Aussie K-pop fans signing up for lessons in everything Korean

The latest offering from Korean boy band BTS became the most-viewed 24-hour debut in YouTube's history.
The latest offering from Korean boy band BTS became the most-viewed 24-hour debut in YouTube's history. 

If your kids are listening to BTS or BLACKPINK then chances are you have a K-pop fan in your house.

And don't be surprised if they also want to wear Korean fashions, watch Korean soap operas, eat Korean food and learn the language because Korean culture has become a worldwide hit.

Asian Studies expert and lecturer in Japanese Studies at Macquarie University Dr Thomas Baudinette said K-pop fandom was a global phenomenon.

"It's a positive, hopeful and exciting pop cultural phenomenon," Dr Baudinette said.

"Fans will gather in public and do dances from K-pop songs, go out afterwards for Korean food and meet Korean people to learn the language.

"People from around the world are uniting in their love of the Korean culture and a strong sense of multiculturalism has emerged among the fans."

He said the fascination with Korean pop culture began with K-dramas (Korean soap operas) and then moved into fashion and pop music, and its popularity exploded with the rise of social media.

Just this month seven-member South Korean K-pop (mix of hip hop and pop) band BTS dropped their latest album Map of the Soul: Persona. Its lead music video - Boy With Luv (ft Halsey) - became the most-viewed 24-hour debut in YouTube's history. It was viewed 78 million times and the album topped streaming charts in 49 countries, including Australia.


Dr Baudinette's been researching the rise of K-pop fandom and is a fan himself.

"When I talk to Australian fans they tell me they like learning about somewhere new as it's very exciting and different to anything they've experienced in Australia," he said.

"They often describe a spark of instant attraction – it's an amazing transformation. I find it fascinating."

Maddison Russell, 24, from the Gold Coast, is a huge K-pop fan and is fascinated by Korean culture.

"I have always been interested in Asian culture for years, but specifically Korean culture for around two years," Ms Russell said.

"What I love about Korean culture is the food, Korea has some of the most amazing dishes, I love the respect they give to people and their elders and I most definitely love Korean fashion as well as Korean style makeup.

"And I really love K-pop. My favourite boy group is BTS and my favourite girl group is BLACKPINK."

Her friends go to Korean Karaoke places, Korean restaurants and Korean multicultural fairs. And she's spent hours perfecting Korean-style makeup.

Ms Russell's also learning the language as she hopes to one day live in South Korea.

"I'm learning the language and have been for a few months. I love it, but it's most definitely hard, as it's quite different to English," she said.

"I've been studying with my tutor for one-to-two days a week at a cafe, she has been amazing and most helpful.

"I'm hoping to one day be fluent in Korean, as working in South Korea is definitely my goal and dream. I see myself living in Korea, like I'm meant to be there…where I belong."

She's travelling to South Korea this month to see it first-hand.

"I will be studying at a language school for one month learning more Korean and putting my Korean language skills to use," she said.

"I'm very excited to try more Korean food, shopping, exploring, going to cafe's, emerging into the K-pop and so much more."