The Impact of K-pop Concerts for the UK Fandom


Within the last five years K-pop has become a genre of music that has progressed enough to be placed on charts, TV and is just as recognised as punk, heavy metal and rock. Some people would say it was due to PSY and his release of Gangnam Style, and although I cringe to agree with this as an old time K-pop listener, it is indeed the case. Before PSY only a select few within Europe had heard of K-pop, but those few were enough to show South Korean entertainment companies that there was indeed a market within Europe.

When a K-pop artist announces a ‘World Wide Tour’ there is nothing more frustrating than seeing them name all the stops in America, Japan, China, Thailand and then ending when they mention Seoul. The UK and European countries are usually left out. This was until 2011 when Cube Entertainment held the first ever K-pop concert United Cube in London. The show had Beast, 4Minute and G.NA perform at the Brixton O2 Academy, and sold out within minutes of going on sale. The first door was open for other K-pop companies to jump aboard and start promoting in the UK. 

BIGBANG+Alive+Galaxy+Tour+2012+pJune 2012 saw the “MBC Kpop & Korean Culture Festival” held at the IndigO2, which hosted a Hangbok fashion show, traditional drummers and performers, and a K-pop dance cover group who had won a competition from France. The highlight of the festival were performances from Norazo, 4Minute and EXO-K. This was a huge deal for Norazo and EXO-K as it was their first time performing outside of America and Asia. Fans travelled from all around Europe to see the festival and to show their love for K-pop.

Later in September 2012, London was announced to have a concert from CNBlue. Originally it was rumoured to be a joint concert with label mates FTIsland, but their promotions in Japan took longer than expected, and CNBlue held their first European solo concert at the IndigO2 London. This was the first time I ever saw domestic Korean fans at an event, and later found out they had reserved a lot of tickets and flown over especially for the event. The CNBlue boys also managed to keep a little memory of their first ever European concert by recording their video for I’m Sorry around the streets of London. They even did a Making of DVD showing their experiences of the Great British weather.

The biggest news of 2012, and one of the last concerts for K-pop in the UK in that year was the announcement of one of the big three K-pop companies, YGEntertainment, bringing over Big BangThe tickets sold so fast that an extra day was added and even then the tickets sold like hot cakes. While the turn out of Korean fans for CNBlue was huge, I was astounded by the amount of different nationalities that came to Wembley to see Big Bang. It was a huge concert, full of pyrotechnics and flashing lasers, and as expected from a company like YGEnt, it was full of fan service and fun.

This brings us to 2013, and although it started off with rumours of a joint CNBlue and FTIsland family concert (yet again) and hints that 2NE1 or G-Dragon would hold concerts in London, it seems at the moment, eight months in, that these are just rumours. But one rumour which spread and turned out to be true was that Teen Top would be doing a European tour. And yes, in February, fans in the UK were able to greet C.A.P, Niel, Ricky, Changjo, L.Joe and Chunji at the HMV Forum. The boys held a press conference before the concert and were extremely nervous, but at the concert itself all signs of those nerves were gone and they performed amazingly. There was no special lasers or pyrotechnics, just your bog standard stage and confetti cannons. But this made their performance at the filled up concert hall a lot more personal and interactive for the fans.

Since February we had not heard much more about K-pop in the UK. There was the odd competition or event here and there but nothing major. However, with the last quarter of the year approaching it seems that all the K-pop idols are coming to the UK. I believe this is their early 2013 Christmas present to the fans. Jay Park is holding his European Tour and stopping at the Hammersmith Apollo with his supporting act Victor in September. There is even a competition held by Invaziworld and their affiliates for any concert ticket holders to go to a ‘Meet & Greet’ with Jay Park himself. Just head on over to their website and follow the instructions. Tickets for the concert are still on sale and can be bought from with prices ranging from £43 to £98.

VIXX+jekyllWe then have the month of Infinite‘s worldwide concert One Great Step in November. Rumours have spread saying it’s on the 27th, but nothing has been confirmed with Woollim Entertainment as of yet. The whole tour was announced at their showcase for their Destiny album with the release of a special teaser video for fans. Fans were going wild with excitement and there are plans being arranged for special fan chants and gifts to give to the members.

Just recently was there a double announcement for two more special K-pop events in Europe. The rookie group VIXX announced through their YouTube channel that they would be holding a special worldwide showcase called The Milky Way to spread their love to fans in other countries. Although they haven’t specified where in Europe they will be going, there are high hopes that London will be on the list. All we know is that the showcase tour will run over October and November. The second announcement was that SMEntertaiment’s 12 member boy group Super Junior will be coming to London to perform their concert Super Show 5. It was an ongoing battle of rumours for over a year that Super Junior would one day come to London to perform, but there are fears that this concert could clash with both Infinite‘s and VIXX‘s. 

As you can see, it was a very slow start for the UK to get the message out there that fans do exist and we do want concerts. As soon as the big names in the K-pop entertainment business got involved, the UK K-pop fans began petitioning, attending concerts in other European countries, waving the British flag and inviting South Korean news teams to cover their events on British soil. We are finally growing as a K-pop loving country and allowing the UK K-pop fandom to grow. If we can host Big Bang, Infinite, Super Junior, CNBlue and Jay Park, then who’s to say that it will stop there. Maybe 2014 will see more ‘Family’ concerts or solo concerts, or maybe we will get music shows like M!Countdown, Mnet, Music Bank and Show Champion to hold special events. Whatever happens, all we know is that the popularity of K-pop is growing fast. Whether you’re an old timer and listen to SHINHWA, or are interested in rookie groups like BigStar, or even if you joined the fandom through Gangnam Style, we all have one thing in common, and that’s K-pop.

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