K-Pop stardom lures Japanese youth to Korea despite diplomatic chill

Posted : 2019-05-02 14:44 Updated : 2019-05-02 20:05
A K-pop applicant performs at an audition in Tokyo, Japan, February 23, 2019. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, and Ibuki Ito, 17, also from Japan, who want to become K-pop stars, perform at an Acopia School party in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2019. Acopia is a prep school offering young Japanese a shot at K-pop stardom, teaching them the dance moves, the songs and also the language. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, sings a song as she spends time after class, in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. Hasumi put high school in Japan on hold and flew to South Korea in February to try her chances at becoming a K-pop star, even if that means long hours of vocal and dance training, no privacy, no boyfriend, and even no phone. "It is tough," Hasumi said. "Going through a strict training and taking my skill to a higher level to a perfect stage, I think that's when it is good to make a debut. Reuters

Japanese Yuho Wakamatsu, 15, who wants to become a K-pop star, takes photographs of Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, during a training session in Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, chooses her profile picture before an audition in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2019. "I've heard stories about no free time or not being able to do what I want. But, I think all of K-pop stars who are now performing have gone down the same road," said Niitsu. During a visit to Seoul paid for by her mother, herself a die-hard BTS fan, Niitsu auditioned for 10 agencies and was accepted by five. Reuters

Japanese Yuho Wakamatsu, 15, who wants to become a K-pop star, adjusts her makeup during a training session in Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, sings during an audition in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, and other Japanese children warm up for an audition at a park in Seoul, South Korea, March 15, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, walks through Shin-Okubo district, which is known as Tokyo's Korea Town, in Tokyo, Japan, March 21, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, practices dancing to K-pop songs in her room in Tokyo, Japan, March 20, 2019. Reuters

Japanese Miyu Takeuchi, a trainee with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment, sings during a training session in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2019. Takeuchi said it wasn't a difficult decision to leave a 10-year career with a top idol band AKB48 back home in Japan to sign with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment in March as a trainee. Even with her experience, she has seven hours of vocal training a day and two-hour dance lessons twice a week, plus early morning Korean lessons. She is not allowed to have a boyfriend but she says she has no regrets, despite the fact there is no guarantee she will make it. "I don't know how long my training period will be, but it has to reach a point where my coaches and management company say 'Miyu, you are a professional!'" Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, and her friends have lunch after a Korean language class in Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2019. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, and Yuho Wakamatsu, 15, also from Japan, who want to become K-pop stars, attend a Korean language class in Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2019. Reuters

Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, studies Korean in her room in Tokyo, Japan, March 20, 2019. "I've heard stories about no free time or not being able to do what I want. But, I think all of K-pop stars who are now performing have gone down the same road," said Niitsu. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, shops after class in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. Hasumi put high school in Japan on hold and flew to South Korea in February to try her chances at becoming a K-pop star, even if that means long hours of vocal and dance training, no privacy, no boyfriend, and even no phone. "It is tough," Hasumi said. "Going through a strict training and taking my skill to a higher level to a perfect stage, I think that's when it is good to make a debut. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, eats 'Tteok-bokki' after class, in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, watches her friend's performance during their street performance in Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea, March 21, 2019. Reuters

Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, 17, who wants to become a K-pop star, walks with a manager of Acopia School in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. Acopia is a prep school offering young Japanese a shot at K-pop stardom, teaching them the dance moves, the songs and also the language. Reuters