Inko Centre gives Korean pop music the attention it deserves, with a special academy and a month-long programme.
For a city with an increasing Korean population (4,000 and counting), Chennai’s engagement with Korean culture has now grown beyond taekwondo and bibimbap. It now includes K-pop, too. And riding this wave of popularity — the Koreans call it hallyu or the Korean wave — is Inko Centre, which is launching an academy to polish the dancing and vocal skills of K-pop enthusiasts. “The academy is in response to the growing popularity of K-pop in the city, with people showing interest to learn it first-hand” says Rathi Jafer, director of Inko Centre.
The annual K-pop contest, which was launched in New Delhi in 2012, expanded to the city in 2014, and saw 45 participants that year. In the following edition, the number rose to 50. For this year’s edition, to start next week, Chennai is poised to host, for the first time, the country’s final round. And it doesn’t stop there. “There is also a vibrant online community in South India, well-versed in K-pop, which meets on a quarterly basis at the Inko Centre,” she adds. Around 60 enthusiasts from the city participate in every meet, with the demographic usually within the age group of 18-35.
At the K-pop Academy, participants will be trained for two weeks, in vocal and movement, with experts being flown in from the Sejong University in Korea. “The idea is to create a crew of professionally-trained performers at the end of the course, who can perform the opening acts at the upcoming semi-finals and finals of the K-pop contest,” Jafer states.
The course on vocals will impart the basics of vocalisation, diction and breathing techniques, says 37-year-old Dong Sik Kim, who has 15 years of experience in vocal training. Boy band SHINee’s View, Always by Yoo Mi-Rae — a rapper of American and Korean descent — and star vocalist Gummy’s popular ballad, You Are My Everything, are some of the songs the students will be trained to sing, he says.
Jung Jiwon, a 37-year-old dance instructor and choreographer, who will train the students in movement, says the course will train participants in the basics, teaching them the vocabulary of dance for K-pop, attitude and body language, besides imparting lessons in body alignment and body isolation.
Open for up to 30 participants, from April 25 to May 20, at Inko Centre. Register for free. Details: 26361224
— Sharadha Narayanan