much higher regard. The humour often is too clunky and therefore contrasts against the general high quality of the production. The attempts to add adventure, drama and romance into a film whose title literally captures the “revenge-synopsis” of the drama were poor at best. The film is a nice watch if you are interested in martial arts and action, but it is not something to write home about in terms of plot. It does what is says on the tin; offers a story about revenge, and its attempts to add adventure, drama and romance into a film whose title literally captures the “revenge-synopsis” were poor at best. On the flipside, it is wonderful to see how Netflix is becoming more and more diverse, with world cinema becoming a larger percentage of its content. We hope that its next piece of streamable Korean content is something more engaging!


By Tania Tavares-Pinto


t’s impossible to talk about idol actors without talking about Do Kyungsoo. Vocalist, Dancer, Actor, and amateur chef, EXO’s Kyungsoo has grown to show the versatility a talented idol can have. Kyungsoo landed his first role in 2014 as the taciturn, anguished Taeyoung: the teenaged son of a laid-off retail cashier. Like so many of the roles he’d choose afterwards, the narrative is somewhat serious, sombre. Taking cues from real-life events, the film opened at Toronto’s International Film Festival, Busan International Film festival, and Hawaii International Film Festival. With this very first role, Kyungsoo claimed three nominations, including Best Supporting Actor at the prestigious Grand Bell Awards.


The same year, Kyungsoo starred in his first television drama, after his 2012 cameo on To the Beautiful You, with Jo Insung and Gong Hyojin. It’s Okay That’s Love was a hit. It’s a drama that defined him for years. He gave a gut-wrenching portrayal of abuse and mental illness and it showed his incredible potential. During the course of the drama, as behind-the-scenes videos of production and the crew were released, one video quietly went viral. It showed Kyungsoo’s character, Kangwoo, covered in blood in the corner of a beige-toned hospital room; seizing and coughing. The crew, just in view at the foreground, watch in baited silence. The director says ‘cut’, and immediately Kangwoo falls away and Kyungsoo’s boyish smile replaces it. Understandably, a wave of shocked admiration and applause sounds out throughout the crew. After this, Kyungsoo’s roles started to pick up the pace even as he continued his work as the main vocalist in Kpop supergroup, EXO. He starred as himself in the Naver webseries, EXO Next Door; as a terrifying murderer in Hello Monster; and played a love-struck teen opposite actress Kim Sohyun in Pure Love. In 2016, he starred as Jo Jongsuk’s blind younger brother - a national Judo athlete - in Hyung (My Annoying Brother). This role earned him a coveted Blue Dragon Award for Best New Actor. Two years into a full-fledged acting career, Kyungsoo bagged a nomination and a win from the two most prestigious film ceremonies in South Korea. Even through this, he still battled the stigma of an idol actor. “It’s correct to say that I’m an idol actor,” Kyungsoo said in 2017. “And I think it’s guaranteed that people associate these preconceptions with

me because I’m still working as a singer right now as well.” He explains, “I think that preconceptions and judgements will naturally disappear if I continue to put forward my best efforts.” What makes Kyungsoo such an in-demand actor is the amount of himself he puts into his roles. For Swing Kids, released in 2018, he not only shaved his hair to accurately portray a young soldier, but he also spent months learning the North Korean dialect from defectors and learning to tap dance. The film’s director, Kang Hyungchul, said, “There are times in life when you feel like something is yours. When I first saw Kyungsoo, it was like he had stepped off of the pages of the script, and I thought, he’s mine. I couldn’t refuse him. I think people watching the movie will feel the same way.” I couldn’t refuse him. I think people watching the movie will feel the same way.” Part of Kyungsoo’s charm is the ability to attract so many fans. He counts Jo Insung, Lee Kwangsoo and Kim Woobin among his close friends and biggest fans. His animated movie, Underdog, sold out tickets for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in 9 seconds. It was also the first South Korean movie officially screened in North Korea as part of the North-South Korea film exchange programme. 2017 saw Kyungsoo star as the erratic Private Won in Along with the Gods, which would go on to become one of South Korea’s highest ever grossing films. UKP Magazine’s review of the movie, in our Spring 2018 issue, highlighted Kyungsoo’s stellar acting here too. In late 2018, Kyungsoo conquered yet another demographic through his lead role in tvN’s historical drama 100 Days My Prince. As the emphatic, moody Crown Prince Lee

Yul (whose particular catchphrases ‘Oho!’ and ‘I’m uncomfortable’ became memes overnight), Kyungsoo received praise and attention from female viewers aged between 30 and 40. A 15% difference between this demographic and the usual teens and young adults fans he has with EXO. Kyungsoo’s drama also set records for tvN and became the number 1 slot across all paid and public broadcasting channels in South Korea. So we’re absolutely sure that casting calls are pouring in for Kyungsoo, and indeed, we’re excited to see the kinds of roles he’ll be taking on in the future. Doubly successful as a top idol, a world-class vocalist, and an intricate, thoughtful actor, Do Kyungsoo is a rising star slowly carefully dismantling the stigma against idol actors. What would you like to see him conquer next?

My name is Leilayne Reyes, also known as Len. I’m a Photography graduate, but I also specialise in retouching. After graduating I had already built up a solid portfolio full of images to showcase to potential clients, but the real question was: who was I going to show them to? I’ve been into Kpop since secondary school, such as BIG BANG, 2NE1, SHINee and Wonder Girls, but 2016 was where I really saw a different side to Korean music. Not just myself, but London was blessed with countless of Korean Hip Hop and R&B artists coming over for shows. Somewhere between graduating, going to Seoul for the first time, and attending a few underground Korean Hip Hop and R&B shows with my camera in hand I reconnected with an old secondary school friend Safiya (Saffy) who was also attending the same shows with her camera. We met at a small event in London one day and decided there and then that we’d work alongside each other and create SEOUL LITE! Although it happened so suddenly, we decided that the main purpose for creating SEOUL LITE was to create a platform to give underground artists more exposure in countries outside of South Korea, and to capture their essence as individuals when taking photos and videos.

Shortly after creating SEOUL LITE, networking and making the right kind of connections, we got in touch with FEEL KOREA (a South Korean company) we were grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such a company who were bringing huge Kpop stars such as EXID, HIGHLIGHT, SNUPER and KNK to the U.K for the first time! We worked alongside FEEL KOREA for 3 days where we photographed and filmed a few exclusive events, such as a dance workshop with their fans, and an arts and craft session with a few local children, to name a few, around London. We also took photos and videos around the festival too, which included their stage performances. A music events student (who happened to be friends with an underground indie artist called GRIZZLY) had stumbled upon our website and sent us an email one day asking us to come to her event and take photos and videos. We agreed, not only because it would widen our circle of networks, but because we hadn’t worked with any Korean Indie artists as of yet. Although SEOUL LITE was originally a KHH/KR&B platform, we branched out and the list of artists we worked with steadily grew. Some of them weren’t necessary KHH/KR&B. SEOUL LITE is a platform and we want to showcase ALL underground

artists and not limit ourselves to those two particular genres. Since working with GRIZZLY, one of our first Korean indie concert, we also had the pleasure of shooting Korean indie band HYUKOH, both in Seoul and L.A. We originally started off working with underground artists, but that all changed when a manager of a certain well known Korean R&B artist DEAN invited us to document his first ever 2-day headline concert in London, both sold out! It was such a privilege to be a part of such a memorable night! As a photographer and as a person through this work I have learned a lot and there’s more to just taking pictures. This job really puts me out of my comfort zone. I believe it is important to challenge myself without losing myself. This kind of work also stimulates my creativity and allows me find my own sense of style without being repetitive. SEOUL LITE gave me an opportunity to try different styles and genre which I can reflect in my photography work. Photography to me is not just clicking the button and see what looks good in the frame, I see it as an art form. Working with artists, watching there performances and making it into a still image is a


challenge but that is my favourite part of my job. Capturing the right moment where the lights hit their faces, when the artists convey their emotions on stage and doing justice to the artists performances. That’s what I see through the lens, is art. Through photography I make art and that is why I love my job. I love being a photographer. Leilayne Reyes is London-based photographer and retoucher, graduated BA photography at The University of Roehampton. With a background in photography her photography demonstrates a keen eye for lighting, composition, colour and a great attention to detail. Leilayne Reyes has worked with many singers and rappers such as Dean, a South Korean R&B singer and songwriter. Leilayne Reyes and her co-partner Safiya Warsame founded SEOUL LITE and use this creative platform to help artists create unique visual and highquality content. You can keep up with SEOUL LITE at: @seoul_lite / And follow Leilayne and Safiya at: @tangaorlen ( / @safiyawphotography

