K-pop takes European fans by storm
By Chung Ah-young
K-pop singers wowed some 7,000 European fans at their first concert in Paris, France, late Friday. The K-pop concert “SM Town Live World Tour” was held at Le Zenith de Paris for the first time ever in Europe, drawing a huge crowd of European fans who came from various countries including Spain, Italy, Poland and Sweden as well as France.
Particularly, the show was meaningful for Korean musicians as the concert venue is renowned for concerts by world-class musicians such as Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls and Jonas Brothers.
Five Korean bands ― TVXQ, Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, SHINee and f(x) ― performed 44 songs during the three-hour concert, captivating the audience with flamboyant dance sequences. The fans sang along with the Korean songs despite the language difference.
SM Entertainment said it will support the global activities of its artists in the United States and other parts of Europe beyond the Asian market through various networks.
The tickets for the June 10 concert were sold out in 15 minutes and more than 300 French fans who didn’t get tickets held a street rally including a flash mob and group dance to K-pop music in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris, urging the company to add an extra concert. The company decided to hold the additional concert “SM Town Live World Tour in Paris” on June 11 and the extra show also sold out ― this time in 10 minutes.
The European fans prepared placards and balloons and sang the K-pop stars’ hit songs at Charles de Gaulle Airport on June 8 to welcome the Korean singers’ arrival. Some fans wore T-shirts printed with the names of Korean singers and marked with “taegeukgi” patterns to support their favorite musicians.
The company said that some 1,500 fans from various parts of Europe such as France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland flocked to the airport.
Observers attributed the soaring popularity of K-pop music in Europe, in part, to social networking sites, such as YouTube and Facebook. The social networks have allowed overseas fans to gain easy access to K-pop music although there have been no specific promotions or advertisements. In response to the move, the highlights of the concerts are available to be viewed on an official SM Town YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/smtown) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/smtown) which carries exclusive photos and footage of their arrival and rehearsals.
The concert also attracted much attention from the French media. Major French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro covered the story of “Visit Korea Year 2010-2012: SM Town Live World Tour in Paris.”
Le Monde published an article headlined “Korean Wave Strikes Europe” while Le Figaro featured “The Korean Wave Hits Zenith.” Particularly, Le Monde carried in-depth stories about SM Entertainment, one of the leading agencies contributing to sustaining “hallyu” or Korean Wave, and its artists along with the introduction of Lee Soo-man, its producer.
The concert will be broadcast on MBC on July 2. After the Paris show, concerts will be held at the 100,000-seat Tokyo Dome on Sept. 3 and 4.