In a public square in central Auckland, a dance group gathers for a “random dance play” – when K-pop choruses are put together in a music mix and if you know the dance, you join.

The song “Icky”, by one of the few K-Pop co-ed groups, Kard, starts playing and the group begins to dance.

Then, from around the corner, Kard, who happen to be over in New Zealand for a show, join – to the excitement of the fans.

Superfan Sophie talks to The Detail about the “amazing” experience.

“I’ve followed Kard for years and so just getting to dance with them and getting to meet them… they were all really nice people.”

This is just a tiny insight into the global phenomenon that is K-Pop. 

Kard member BM tells The Detail K-Pop is “booming” which is “lucky for us”.

“This opportunity doesn’t find everybody and I think all of us individually like to appreciate what we have – from our fanbase, to being able to push the music and narrative that we love.

“I just think [K-pop] is very well-produced. From having a mix of genres in the music, to the visuals, to the choreography, to the performances, everything is just very, very well-produced. I feel like there’s a lot of details that K-Pop pays attention to that can set it aside.” 

The Detail also talks to the co-host of RNZ podcast The TAHI, Evie Orpe, to dissect the ins and outs of the genre. 

Orpe lived in South Korea for over three years and speaks Korean.

She says K-Pop, and K-Pop “idols”, are “part of what pop culture is if you live in Korea”. 

“It’s part of everything. You go to the store to buy a little drinky: there’s a K-Pop idol on every single little drink. Every chicken store’s endorsed by a little K-Pop idol.”

Two of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s four members have ties to New Zealand: Jennie (first from left), the group’s lead vocalist, studied in New Zealand for five years, and Rosé (second from left), Blackpink’s lead dancer, was born in Auckland. Photo: Getty Images

The boy band BTS is one of the world’s best selling acts, and a major contributor to South Korea’s economy, generating about USD $5 billion through album sales, concert tickets and social media.

In New Zealand, K-Pop is played on pop radio and the girlband Blackpink has two members with links to New Zealand – one born here and one educated here.

Orpe also talks about K-Pop’s dark side. 

“It is very frightening how dark things get online in South Korea. An idol does something you don’t like or something that you don’t think is becoming of an idol … there’s not a lot of empathy for them and anything that they do wrong, people tear them apart.”

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