How possible is it to become a black (or foreign) Kpop idol?

Don’t you find it quite comical that you are taking life advice from a 20 year old kid?

I find it quite humorous too as a type this down. But hey, wisdom doesn’t always equal grey hair, does it?

Music and dance has also been a big part of my life, even though I was not really aware of this for the most part of my life. I only recently came to this realization.

Nevertheless, my love for music and performance cuts across the Korean pop, I do not dream of becoming an idol, I’m personally too weird for that, nevertheless, it doesn’t stop me from deriving pleasure in dancing and observing cultures and societies from around the world.

Regardless, from my observations, these are

What you need to expect as a foreign kpop idol in Korea

It pays to be street smart, in this field, in this entertainment industry, just like every other industry in the world, being down to earth and objective towards how the industry works would be your greatest advantage as competition is fierce.

Being a foreigner, you should

Expect to work twice as hard as other idols

This is not because of the Korean people have some sort of social injustice tendencies towards foreigners, no. It’s simply however, because they are a society which prizes hardwork and flawlessness.

You being a foreigner would mean that there would be pressure from the public for you to perform better than the native because well, you’re a foreigner with possible experience and a daring flare in the eyes of the natives.

The death would come from not meeting people’s expectations of being an unstoppable showman. God bless your soul if you are black and yet do not live up to the standard prejudice of black people being good dancers, singers and/or rappers.

As the group gains popularity, yes, you would stand out from the rest of the members, especially if they are all natives.

However, this is a double edge sword.

You standing out means there would be no room for errors on your part and you can easily be singled out from the group, there is no luxury of blending into the group and letting the other members cover up your weaknesses.

With Koreans being hyper opinionated and blunt with razor sharp observation skills, this only means that you might be a frequent target spiteful comments and criticism by Knetzens for your supposed inadequacies.

know that you would be constantly compared to other members or idols

And with the hyper fast internet speed, words of your ridicule would spread faster than you could be able to defend your honor.

Know that your hates would come mostly from foreign kpop fans

Contrary to popular believes, modern day Koreans are actually more accepting of foreigners than you would think. Know that a lot of your hate may not come from the Korean public, but from the international fans with their obsessive purist views on kpop and what a kpop idol should look like.

Expect a lot of controversy, hearsay, and accusations of you being a Koreaboo.


Expect to be alone

Korea has a very reserved culture, so do not expect people to just walk up to you and start making small talk.

How to succeed as a non Asian kpop idol
being in public usually means, being alone

You have to be able to handle your emotional issues by yourself as you would be miles away from home. Consider yourself lucky if you can find someone to which you could hold an intimate conversations with safely. Do not expect such a fortune to come from your teammates however, as talking about emotional and mental vulnerabilities openly is not considered ideal and a display of strength in Korea’s culture.

Surviving in this industry is not for the feign of hearts. It requires being thick boned and brutally independent.

What you need to do to protect yourself if you want to become a foreign kpop idol.

I hope I haven’t discouraged you thus far, it is not my intention, and do fear I may have done so nonetheless with what I have said so far. But you need to understand the reality of the situation at hand and not underestimate the task. Everything is not all roses and sunshine in the real world. Embracing reality would be the very thing that will save you and make your climb to the top blissful.

However, do note that the points I had touched were just the tip of the iceberg, to really go in depth on this topic would spell this post being the longest article on the web.

I may or may not make sequels to this, it depends on your reactions and my willingness to talk more. Nevertheless, I do encourage you to do research on your own and come to your own conclusions and truths, rather than waiting for someone on the internet to tell you what to do.

But yet again, what really should you be doing anyway?

Master the language to perfection

You have to be able to understand and communicate with the locals during fan meetings and events. You have to be able to express your thoughts verbatim to your teammates, managers, stylists, and the rest as it comes to your head.

Being able to adequately express your thoughts and opinions to people, being able to socialize with people, will be the very thing that will make or break your stay in Korea, your experience of it, and the relationships you form with people which is every important in any entertainment industry in the world.

When in society, it is never a good idea to be isolated, South Korea’s very society in built on communalism.

Treat yourself and your career as a business

Entertainment is way more than just singing and dancing. Know the business side of it, and get financially educated!

Know how to handle your finances, and don’t expect your agency to do it for you.

Having a lawyer and accountant friend, will literally save your life.

As an entertainer, your public image should be your greatest art project. Music don’t just sell on it’s own, and when we listen to music, we do not just listen to beat, we listen to the artist and absorb their energy.

This is why,

Copycatting will be counter productive

Don’t attempt to copy the style and charisma of your favorite idol just because they are successful and you want to be like them.

Human beings, especially Knetzens, always have a way of sniffing out fake people, and when you get found out, you will die by a thousand virtual bites.

Believe me, you would want people to respect you, and respect will only come from you being an individual, from you being authentic, and dedicated to your creativity and unique voice.

