K-pop stars take to English podcasts, reach global audience

From K-pop insider stories to e-scooters, K-pop celebrities give their two cents

  • Published : Mar 28, 2021 - 14:52
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2021 - 14:56
A screenshot shows K-pop Daebak host Eric Nam (left) and guest Jessi. (YouTube)

As more and more K-pop singers gain prominence on the global stage, the demand for English-language K-pop content is on the rise.

Comments on many of the videos featuring K-pop stars contain requests for English subtitles.

“I sometimes joke with my (BTS) Army friends that the biggest fear as international Army is not having subtitles for BTS videos,” a BTS fan living in the Philippines, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Korea Herald. Army is the band’s official fandom community. “When they appear on a radio program, I usually look for the video content on YouTube that features their appearance with subtitles.”

As that fan noted, audio content featuring K-pop stars is inaccessible for many foreign fans due to the language barrier.

The good news is that more English-language audio content hosted by K-pop stars is now available. Most comes from Los Angeles-based media startup Dive Studios, managed by CEO Brian Nam, brother of K-pop singer Eric Nam.

K-pop Daebak

Eric Nam, who made his first TV appearance on the audition show “Star Audition: The Great Birth,” soon gained a reputation for his interviewing skills in English. Some even say his interviews overshadowed his musical career.

In his podcast K-pop Daebak, he shines more than ever as both a K-pop industry expert and a great interviewer.

K-pop Daebak’s focus is on music. Along with reviews of newly released K-pop songs, Nam also airs interviews with K-pop artists.

The luminaries featured so far include Jessi, Jay Park, Chungha and Nichhun.

The show also features interviews with US artists such as Pink Sweat$ and Lauv, who have collaborated with K-pop artists.

A screenshot shows the hosts of the Get Real podcast, (from left) BM of Kard, Ashley Choi and Peniel of BTOB. (YouTube)

Get Real

Get Real is a podcast hosted by three K-pop stars -- Peniel of BTOB, BM of Kard and Ashley Choi, a former member of the now disbanded Ladies’ Code. The three hosts do not shy away from giving honest accounts of their experience in the K-pop industry.

In the first episode, for example, the K-pop stars talk about their experience living in dorms as K-pop trainees and band members.

For a recent episode, K-pop artists who are fluent in English, such as K-pop artist Jackson of Got7, were invited as guests.

The show has aired 38 episodes so far.

A screenshot shows the hosts of How Did I Get Here? -- Jae of JYP boy band Day6 (left) and K-pop solo artist AleXa. (YouTube)

How Did I Get Here?

If you want to listen to an English-language podcast that is not necessarily about K-pop but is hosted by a K-pop star, How Did I Get Here? may just be for you.

Hosts Jae of JYP boy band Day6 and K-pop solo artist AleXa explore seemingly random topics, including e-scooters, the new social media platform Clubhouse, lo-fi music and dating apps.

Each of the show’s 60 episodes opens with the hosts saying, “Welcome to How Did I Get Here? -- where we live our best lives on the internet and come out on the other side knowing more but not feeling much smarter.”

This intro states the purpose of the show -- not to educate or inform but simply to touch on topics trending on the internet.
The Tablo Podcast cover image (Dive Studios website)

The Tablo Podcast

Hosted by rapper Tablo of South Korean hip-hop band Epik High, the Tablo Podcast is mostly a one-man talk show.

In every episode, he speaks from his own experience and voices his opinions on different topics, including Marvel characters, the K-pop industry, K-dramas and how he would cope in a hypothetical apocalypse. (This topic was discussed before the pandemic.)

Eric Nam and his brother Eddie Nam, who is also a manager of Epik High in North America, appear on this show once in a while.

In episode 15, which aired in November 2019, Eric and Tablo discussed racism against Asian Americans in North America. Eric, who was born and raised in Atlanta, shared his experience of bringing Asian food to school. The singer revisited that experience more recently in an opinion piece for Time magazine, titled “If You’re Surprised by the Anti-Asian Violence in Atlanta, You Haven’t Been Listening. It’s Time to Hear Our Voices,” released Saturday.

No new weekly episodes have been uploaded since September, but Tablo did a special two-episode series in January, when Epik High released its 10th album.

“I don’t want this to be something that I am just doing because I can. I want this to be something that I feel like … must be done, so I need some time,” Tablo said on the podcast Sept. 3. He wants to meet people with fresh ideas, he added, and will be back when he has good content to share.

Meanwhile, Tablo recently launched paid English audio content on Dive Studios’ newly launched app Mindset, which mainly features celebrities’ personal stories, mental and physical wellness, successes and failures. Part of its earnings are donated to a charity of the artists’ choice, according to Dive Studios.

By Song Seung-hyun (
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