Korean Vocabulary: Cherry Blossom Viewing Edition by Amy Furney

(Bom) Spring


(Bom-sopung) Spring picnic. Have one of these with your friends and try making your own김밥 (Gimbap) or maybe treat yourself to some 치맥 (Chimaek) - fried chicken and beer!

(Taeyang) Big Bang fans may already know this word; it means sun!

봄소풍 가자


(Bomsopung gaja): Let’s go on a Spring picnic!

벚꽃 놀이

Cherry Blossom Viewing


(Beot-kkot) Cherry Blossoms. You might catch a glimps of these if you are doing 벚꽃 놀이. Cherry blossoms are in bloom from March until May, and can be seen all around South Korea. Does anyone need a better excuse to book a flight?


(Pida) Bloom

튤립꽃 (Tyullip) Tulips


(Maehwa) Plum Blossoms


(Yeon Deung Hoe) This is the Lotus Lantern festival that takes place in early May in Seoul. Not only are there beautiful illuminated lanterns to gaze at, but many street parades and rallies too!

눈이 다 녹았어요 (Nuni da nogass eoyo) The snow is all melted.


(Bombanghak) Spring Vacation!

재미있게 보내세요 (Chaemi-itge bonaeseyo) Have fun!


Five Historical Places to Visit in Korea

Hahoe Folk Village, Andong: Hahoe means ‘Village Enveloped by Water’, and as its name suggests this village is cocooned by beautiful scenery. It sits in the foothills of Hwasan Mountain, and runs along the side of Nakdong river. The village is the epitome of Joseon style architecture and has preserved many of its original features dating back to the 16th century. The village has gained more tourist attention since Queen Elizabeth visited in 1999 but is still peaceful to walk around. Hahoe is known for its soju and traditional dishes, that include bibimbap that was eaten by nobles. You can also visit a magical tree there that grants peoples wishes.

The Tomb of King Muryeong, Gonju: King Muryeong ruled the kingdom of Baekje from 501-523 CE. His tomb is one of seventeen tombs in the same area. His tomb was the seventh to be discovered and was found in 1971. The outside of the tomb, that is built like a mound, is typical in Korea and similar graves can be spotted all over the countryside. The tomb is surrounded by stunning scenery and is surrounded by a sea of fiery, red trees during the autumn.

The tombs themselves are crucial to understanding more about the Baekje kingdom. Tomb No.6 is notorious for the rare artwork painted on its walls, and 2,906 artifacts were found in the King’s tomb – replicas of the tombs and the artifacts can be found in the Gongju National Museum.

Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju: This temple was built in 528 CE, and was reconstructed by chief minister Kim Daeseong in 751 CE to satisfy the spirits of his parents. There is a tale that Daeseong was the reincarnation of religious and poor woman. He built two temples – Bulguksa to honour his parents of his current life and Seokguram in memory of his parents in his former life. Bulguksa means ‘Temple of the Buddha Land’, and the temple is set out to look like the entrance to the Buddhist afterlife. It is filled with symbolic areas such as the Hall of Great Enlightenmentand the Hall of Supreme Bliss.

Jinjuseong Fortress, Jinju: This stunning site was crucial during the Japanese invasion 1592. The fortress blocked the Japanese from advancing in June 1592. The fortress hosts a small shrine dedicated to the gisaeng (Korean Geisha) Nongae. Nongae is celebrated throughout Korea for the sacrifice she made that gave Korea the upper hand over the Japanese. Nongae lured the Japanese general to a rock by the river that runs alongside the fortress. She threw herself into the water while holding onto the general, drowning them both. You can visit Nongae’s small but poignant shrine on the site. If you visit in May there is a festival dedicated to the gisaeng which will make your trip even more special.

