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Japanese of Korean descent martial artist, Chu SungHoon or Yoshihiro Akiyama showed his interest in SNSD and Japanese popular 48-member girl group, AKB48.

On June 12th, Chu SungHoon posted on his personal blog a photo that proved his purchase of SNSD and AKB48′s albums. In the photo, SNSD’s 1st Japanese album ‘Girls’ Generation’ was placed on top of AKB48′s 3rd album ‘Koko ni Ita Koto’.

In his blog, he said, “I was in fact feeling embarrassed in getting girlgroups’ CDs but when i was actually buying them, the embarrassment subsided”. He added, “Those CDs are best-sellers. I occasionally listen to them in my car”.

Japanese netizens showed their support for Choo SungHoon’s ‘Girlgroup love’ by commenting, “What a great surprise as I never thought you like girlgroups’ songs”, “Nowadays, SNSD and AKB48 are really popular. You made an excellent choice”, “I had to gather my courage to overcome my embarrassment too when I’m buying girlgroups’ CDs”, etc.

Chu SungHoon married Japanese famous model, Shiho Yano in October 2009 and they are expecting their first child in November this year.


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Girls’ Generation, one of the most popular K-pop groups, performed in Paris over the weekend. But this photo is from a Seoul concert in May, because pics from the Paris show weren’t distributed by international news agencies.

South Korea and Europe appear to be engaged in a bit of mutual admiration musically these days.
South Korean newscasts over the weekend were filled with coverage of a concert in Paris put on by the K-pop powerhouse agency SM Entertainment. Pictures of the concert made the front pages of many daily newspapers Monday, too.

Meanwhile, newspapers in the U.K. over the weekend carried stories about a young Korean singer who made a splash last week on a TV talent show in a manner similar to the 2009 breakout performance of Susan Boyle on “Britain’s Got Talent.”

In both cases, the stories were about one nation’s culture rubbing off on another. And both got more attention in the country that was proud of its influence and less attention in the place where the action was happening.

French media covered the SM concert – which featured groups like Girls’ Generation and Shinee – but they didn’t give it the splashy, wall-to-wall treatment seen in South Korea. “K-pop Takes European Fans by Storm,” the Korea Times headline said today. “K-pop’s Magic, All Parisians Were Attracted Over the Weekend,” said the Dong-a Ilbo headline.

Meanwhile, the story of overnight singing star Choi Sung-bung, a 22-year-old laborer who was orphaned as a child, making a big debut on “Korea’s Got Talent” has gotten far more attention outside of South Korea. A video clip of the show went viral on the Internet, even drawing coverage in the U.S.

Inside South Korea, Mr. Choi has been treated as just one more hard-luck contestant on one of many TV talent shows. The country in years past has seen talent contestants compared to another British phenomenon, tenor Paul Potts. And South Korean networks have gone so overboard in the talent show trend that the most popular singing show is one that doesn’t have fresh faces at all. The show, called “I Am a Singer,” brought back stars from the past 20 years.

After this weekend’s bombardment of coverage of the Paris concert, we sought some perspective from Bernie Cho, chief executive at DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based company that helps Korean musicians distribute straight to their fans and was the first K-pop aggregator for Apple’s iTunes.

His answers to our questions:

WSJ: What is the significance of a concert in Paris versus other parts of the world?
Mr. Cho: For SM Town to sellout shows in Paris is significant in the sense that France has often been an important launchpad for Korean artists stepping onto the world stage. Thanks to the Cannes Film Festival, many Korean directors, actors, and actresses have found French acclaim can lead to international fame. Hopefully, Korean bands, singers, and musicians can now follow in their footsteps.

WSJ: Is Europe bringing measurable revenue to the Korean music industry, or is it still too fresh?
Mr. Cho: Over the past year, we’ve seen K-Pop albums starting to debut on iTunes Top 10 charts in France, Italy, and across Europe. While they may sell hundreds to thousands of digital downloads, superstar K-pop acts easily score millions in music video YouTube views which translates into attractive ad revenue streams for artist management companies.

WSJ: What do people in the industry, like yourself, have to do to take this interest in Europe and make it into sustainable business?
Mr. Cho: The challenge and opportunity for Korean music in Europe is making the move from online to offline. With government and/or label support, Korean acts need to find the ways and means to perform, tour, and promote more in Europe so that they can transform social media buzz into a sustainable business.

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