Aim to be more than just an idol, aim to be an artist

Know who you are, know what you want, know what you want to achieve, this is the only way to know which agency and group you should be with, you cannot afford to be in a place where people have conflicting interest, goals, and visions for the future (if any). Ignore this and you will spend more time fighting and bickering, than you would making music and bringing smiles to people’s faces.

Yo do not want to be a trend, you want to be a classic that last.

This is why,

You should plan ahead and be strategic

Be strategic about which company you choose to work with, you are only as good as your team.

Do not audition for an agency just because your favourite idol group is from there, all that glitters isn’t gold.

you have to love what you do, even if no one is paying attention.

Know that you cannot, and will not be loved by everyone, know your audience and serve them well, no matter how small they are.

If your secret desire to be an idol is just for fame, possible money, and the idea of being desirable, then you have failed before you even begin your career.

You have to love music and performing for people more than anything else.

This is not just about you

Being aware of this would be the only thing that justifies the inevitable suffering that comes with having a public life, this would be what gives you meaning, and having a meaning to a suffering is the only thing that makes a suffering bearable, maybe even pleasurable.

Know your pain tolerance level and separate it from your fantasies

It is important you realize that you would spend more time practising to hone your skills and engaging in the stressful day to day activities of an idol life, than you would enjoying the accolades of fans and just chilling in and out of camera.

genuine love for a craft cannot be faked, your soul knows the truth

This is why if you enjoy fame more than the rigors of an actual behind the scenes work, then I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this my friend, but you are NOT cut out for the job.

80% of your time year in year out, would be spent doing the not so glamorous works, only 20% or less would be spent actually being fancy.

Final notes

I do commend your commitment if you stuck around till this point, it took me the whole day to pen this down, and by the time this post goes live, it would be my longest article thus far, two pages of me ranting, how cool is that?!

Nevertheless, I do want to round things up by saying that even though it will not be easy, it will be worth it if this is your destined life path. You have to be honest with yourself and with what you really want out of life, this is the only way to know if your suffering for a cause is worth it. Also see, The problem with my future

I am no soothsayer, but I’d like to make a prediction, a rather controversial one.

What I believe about who would be the first non Asian person to really break the market is sort of contrary to what people might think based on their supposed believe of what the Korean/Asian people and their industries and cultures are like.

I believe in terms of race, the first person who would accomplish this will be a person of color.

Don’t try to ask me how or why I’ve come to such a conclusion, but just know that the signs are there if you look closely enough. The road has already been made, though not perfectly, by various people and events of the past.

I’m not trying to be bias here because I’m African, neither am I trying to dissuade non black aspirants. But here’s the thing, if this should happen, it will open up doors for other races, and a revolution might happen, but don’t get too lofty there though!

As for me, trust that I’ll be sitting in my own little corner of the world with my cup of tea, ready to say, “I told you so!”

If by the slightest bit of chance, the person who does end up breaking the market is reading this, just know that I am already your biggest fan even before you start your career.

To the rest of you, keep pushing and don’t be discouraged especially when you know deep in your heart that this is for you. Nevertheless, let your goal and focus be the mastery of you craft, and an authentic expression of your individuality, rather than the possibilities of fame and fortune.

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Author: Sonia Adeka

Very little can be done to 'change' the world, especially if 80% of the stakes required for any degree of change to occur depends on other people's willingness to do so. I am not interested in "changing" the world, I'm only interested in changing myself and my 'world'. For, in the end, that's where the true change occurs.

3 thoughts on “How possible is it to become a black (or foreign) Kpop idol?”

  1. I think you covered many things about Korean culture, (I’m Korean-American), the only thing I disagree with is that KPop influenced JPop (not the other way around. KPop and KDramas has been popular for decades in Asia and KPop is definitely influenced by Western music especially R & B and Rap and the Boy/Girl band formula that was popular in the US.
    I’d like the KPop bands to be uniquely Korean because Korean culture is very unique, Korea is not a melting pot of cultures, it’s a tiny country in comparison to most Western countries and I’d like it to be respected in an authentic way. It’s not about racial purity, it’s about retaining and reflecting authenticity of culture in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, the was something I forgot to say, I do not intend the culture to be diluted or changed, I believe all cultures should be preserved in their most authentic nature, what I meant by a “revolution” was not a change of culture or an advocation for a “melting pot” but a coming together of people from different walks of life with a common appreciation and celebration of different cultures all around the globe, that is my view of globalism, and it goes well beyond just the Korean society. Music is one thing which brings people together, irrespective of their religion, culture, race, sex, and nationality. It makes people more tolerant and willing to learn about other groups of people and appreciate them for who they are at their most authentic form. Most wars and disputes between peoples and countries are primarily caused by lack of understanding and tolerance of other people who are different from them.
      Maybe I’m just being a naive post teen, but I believe music could inspire more world peace. Cultures are meant to be shared and appreciated, not changed or appropriated, as an African, I do not stand for that.

      Liked by 1 person

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