Jules Does

Archive for September 2014

Excited for Korean cooking!


This week, we did FOOD! And I took PICTURES! (some pictures are also from the KCCUK’s FB page, and I am very grateful)

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Below is my homework for Week One of the 6th K-Pop Academy: an op-ed piece on what makes K-Pop so attractive. Enjoy!

Seriously, what was it about him?

In 2010, a strange man wearing a suit and dancing like an equestrian caught the attention of the world. His instant (and ongoing) popularity led to many thinkpieces by the Western media – just what is this K-Pop thing anyway? And why do so many people inside and outside of Korea (‘Gangnam Style’ has over 2 billion views now) seem to love it? But while Psy’s video might be the first many think of when K-Pop is discussed and has grown into a representative of the K-Pop genre at large, I will demonstrate that K-Pop far and away exceeds the boundaries of what the uninitiated might expect from a genre that is as diverse as its fans. I will do this by examining what are, for me, the three key features of K-Pop: the language, the visuals and the fans. Prepare for pictures and gifs!

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I am so excited to have the chance to dust off this old blog to tell you about my experiences as one of the 30 people who were chosen to attend the 6th K-Pop Academy at the Korean Cultural Centre in London! Don’t let the title fool you, I won’t be training to be a K-Pop star (sad, I know). Instead, we’ll be exploring Korean culture, history and art for twelve weeks from now until December, when one of us will win a flight to Korea! I’ll try to keep the number of exclamation points limited.

The Academy began on Saturday with a chance to get to know our fellow members and get a taste of what we’re going to be doing for the next few months. Some people came in groups, others came alone, and though I try to be outgoing I felt a little nervous at seeing all these new faces. Plus I’m a little older than most people there – although the eldest member of our group is 30, the youngest is 15, which definitely brings the median age down! We had our photos taken by a very kind assistant, who it turns out has exactly the same birthday as me, and went downstairs to the library to give presentations on ourselves and how we came to K-Pop.

The first thing I felt after nervousness was the feeling of being so at home with lots of people – we made the same jokes (come on, the presentations started at 2 P.M., what K-Pop fan worth their salt wouldn’t comment?) and, of course, liked a lot of the same music. Although some of us had been following the scene much longer than others and had varying degrees of devotion to our chosen biases, we were still all united by the wonders of K-Pop.

As I did my presentation I saw a lot of people nodding in agreement when I mentioned something – my favourite boy group (Big Bang, obviously), my favourite girl group (f(x) forever!), my favourite dramas and movies… It was very strange because I’d never met so many people to whom I could talk about this – normally I have to give so much background, and that’s only if I get past the ‘Wait, you’re in to what now? Why?’ questions. Here I was, surrounded by people who shared a lot of my most active interests (not just K-Pop, but ancient languages and sewing as well), and I just felt so welcomed and relieved. I think this is really what this academy is all about – forming connections and making friends with people who enjoy the same things.

After the presentations we formed into little teams named after bands to do a Korea quiz – I was in 2NE1 (that’s the only time I’ll be able to say that) with four of my fellow students. We had to answer multiple choice questions about Korean language, K-Pop (of course), traditional music, history, food… the topics covered were quite broad.  I’m pleased to say that we won! Our prize was a box of Choco Pies, which we divided among ourselves. I hope this bodes well for later in the course…

That’s about it for Week 1, I’ll be posting here every week about the things we’ve learned and, of course, the all important homework assignments. This week I’ll be writing an op-ed piece on what makes K-Pop so appealing, so prepare for lots of pictures of lovely idols.

Until next time, be well!