As most people know by now, K-pop – Korean pop music – has been taking the world by storm, and, in recent years, top K-pop acts have started to tour the US, where the music’s popularity has been growing exponentially.
Major K-pop acts on tours have hit major cities and even some middling ones. However, the state of North Carolina has always been left out of the mix when it comes to red-hot K-pop groups; and the throngs of K-pop fans in the state have had to travel to Atlanta or Washington DC or Miami to catch their favorite performers.
Until now, that is.
On Monday night, Nov. 6, that’s all changing thanks to a venue in Charlotte called the Blackbox Theater and a promotion company named Leopresents – which together are venturing to bring a top-tier K-pop group to a southern state that’s been severely K-deprived for years.
On November 6, the highly popular and very talented six-member girl group Purple Kiss is bringing their enchanting personalities and precision-perfect choreography to Charlotte. Purple Kiss is one of the most vocally talented groups coming out of Korea in recent years, and the diverse group mixes up their dark concepts – such as their hits Zombie and Pretty Psycho – with lighter-themed songs and videos that have also become popular worldwide.
K-pop fans across the state are hoping this concert will be the start of a trend: the regular arrival of big-name K-pop acts in the state. That would mean a lot more than just a chance for fans in the state to see their favorite Korean acts without traveling long distances. It could help add some “Korean Cool” to North Carolina and enhance the state’s workforce.
The K-Wave – the Korean culture wave that’s sweeping across the world right now – goes beyond music. It includes K-dramas and movies like “Parasite,” which dominated the 2020 Oscars, as well as hit TV series such as Netflix’s “Squid Game,” which was seemingly watched by everyone in the world in 2021.
The state of North Carolina hasn’t had any trouble recruiting big companies and new jobs in recent years – but it’s had a hard time shaking the reputation of being a boring state when it comes to cultural activities for young adults.
And the state has been almost entirely untouched by the most powerful cultural wave in recent history – that of Korean culture. For a state trying to attract younger adults to beef up its workforce, these types of things matter, and they matter a lot.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the November 6 concert in Charlotte is one more sign that North Carolina has indeed arrived as a state on the pop culture map.
The Queen City’s Blackbox Theater, which bills itself as a “new independent, gritty-sheik, all-inclusive live entertainment venue,” is one of the first stops on the Purple Kiss “Fiesta” Tour that includes Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, among other major American cities.
It’s not clear what inspired Leopresents to include North Carolina as a stop after so many major Korean groups on tour – Twice, Brave Girls, Dreamcatcher and many more – never came closer than Atlanta or DC.
A spokesperson for the Blackbox Theater said the whole K-pop scene is pretty new to the venue but added that staff can sense the excitement. He said that promoter Leopresents offered the venue the show and Blackbox snatched it up.
“We don’t know a whole lot about it other than that it is a different crowd than normal and that these folks seem to be quite fanatical!” the spokesperson said.
North Carolina K-pop fans are excited not just about the concert Monday night but also about the chance to meet – and take selfies with – their favorite Korean idols.
The “Everything Ticket” for the Charlotte show – a high-end Purple Kiss ticket that sold out right away – includes admission to the concert, the sound check and a meet and greet with group members, as well as photo ops with the six idols: Na Go-eun, Dosie, Ireh, Yuki, Chaein and, last but certainly not least, Swan.
On social media sites across North Carolina, fans are now expressing their excitement about the November 6 show.
For years, frustrated social media posts have lamented the fact that North Carolina always got left off of the K-pop tour list.
One K-pop Reddit thread was titled, “So… when are groups going to start coming to Charlotte, NC?”
The person who started that thread wrote, “Charlotte North Carolina has grown like CRAZY in the past ten years. I think it’s even surpassed Atlanta in population. As groups announce US tours, I keep hoping that someone will throw in Charlotte (totally not biased or anything!) Anyone in a major city that just doesn’t understand why no groups come to them?”
Earlier this year, there was even more dissatisfaction after Reading, Pennsylvania, of all cities, got a big K-pop act.
One K-pop fan wrote, “It boggles my mind. I live in North Carolina, a state with two very big, major cities and airports, and we never get stuff like this even though we have a huge K-pop community… but Reading, PA does.”
Now, after years of hoping, North Carolina K-pop fans are starting to see some satisfaction.