Korea Week 2023: Our library K-Pop collection

Mayor Tory Whanau travelled to Asia for 11 days in September, taking in Korea, Japan and China. She brought her love for Korean culture with her during her visit to Seoul, and while there signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), elevating Seoul and Wellington’s relationship to the sister city level. She spoke of Korean culture’s rising popularity in Wellington, which dovetails with the upcoming Korean Cultural Festival on October 6th.

Korea Week 2023 is a vibrant cultural celebration, brought to you by the Korean Embassy in Wellington. Discover the beauty of Korean heritage and modern culture in the heart of Wellington.
️Date: Fri, 6th – Sun, 8th October
Venue: Embassy Theatre & Le Cordon Bleu, Wellington
️Admission: FREE

At the Embassy from October 6th to 8th, the Korean Film Festival returns with a variety of Korean films. Experience the magic of Korean cinema with a fantastic lineup including Operation Chromite, Little Forest, A Hard Day, Hwayi: A Monster Boy, Kai, My Brilliant Life, and Fengshui. Booking is required through Eventfinda on each film.                                                                                                                          FREE EVENT with general admission (first-come, first-served seating).

Thanks to donations from the Korean Embassy and a private collector, we have an extensive collection of K-Pop artists available to borrow. But what actually is K-Pop? Even the most average music listener will have probably heard of Boy-band BTS or Girl-group Blackpink (which includes Auckland born singer Rosé), due to their shear global recognition. Other than that, for the Western listener K-Pop can seem a somewhat bewildering genre with its unique subculture, language, and its rigid industry structure with a trainee system of agencies, idols, debuts and generations.

There are plenty of books in the library collection to help understand the K-Pop phenomenon, as well as numerous CDs to listen to. But before we highlight some of those, it is worthwhile taking a quick look at just what K-Pop is, and how it evolved into its modern form. Earlier this year, a great new award-winning podcast premiered called K-Pop Dreaming from LAist. Created by Vivian Yoon, a Korean-American LA based writer and performer, the series blends memoir, pop culture analysis and oral history to explore South Korean and Korean American history through the lens of Korean popular music.

Vivian was recently interviewed by Jesse Mulligan for RNZ’s Afternoons show. In the interview she talks about various elements of her podcast, breaks down the origins of K-pop in post-war South Korea and the rise of this musical phenomenon that blends with her own life story.

Some K-Pop resources and music from our library collection: 

K-pop : roots and blossoming of Korean popular music / Nam, Kim Chang
“The Korean popular music consumed overseas under the banner of K-pop is pop and dance music performed by idol groups, who have mainly emerged since the 1990s and have come to enjoy popularity among teens. Since the 1990s can be considered the period in which K-pop directly took root, the development from the 1990s up through the 2000s when the popular music of the new generation entered the global spotlighted under the name of K-pop will be examined in this volume.” (Catalogue)

The Korean wave : Korean popular culture in global context
“The rise in popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture began and is promoted as an official policy of the Korean government to revive the country’s economy. This study examines cultural production and consumption, glocalization, the West versus. Asia, global race consciousness, and changing views of masculinity and femininity.” (Catalogue)


2nd Generation K-Pop: 2005-2011
Super Junior, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation & SHINee









3rd Generation K-Pop: 2012-2017
EXO, BTS, MAMAMOO & Red Velvet









We also have a lot of other 2nd & 3rd generation of K-Pop artists, from the 2000s-2010s, the eras of physical CD releases. You can find more of these artists on our catalogue by using the search terms below:

The full K-Pop Dreaming Podcast on Spotify:
Episode 1: Growing up in Koreatown during the 90s and 2000s, podcast host Vivian Yoon was an emo-listening teenager who embraced American pop culture from the outside. But at home, by herself, what she listened to was K-Pop.

Episode 2: Vivian puts together a mixed CD with some of her favourite K-Pop songs from the 90s and 2000s, which tell the early history of the genre’s evolution and growth, as well as her own migration to the Korean diaspora in Los Angeles.

Episode 4: In the American military neighbourhood of Itaewon in Seoul in the late 1980s, a little grimy club called ‘Moon Night’ blasted American hip-hop. The place was for African American GIs to cut loose, but it pulled in an unexpected crowd – young Koreans who would become the pioneers of modern K-Pop.

Episode 10: Red Velvet’s Psycho debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart, and the music video now has over 370 million views on YouTube. Vivian speaks to two of the songwriters behind the song and learns about a little-known incident that erupted just days before the song’s release.

In other episodes of this award winning K-Pop podcast, Vivian explores a genre of Korean music called Trot, which emerged during the Japanese colonization of Korea; looks back at Rn’B kings Solid, the first Korean American act to make a splash in the Korean music industry; contextualises a post-LA Uprising music festival, created to promote racial harmony in Los Angeles that featured a performance by Tiger JK, the ‘Godfather of Korean Hip-Hop’; expands on the growth of the KCON fan convention extravaganza that started in Southern California; talks about the Los Angeles neighbourhood Koreatown which has become the home of concerts and special K-Pop events; chats with Danny Im, the lead vocalist of 90s 1st-generation iconic K-pop group 1TYM, on their rise to fame during K-pop’s infancy in the ‘90s and early 2000s; and in a special live event, in partnership with LAist Studios and GYOPO, delves into the origins of K-Pop with Michelle Cho, a professor and the University of Toronto, and Jheanelle Brown, a California Institute of the Arts faculty member.

For more information on K-Pop, bands, releases & artists the K-Pop Fandom Wiki is a great resource.

Also check out this list of the The 100 Greatest Songs in the History of Korean Pop Music from Rolling Stone Australia.