What, you may ask, is a K Pop Academy when it’s at home? Well, simply speaking, it’s a 12 week course on Korean culture run by those good folk at the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK).
The KCCUK was opened by the ＇Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism＇ in January 2008 under the jurisdiction of the London ＇Embassy of the Republic of Korea.＇ The role of the KCC is to “enhance friendship, amity and understanding between Korea and the UK through cultural and educational activities”. The KCCUK itself is set close to Trafalgar Square in the heart of London and the facilities include a gallery, small theatre, lecture room, IT centre and library.
Over the last few years I have become quite a regular at the KCCUK , enjoying their fabulous free film nights , lectures and exhibitions. It really is a mecca for Korean-o-philes (to mix my cultural metaphors).
The KCCUK have already run 4 very successful K Pop Academies since 2012The course aims to give K-pop fans a firm grounding in the history of the development of the K-pop phenomenon – including an understanding of Korea’s history, culture, language, food, etc. and to participate in various activities such as Korean cooking.
The current course began on Saturday 22nd February 2014 and I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 30 students. Having been to the KCCUK many times previously I knew where I was going and was not particularly nervous. Having had a proper grown up job for nearly 30 years and fast approaching my 50 th year surely entitled me to be inured from the pressures of such events. However, I hadn’t bargained on been the only one who appeared to be over 25 and, more worryingly, the sole male participant. Attempting to make small talk over the relative merits of Girls Generation over 2NE1 was a challenge. However I was hugely impressed with the youthful enthusiasm , not to say obsession, with all things Korean on display, and the delightful non judgmental friendliness of everyone. Some students had travelled considerable distances just to be there, making my measly South West Train hop seem rather measly in comparison.
The first week was mainly concerned with orientation and allowing everyone to get to know each other. We were encouraged to take and display photos on social media. However, I decided it was probably not a great idea for me to run around snapping all the young ladies!
All the students introduced themselves to the class via prepared introductions. There was lots of laughter and a fair few screams at mentions of various K Pop idols. Some of the presentations were particularly ingenious and creative, but all of them were brim full of enthusiasm and a yearning for knowledge and a wish to make new friends. There was then a couple of short fun quizzes as everyone settled into the flow and began to relax.
The KCCUK staff and helpers were kindness personified , and even furnished us with beautiful Korean year planners on arrival.
So roll on week 2 , which concerns the Korean language and Hangul. Having studied Korean for nearly 2 years I know how fascinating the language and writing system are , and I’m looking forward to seeing others discover the same pleasure I have found.
So a huge thank you to the KCCUK staff and helpers and my fellow students for providing a fantastic opportunity and wonderful atmosphere.