With a cheering symphony of rock, pop, and bouncing star-shaped light sticks, Korea on Stage 2023 at the Wembley OVO Arena concluded as another great success. The event was brought to london on November 8th by the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, KBS, and MyMusicTaste – standing as part of celebrations of 140 years of UK – Korea diplomatic relations alongside other previous events such as Hallyu Con 2023 and The Oulim in London.
The event was presented by stunning “Aloners (2021)” actress Gong Seung-Yeon, who gracefully took the stage and introduced the acts throughout – starting with a video call with TWICE’s Jeongyeon.
The first act was Oh Hyun-Ji from YaegeumYaegum on the Kayageum; a traditional Korean string instrument. Hyun-Ji sat on the stage, delicately plucking at the strings as she played popular K-Pop instrumentals such as BTS’ “Boy with Luv”, FIFTY FIFTY’s “Cupid”, NewJeans’ “Super Shy” and IVE’s “I AM” – all while the crowd sang along karaoke-style with the lyrics on screen.
Next in line was BOYNEXTDOOR – the newest boy group from HYBE. The 6-member group kicked off as the first K-Pop act of the night with their lively presence, performing bright hits such as “But I Like You” and “One and Only”, before transitioning into the more mellow “Crying”. They ended their segment with “But Sometimes”, leaving the audience hyped and ready for more.
The next act was another young boy group xikers from KQ Entertainment who started off loud and fast with “DO or DIE”, with all 10 members instantly bursting into the choreography. The energy had no chance to die down as they performed their debut “TRICKY HOUSE”, before settling into the calm “HOMEBOY”. The boys then resumed their lively disposition, and ended their stage with “ROCKSTAR”.
The night then took a Rock ‘n’ Roll turn as Xdinary Heroes took the stage. The 6-piece rock band from JYP came in hot with a cover of the iconic British rock anthem “We Will Rock You” by Queen – engaging the audience in a head-banging, foot-stamping frenzy. They swiftly moved to their latest title tracks “Break the Brake” and “Freakin’ Bad” belting their powerful vocals, before serenading the audience with celestial fan-favourite “PLUTO”. But the calm didn’t last long as the band resumed their shredding with their debut “Happy Death Day” – thus concluding their segment.
Next up was rapper Lee Young-Ji, known for winning High School Rapper and Show Me the Money, as well as hosting humorous web show Not Much Prepared. Young-Ji started off up close and personal by performing “I am Lee Young-Ji” amidst the audience seats, before making her way to the stage. The rapper did not hesitate to inject humour into her introduction, stating that “You guys know me as that drunk girl”, before jumping into her next song “Day & Night (Ft. Jay Park)”. She then moved onto her feature on the Seventeen song “Fighting”, as well as the viral “Smoke” with Dynamic Duo, before ending with “Not Sorry”.
So far the night had given us traditional music, pop, rock, and hip-hop, and now came the time for some nostalgic rock. Jannabi, the veteran indie rock band, took the stage with “Together”, gracing the audience with mellow guitars and smooth vocals. They then moved on to the aptly-titled “Legend” and the sentimental “Summer”, before playing their hit “For Lovers who Hesitate”. They were then joined by rising UK singer-songwriter Henry Moodie, who collaborated in a stunning cover of the classic “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. Henry then took the stage solo, showcasing his young talent with his own songs “pick up the phone” and “drunk text”, while iconic K-Drama scenes flashed on the screen behind him.
The next segment brought K-Pop back to the stage as P1Harmony made their appearance. Unfortunately Jiung was unwell, and could not participate. However, the remaining members more than made up for his absence with their energy. They began with the powerful “Look At Me Now” and “Back Down” – exploding into the choreography before instructing the audience to join them with “JUMP” as they bounced down the runway onto the extended stage. The members gave the energy no time to dip, consistently staying at an all-time high as they finished off strong with “Follow Me”.
The audience was finally graced with iconic girl group STAYC who immediately brightened up the audience as they started with “RUN2U” as well as their latest release “BUBBLE”. The girls then teased the audience with the melody of “Teddy Bear”, and gave a tutorial on the cute point choreography of “POPPY” before jumping into both songs. They then proceeded with undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night, as they covered the massively iconic girl-anthem “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls – causing the audience to sing along in lively harmony.
The final act was none other than hit boy group ATEEZ, who took the stage in London for the second time this year. They began with their debut song “Pirate King” and early work “Say My Name”, before taking a brief moment to celebrate their Captain Hongjoong’s birthday, happily dancing around on stage in a mini-party as music played and a birthday banner flashed on screen. They resumed their set with their recent title and massive hit “BOUNCY (K-HOT CHILLI PEPPERS)” – complete with the point choreography as the entire arena got on their feet to join in, and take the opportunity to dance along with the group. The members then dispersed around the stage as they performed their summer hit “Eternal Sunshine”, before coming back together for a final, electrifying performance of “Guerilla”, with the signature lyric “Break the wall” resonating throughout the audience and shaking the arena.
And thus concluded the event. All performers returned to the stage once more in a farewell, as BTS’ Dynamite played in the background. Various idols such as STAYC and BOYNEXTDOOR could be seen dancing to the choreography, with Jooyeon and Jungsu from Xdinary Heroes singing along. The performers all took one final group photo, before exiting the stage.
From the newest monster-rookies in K-Pop, to the best in K-Rock, and everything in between, Korea on Stage brought us the best of Korean music, culture, and heritage right here in London. We thank all the organisers and guests, and look forward to what the next one will hold. The show will be broadcast on KBS 2TV on November 23rd.
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