I detested idling around in between lessons in Campus. I needed a challenge to keep busy while adding value to my life. I came across a poster advertising Korean language club during my second-year studies and decided to give it a try. This is what I was looking for. The Hangul (Korean characters), which seemed as just symbols, were intriguing thus fueling my desire to succeed in this newly-found hobby. After a semester at the King Sejong Institute, I came to learn of a Korean Language department where K-Pop, K-Drama and Korean culture was icing on the cake. Additionally, the class offered Korean cuisine classes where I experienced the Asian delicacies. With the help of a Korean professional teacher and after exciting and diverse courses; including conversation classes, I managed to attain a level one certificate in Korean proficiency. Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I was offered an opportunity to study Korean cuisine in South Korea. Interacting with locals was a completely different experience than what I had learned in the university campus. Apart from desiring a challenge, I learned Korean with a bid to understand their social life, especially with K-Dramas reflecting fairytale love as a possibility. I was also intrigued by the bewildering fashion trends from the K-Dramas and music and their beauty-related products. I wanted to understand why most wished to have fairer skin when they already seemed to have so to me and why they preferred thin physiques; as portrayed in the dramas, compared to thick ones as fancied by Kenyans.
The top K-pop artists in Kenya include Taeyang and groups such as BlackPink and BTS. Taeyang possesses a unique genre and style compared to other K-Pop artists. Apart from his strong vocals, the artist’s marvelous and creative collaborations postulate his capability and skills. BlackPink is not just a fashion trendsetter but a record breaker regarding fresh and funky music. The BTS crew are more like BlackPink although their music is of higher quality with regards to creative lyrics. The fact that BTS has a rap artist positions the group’s music quality better to that of BlackPink is of course my opinion only. Moreover, the rhythm and beats of K-Pop music correlate with Kenyan music thus increasing their appreciation among Kenyans. BTS songs are most favorable for nightclubs due to their hard beats. Although most Kenyans have little understanding of Korean language, they enjoy K-Pop as music is more than just words. As long as the beat and rhythm is up to task, and relates to local genres, the songs are embraced. The preference to K-Pop induces more Kenyans to learn Korean language as well as watch K-Dramas to improve their listening skills.
The most intriguing K-Drama I have watched is “Goblin.” The tale revolves around a goblin and a girl, expected to be his bride. After decades of having to interact with people from different generations, the goblin meets the love of his life. We see and feel his pain and struggles throughout the movie as his bride; who gave him a purpose to live forever, has to remove the blade from his chest thus killing him. He is faced with the dilemma of wanting the sword removed; as it had brought pain over the decades, and wishing to be with the bride for a little longer. The movie puts one in extreme suspense throughout even as the undertaker; another mortal being, is in a dilemma of fulfilling his love desires and that of his course. The unpredictable ending leaves one in gasps. The movie was well crafted with a clear storyline. The dilemmas of life and beyond are expressed with the viewer left wanting more. The characters were deep into their roles and each scene was explicitly portrayed. The accommodating background theme songs were complementing the various scenes intensifying the desired emotions and feelings. I would watch that movie time and again.
Overall, Kenyans like K-Pop and K-Drama because of their authenticity and quality. K-Dramas are more than just shooting scenes. They comprise well-crafted storylines, clear themes as well as well-expressed and arranged scenes. K-Pop is embraced for its international blend of beats that create an appealing, attractive and contagious rhythm. Fashion is the crucial factor for relating to K-Drama and K-Pop. Koreans do not wait for a new season to changes their styles. The culture is set up such that every new clothing has a difference, including changing the side of button holes. As such, fashion lovers engage with latest music and dramas to interact with the fresh designs. The K-Pop groups are main trend setters since for each song, each member tends to have a unique design although the theme might be similar.
Kenyans would be exhilarated to have any K-Pop or K-Drama artists gracing them with a performance. After coming back from Korea, I started an online platform where I could share with people the experiences I had in Korea. In the initial stages of the platform, I thought of introducing the Korean basics, including teaching greetings in Korean and referring individuals to sites and the Sejong Institute where they can interact and master the language. With regard to culture, I introduce Korean cuisine by sharing YouTube links of the famous cooking channels such as Maangchi. I also shared K-Pop links, including BlackPink and BTS, and K-Dramas such as “Goblin.” As such, the platform exposes individuals to Korea through its culture. Upon imitating the platform, I realized the many Korean fans there are in Kenya. I interacted with other individuals advocating and sharing their Korean experiences, including their desires to have Korean artists come to Kenya. We liaised with the various Korean-related online platforms and held a Korean experience event where we interacted with K-Drama, K-Pop fans, and put our Korean language into practice. From that experience, I realized that there is a growing desire and preference to Korean artists, which is on the rise especially with the official introduction of Korean studies in major Kenyan universities. Having a concert of any particular K-Pop group or K-Drama actors/actresses would be an event worth planning for a year ahead for most Kenyans. The online platforms are reaching out to more individuals in other parts of the country. Moreover, the fact that the locals are operating and referring them, K-Pop and K-Drama culture are taking root in Kenya.