Seoul Palaces: This list wouldn’t be complete without some of the most notable historical sites: the palaces of Seoul. Seoul has five grand palaces – the palaces are mainly reconstructions as the original structures have been destroyed in the Japanese invasions and by fires throughout the years. Gyeongbokgung is classified as the most important and most impressive of the palaces. The palace was originally constructed in 1395 and was home to royalty until the Japanese invasion in the 1500s. The buildings were recently reconstructed in the 90s, but the reconstruction shows what it would have been like hundreds of years ago in great detail. Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung make up the grand East Palace. This palace was favoured by many Joseon princes and was built in 1392. The site has about a third of its original features that have survived the invasions and still stand today. You can also visit the garden at the rear of the palace, known as the Secret Garden, if you book a tour.

By Keeley Burridge

Dak Kalguksu: Chicken Noodle Soup


s we say goodbye to the cold days of winter, we start to say farewell to all the comfort food that goes along with it. Cozy nights after dark, wrapped in blankets with a warm plate of food, soothing the soul as well any frosty hands. Soup is one of those dishes that goes hand in hand with winter nights in. Who doesn’t love the sight of a steaming bowl? And the great thing about it is, it’s nutritious too. Korea is no exception to the rule of a warming menu. In fact, it’s safe to say they have years of experience with it. Whilst the days thaw, that doesn’t mean we can’t savour the taste of our favourite winter warmers from time to time. With Korean soups, there are many lighter options than some of your typical British fare - making them perfect for bridging the gap between the cold and the spring. Chicken noodle soup is a classic all around the world, and it goes by many different names with certain flairs of the cuisine it comes from. In Korea, it’s Dak Kalguksu. One of the soups considered to be a high stamina food like Samgyetang, Dak Kalguksu is both refreshing, warming and healthy, all at once. How’s that for covering all the essentials? Traditionally, this dish is made with hand cut noodles. These a quite easy to make, but do take up a little extra time when making. The taste will be worth it, but if you don’t have the time, don’t feel bad for swapping them out for some shop brought alternatives!

You’ll be making a chicken broth for the noodles, and the best way to do this is the use a whole chicken. This makes sure you get the most flavour in the soup and the most nutrients. There’s many different variations of the ingredients that can be used to flavour the broth. These are our suggestions, based on the most common, take out or add anything that suits your own taste.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4 people) For the broth:

- Whole chicken, cleaned - litres of water (or enough to cover the chicken in a pot) - 300g kalguksu noodles - 3 spring onions - 5 cloves of garlic - 40g peeled ginger - Black pepper to season

For the chicken seasoning: - 1 Tbsp minced garlic - 1/2 Tbsp fine sea salt - 3 Tbsp green onion, thinly sliced - 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds - 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method: 1. Rinse the chicken thoroughly in cold water. 2. Place the chicken in a large pot and add the vegetables and water. Boil the chicken for around an hour, until it’s completely cooked. 3. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth and place it to one side. You’ll want to keep the broth in a separate container. 4. Mix all the ingredients for the chicken seasoning together in one bowl, then tear up the chicken removed from the bones. Make sure it’s in bite size pieces, then add the seasoning to add. 5. If you’re hand making you’re noodles, mix together the flour, oil, water and salt together until they form a dough. Let it rest for around 30 mins to an hour, then knead the dough for around three minutes before rolling it out to around a centimetre thick. Fold the dough over, coating with flour to stop it from sticking. Then cut the dough in thin strips width ways. You can then unfold long noodles and dust them with flour once more. 6. In a separate pot, boil some water and add the noodles, either hand made or shop bought. 7. Drain the noodles once they are 3/4 cooked. 8. Add the nearly cooked noodles into the chicken broth you saved from earlier. Reheat this through until the noodles are fully cooked. This will take around another three minutes. Put the noodles and broth into a bowl and then add the seasoned chicken on top. This can then be mixed together when eating. Other toppings such as spring onions or a spicy seasoning sauce can be added too, depending on your taste.




