The UK’s first national K-pop competition is taking place in Kingston.
K-pop is a popular music genre in South Korea with fans all over the world.
Raymond Sweetman, a founding member of the University of London based K-pop group Purple A, said the UK K-pop scene has changed beyond recognition in recent years.
Mr Sweetman became involved with K-pop in 2007 after his language exchange partner introduced him to some Korean pop groups to help build his vocabulary.
He founded his own group in 2015 and spoke positively of the feeling of community fostered by the genre.
Mr Sweetman said: “I’ve made many friends over the years and these friendships have transcended age, nationality and all sorts of status.
“In addition, it has enhanced my knowledge and appreciation of the cultures of East Asia.”
The overall winner of the competition will receive £400 and a trophy, while the winner of each category receives £200 and a certificate.
There have been more than 60 applicants across dance and vocal categories.
The competition is part of Kingston’s annual Korea Festival (KKF), which has been running since 2016.
This year’s festival takes place throughout September and October, with other activities including a harvest festival and kimchi-making workshop.
KKF organiser Justina Jang explained that unlike other K-pop competitions, teams do not need to have majority Korean members to compete and they encourage local people to take part.
She said: “We hope to encourage active participation of locals in the project to ultimately help the initiative establish itself as a fully community led, community first celebration.”
On the day, audience members will have the opportunity to win signed K-pop CDs from popular artists including BTS and Mamamoo.
With nearby New Malden known as ‘London’s Little Korea’, it is unsurprising that this inaugural event is taking place in Kingston.
The festival, organised with the Korean British Cultural Exchange, aims to celebrate and engage British people with Korean culture.
Feature image credit: Kingston Korea Festival.