Center aims to make London a K-pop hub

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 28, 2012 - 19:05
  • Updated : Feb 28, 2012 - 19:06
Korean Cultural Center in London opens ‘K-Pop Academy’

The Korean Culture Center in London has an ambitious plan to become a center of Korean pop culture in Europe.

Korean pop music already has a remarkable cult youth following, but needs more support to expand its fan base in Europe, said Won Yong-gi, the director of Korean Cultural Center.

In a move to expand the K-pop fanbase, KCC in London established a 12-week long “K-Pop Academy,” which meets on Saturdays.

The aim of the course, said Won, is to provide K-pop fans with a firm grounding in the history of the emergence of the Korean cultural phenomenon, including an understanding of Korea’s history, culture and language.

“This course will encourage K-pop fans to learn more about the culture of Korea. We hope to produce leaders, who can promote and spread it to the world,” Won told The Korea Herald in a telephone interview.
Won Yong-gi (right), the director of KCC in London, receives a prize from Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik on Monday in Seoul. (Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism)

Over the next 12 weeks, the selected 30 people will learn about and experience Korean traditional and contemporary cultural education.

Programs include learning Korean history and Hangeul, cooking a Korean meal, meeting K-pop stars and visiting Korea.

“We’re planning to run the course twice a year, and hope to expand it slowly,” said Won.

Won is currently on a visit to Seoul to attend a meeting with other directors of KCC across the world and officials from the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

On Monday, the KCC in London received a special prize from Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik for its contributions to promoting Korean culture.

“Our center has a relatively short history, but is attracting increasing number of young people,” he said.

Located just next to the landmark Trafalgar Square, the center is already a popular spot for Londoners. Despite its short-history ― the KCC opened in 2008 ― it now attracts tens of thousands visitors every year, he said.

In 2010, the KCC held charity auctions to raise funds for Korean War veterans with support from Sotheby’s in London, inviting 40 Korean artists to produce artwork about the conflict.

Last year, it held a K-pop contest in cooperation with YG Entertainment, the agency of K-pop groups Big Bang and 2NE1, and also organized a K-pop night, attracting more than 600 revelers.

Moreover, the KCC has helped build a growing matrix of Korean film fans with its annual film festival.

This year is another big year for the KCC as London is hosting the Summer Olympics from July 27 to Aug. 12.

The KCC is planning to run various events to promote Korean culture, including K-pop concerts and arts exhibitions, at the South Bank Center in London during the Olympics, Won said.

“We’ll continue to develop more programs to help expand the Korean culture frenzy in Europe,” he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (