K-Pop superstars arrive for Korean Festival 2023

Korean culture K-Pop is rising in popularity in Tāmaki Makaurau and this weekend Auckland Council is inviting people to a free concert that will showcase it.

International K-Pop superstars, AleXa, Peakboy and Paul Kim, plus Aotearoa's own K-pop superfan, and dancer Terina Whaitiri will be taking the stage at Freyburg Square in the city.

AleXa first exploded into the world of K-Pop after winning the first American Song Contest Show.

“I found K-pop way back in 2008, thanks to my best friend of over a decade, and I think I was so drawn to the visual standards of K-pop with the choreography, the hair and makeup, the music videos, The whole grand package of everything was so appealing to me.

“It just really drew my attention and I wanted to be a performer since I was young and so K-pop seemed like the right outlet to go down," she says.

K-Pop fever hits Aotearoa!

Kiwi connection

K-Pop superstar Paul Kim made his debut in 2014 and he’s no stranger to Aotearoa - he spent his high school years in Ōtautahi.

“First of all, I didn’t know actually that people in New Zealand listened to my music, so that’s a big surprise.”

“It’s been almost 16-17 years since I left New Zealand so it’s a long time no see kind of thing for me and it means a lot to me because I never thought of myself singing in New Zealand,” Kim says.

Talented singer/songwriter Peakboy is a major drawcard.

“He said it is his first time coming to New Zealand, so he is really excited and happy to perform here as well,” Peakboy's translator says.

Leading Auckland’s K Pop dance crew KDA is Terina Whaitiri from Ngāti Awa.  She admits to feeling a little starstruck to be performing alongside her superstar idols whose music changed her life.

“It sort of like put me on this whole really intense journey of self-discovery. I’ve never been able to express myself so much until now because of my group. I’ve gained so much confidence, I know myself. It’s really crazy how much it’s changed my life and the lives of our whole group.”

“We’ve definitely tried to cultivate our safe space for people who I guess get a feeling they don’t fit in or people who feel like they can’t make it into like groups that you have to audition for. It’s just for everyone, like queer people, Pasifika people, Māori people, people of all backgrounds who just want to dance and have fun,” Whaitiri says.

The Korean festival begins tomorrow at 5pm at Freyburg Square beginning with the K-Pop Concert. Click here for more information.