This is a special post for my “little sisters” who are interested in pursuing a career in the Korean music industry as singers; and, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out THIS post by seoulbeats about what it’s like for Asian-American, Latino, black, and white people who are currently pursuing “The Korean Dream.”
I’ve talked about the music industry in Korea before HERE, but I’d like to offer some advice– not just a warning, and introduce two possible role models (for my little sisters in particular) who have made it big in Korea and are black and Korean: Insooni and Yoon Mi-rae (aka “T” or Tasha).
And, here are two important links:
(I know that there are people of every race who are pursuing careers in music or entertainment in Korea, so there is someone out there who we can all look up to! If you’re not sure, just ask me. I wish I had room to mention them all– from Jessica Gomes to Julien Kang to Sam Hammington and even Olivia, a French girl, and Sam, a Kenyan boy. But, don’t even get me started on the people who are Korean-American or Chinese and have made it big in Korea!)
From now on, I’m not going to use the word “Kpop idol” or “Kpop star.”
I don’t think you’ll make it (very far) in the Korean music industry as a foreigner unless you have the humble heart of a true singer and are willing to work incredibly hard from learning to speak Korean to learning about Korean culture to learning about the people and companies that make up what has become a very large industry– on top of actually singing and maybe even dancing if you become a “dance gasu.”
Why won’t you make it far if you just want to be a “Kpop idol” or “Kpop star”?
These days, anyone can get surgery and be styled to look like a Kpop idol or Kpop star. These days, anyone can even have the attitude of a Kpop idol or Kpop star. So, what separates you from everyone else is your voice, talent, and work ethic. Having a good work ethic, especially in a place where people are often over-worked like Korea, will be the best way to make your dreams come true.
After all, by now many of us know that auditioning to be a singer in the Korean music industry both in America AND Korea is an ordeal, and the competition gets harder and harder every year! So, that means YOU have to work harder, too.
(To see what its like to audition for SM, watch THIS video as the members of Infinity Challenge– seven of Korea’s most famous comedians, do just that!)
If you DO manage to pass the audition and sign with a music or entertainment company, then practice harder than everyone else. Take critique– in fact, ask for it. Go out of your way to sing or dance anywhere and for anyone.
Most importantly, don’t let the challenges you encounter, such as discrimination or cultural differences, bring you down!
It’s hard for Koreans to make it in the music industry, too, so don’t see your challenges as any harder than anyone else’s, although they might be different in many ways. From running errands to performing favors to standing on small stages night after night and even being scolded and getting your feelings hurt– you better be ready to deal with it all and get through it all, always learning and improving along the way.
In addition, take the time to get to know your sunbaes in the Korean music industry, from H.O.T. to EXO, from G.O.D. to 2PM, from S.E.S. to SNSD, as well as other legends and current trends in the Korean music AND entertainment industry.
However, for my “little sisters” who are looking for a sunbae and role model who might hit a little closer to home, then look no further than Insooni and Yoon Mirae.
Go HERE to read more about Insooni and her story, as well as get some excellent advice from The Diva of Korea herself.
Yoon Mi-rae is someone many people are more likely to already be familiar with, so I won’t spend too much time talking about her except to say she is an amazing rapper AND singer who has come a long way in both Korea and America!
If you have a dream, go for it; and, don’t be afraid to dream BIG.
But, be realistic. Don’t just see your dream– see the hard work, dedication, and effort it will take to make it come true.
(And, if you want to know how I got to meet people in the music industry and be in a Kpop music video a few years ago, then shoot me an email or check out THIS post on my tumblr.)