Posted : 2013-09-17 15:15
Updated : 2013-09-17 15:15

Cover dance is 'interactive communication'

Some 1,000 K-pop fans hold a flash mob performance, promoting the "K-pop Festival in Gangwon 2013," at Almaty Park in Kazakhstan, on Aug. 19.
/ Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

Han Kyung-ah, secretary general of Visit Korea Committee
By Park Jin-hai

Cultural critics say that "hallyu" or Korean wave that the unlikely star Psy ignited to a global craze has seen better days. But Han Kyung-ah, secretary general of Visit Korea Committee, points to cover dance to draw different days ahead.

"As long as hallyu directs people's interest to the Korean culture as well as enhance their understanding about it, fourth- and fifth-generation hallyu is possible," says Han who is leading the "K-pop Festival in Gangwon 2013."

Han speaks with experience from having worked hands-on in the field of hallyu. The Visit Korea Committee, which organized the "K-pop Dream Concert" from 2010 through 2012, will host the K-pop cover dance competition during the festival this year.

Han says something like the cover-dance competition makes up third-generation hallyu. "It is about reproducing cultural contents, while first-generation hallyu stemmed from ‘taekwondo,' a form of Korean martial arts, and the second, K-dramas and K-pop."

A winning team in a regional final in Australia for "K-pop Festival in Gangwon 2013" receive free airplane tickets to Korea on Sept. 1. They will compete with other regional winners at the festival on Sept. 28 in Wonju, Gangwon Province. / Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

For this year's event, some 1,250 teams from 61 countries have applied for the on-line preliminaries by posting their videos, imitating songs and dance moves of their beloved K-pop stars since May. The festival will kick off on Sept. 28 in Wonju, with participation of 14 teams from 14 countries. It comprises of the K-pop cover dance competition, the highlight of the event, and a K-pop concert.

The focus is on the cover dance section, which Han said allowed for interactive communication with fans of K-pop.

"Cover dance is meaningful since it is not merely transmitting cultural content from one side to another. It rather enables people to participate in the process and share the contents," she added.

Han, in fact, learned that some participants of last year's competition enrolled in Korean language courses in their respective countries. "I think those people will work as the most effective honorary ambassadors, promoting Korea's image in the global arena."

Last year, about 70 foreigners from 11 countries performed in a flash mob horse-riding dance at Seoul Plaza to Psy's "Gangnam style" song prior to the festival. This year, it is also planned at a location, yet to be decided, in downtown Seoul, signaling the festival's grand opening.

Among the videos, "Girls' Generation" topped as the most covered K-pop band, followed by rookie boy band "EXO," according to the organizers.

"I feel the power of cultural content, when I see people from small South American countries dancing to the songs of a rookie K-pop band, African girls introducing their team names in Korean and imitating the dance moves of SHINee," says Han.

She said that unlike similar hallyu concerts and festivals that have held auditions in countries like the Unite States to grab as much media attention as they could, the committee held the regional finals in "uncharted" countries in terms of K-pop like Kazakhstan and Turkey.

"This year, a regional final was held in Kazakhstan. Although no K-pop band has performed there, some 1,000 fans gathered and did the cover dance flash mob. I went totally emotional," Han said.

The committee set its eyes on "convergence" between cultural contents and non-cultural ones. "So far the hallyu-related marketing campaigns were, in essence, the same as fan meetings. But, the future lies in conversing hallyu content with, for instance, tourism or education," she said.

It created a program "Must-See Routes," where hallyu stars, such as Infinite and Cho Shin Sung, traveled to local cities, introducing high-end travel routes. It was aired in China and Japan and gained popularity there as well.

The festival will be aired in more than 10 countries through SBS MTV and MTV Asia.

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