For a simple day-time look, take note from Red Velvet’s Irene and slip into an off-the-shoulder blouse with some basic ruffles and loosely tuck it into some skinny jeans. You can easily dress up the outfit with a pair of open-toe heels and bold earrings for a more chic look.

Work shouldn’t mean that you still can’t make bold fashion choices. Blouses with ruffles or frill details are well-suited for the office, as it looks smart while remaining stylish. The girls of BLACKPINK are known for their own unique style. In particular, Jisoo’s elegant and feminine style usually includes a ruffled blouse with a simple embellishment or bow. This can easily be replicated for the office, with either a pair of cigarette trousers or a high-waisted pencil skirt.

For a more season appropriate look, play around with some floral prints as well as frills like G-FRIEND’s SinB. To get the romantic style, be sure to accessorise with some dainty jewellery and strappy heels.

With spring upon us, it is time to ditch our thick layers and opt for something lighter. Ruffles and frills are making a come back this season, and are the perfect addition to your springtime wardrobe. Ruffled or frilly blouses and dresses are a popular trend in Kpop and can be seen recently worn by idols like Sunmi and Chungha. The style is hyper-feminine and can worn either casually or for a formal occasion. Looking for some inspiration? Here are three easy looks using ruffles and frills.

EVENING GLAMOUR Make a statement for an evening occasion with some voluminous ruffles. Sunmi’s Siren music video featured a few 80s inspired outfits, with the padded shoulders and ruffled hems. For a glamorous evening look, you can tone this down by wearing a body-con dress with ruffle details and pulling your hair into a slick high ponytail.

Get the Look 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Boohoo / £13.50 Zaful / £13.59 ZARA / £7.99 Shein / £13.99 Shein / £8.99


Cosmic Girls

K-Beauty Idol Breakdown By Emma Alford As fans, it is natural to stare at our favourite idol’s music video and wonder how they can look flawless with every camera shot or stage performance. Stylists spend several hours and a large sum of money to invest in products and planning to suit the idol’s style and concept. Fortunately, replicating their looks can be easier than you think. We have analysed looks showcased so far this year and compiled them into a guide that is accessible, easy and most importantly wearable for all.

Chungha “Gotta Go” Stepping away from her signature glittering eye make up,

Chungha goes for a more sultry look for her latest comeback. Overall, the look is minimalistic which is perfect and customisable for particular occasions. Use warm neutral tones such as peach, coppers and light browns to create a wearable smoky eye – perfect for those just learning or looking for an easy yet polished look. Chungha does wear a range of rich lip colours which go perfectly with the staple eye look. If you want to be bold, go for a deep plum shade that she rocks in the teaser pictures. However, if her more “natural” music video look is more your style, stick to a rose or mauve shade that is close to your own lip colour.


Cosmic Girls - “La La Love” Following up from their last comeback, Cosmic Girls showcase a classic Kpop idol look with an ethereal twist; perfect for their magical circus concept in “La La Love”. One key concept of Idol make up is to play with light metallics and golden shimmers to bring out features such as the natural eye shape, all while creating a natural, healthy glow. In this mystic twist, the light gold tones take centre stage with a thin winged eyeliner. It is a simple wash of colour but the twinkling finish brings more impact to the eyes. Combine it with a natural lip colour or a soft pink gradient lip for a stunning Idolinspired look.

CLC - “No”

Spring encourages fresh pops of colour and CLC certainly brought colour back with their fierce comeback. Following from tracks including “Hobgoblin” and “Black Dress”, the members bring a hint of femininity from their teaser photos and music video. The base and eye make up is kept simplistic with shimmering golds and nudes that teams up perfectly with fresh, dewy skin. The highlight of CLC’s comeback is the pops of colour sported through the various lipstick shades sported by each member. Sorn & Seungyeon team their teaser make up with a peach-nude gloss for a glamorous look and Eunbin & Elkie wear a bright coral shade for a light wash of colour. If you want to be more adventurous this year, opt for a vivid pink lipstick for a showstopping party look inspired by rapper, Yeeun.

K-MUSIC SHOWCASE 2019 7th May 19:30 RICH MIX

Discover Korea’s Urban Music Live in London

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.