THE demand for Korean pop culture in Singapore is unquestionable. Fans take time out to catch the Korean dramas and movies on television, in the cinemas, online, and they don’t mind queuing up 36 hours before a concert starts – even if it’s just a short showcase of five songs. And they won’t think twice about forking out over S$100 just to have a meet-and-greet session with their favourite stars.
The K-pop phenomenon has spread like wild fire around the world, even in a place as secluded as Bhutan.
Last week, economist Song Seng Wun and his family were holidaying in the landlocked kingdom when something caugh this eye: A poster of Korean female pop group Girls’ Generation (or SNSD, the acronym for So Nyeo Shi Dae, the Korean name for the girls).
“K-pop fever has reached this high mountain, too!” wrote Song in an email to TODAY. “There are posters of SNSD, SHINee,etcetera. I cannot believe it!”
Come Nov 29, every K-pop fan – even those in Bhutan – will want to be at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, if only because our little island is playing host to the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA), the largest awards show celebrating Korean pop music. Co-produced by Mnet and MediaCorp VizPro International, this is only the second time the awards show is being staged outside of Korea since it first began back in 1999. (The first was in Macau last year.)
There will be 24 awards handed out during the four-hour extravaganza (six, if you include the two-hour red carpet segment), including awards for Album Of The Year, Best Music Video, Song Of The Year and Best Asian Artist.
What’s cool about this year’s do is that there will be a Singapore’s Choice category specially set up, and fans here can vote for their favourite band, such as 2PM, 2NE1, Beast, Big Bang, Girls’ Generation, TVXQ and more.
And, yes, there will be performances by top music acts such as Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, 2NE1, Kim Hyun Joong, Beast and Miss A. And movie and TV stars such as Lee Byung Hun, Kim Hee Sun, Han Chae Young, Yoon Eun Hae, Han Hyo Joo, Yoon Sung Ah, Oh Jee Ho and Kim Sung Soo will be along to present. And that’s only the tip of the K-pop iceberg.
Naturally, fans can’t wait to go. “Being part of something special and probably once in a lifetime experience is something I hope I won’t miss,” said Victoria Lee, 19, who is looking forward to catching 2NE1 and SNSD.
“Both groups are girl group power houses in Korea, and have their own unique charm,” she said. “I love 2NE1′s stage presence and how they can just rock out any stage. SNSD too, as I’ve followed them since their debut.”
Said 17-year-old student Tan Weiru: “I bought tickets (because of) the SM Entertainment artistes – SNSD Girls Generation, Super Junior and TVXQ (who aren’t going to be here because of their busy schedule). I was hoping for SHINee to come, too, but they didn’t get nominated … I’m looking forward to see 2NE1 and hopefully Big Bang too! Also, Song Joongki, because everyone seems to be such a big fan of his.”
“I’ll be going for 2NE1,” said Pearline Ng, 19. “If I have to pay the same price to only see 2NE1, I will (still) go. I like them because their music is different and they – especially CL – are very good on stage. (It’s) not so much the synchronised dances you see from SNSD or other K-pop groups, but more of them doing their own thing in their own style. Plus, I really like all of their songs. Nothing (other than not being able to get tickets) will stop me!”
Apparently, lots of people agree with her, considering the tickets are almost sold out. Said Lee: “You never know when MAMA is going to come back, or when another opportunity like this will come where tons of Korean celebrities are together in one place and event.”
The 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards happens on November 29, 4pm (red carpet), 6pm (awards show) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Limited S$198 free-standing tickets still available from Sistic. Vote for your favourite acts at http://mama.mnet.com. Closing date is Nov 25. Pick up the latest copy of 8-Days or i-weekly to vote for the Singapore’sChoice category. Closing date: Nov 27.