Maknae Millie’s Interview with Dance Winners of “K-Con Got Talent”

K-Con 2013 hosted their very own dance competition, “K-Con Got Talent” where fans could sing or dance as a solo, pair or group to their favorite K-pop songs and show off their idol moves. This year’s competition was heated – not just because of the suffocating weather- but with amazing talent and unique performances. San Diego represented with two groups placing in the Top 3 of the dance section. SDKFM (San Diego K-Pop Flash Mob) sent out a representative group of seven dancers who performed a dance cover to rookie boy group BTS. The “Bangtan Boys”, 21-year-old Karl Baclea-an [Ji Min], 17-year-old Maisia Fang [Jung Kook], 20-year-old Natalie Cisneros [Rap Monster], 18-year-old Jenna Bloomquist [Suga] and 21-year-old Sam Vongsay [J-Hope] were excited to share their experience.

what winners look like

Millie: Why did you (the group) decide to pick “We Are Bulletproof” by BTS as your dance cover?

 Sam: Personally, I chose to participate in the cover of “We Are Bulletproof pt. 2” because their choreography is very powerful. I think we all had a desire to participate in a cover of the dance the first time we saw it.

Maisia: We decided to pick “W.A.B” because it was a powerful song with choreography of the same intensity. We also saw it as a challenge that we wanted to overcome. We thought “if we could learn this, we could learn anything!”

Karl: We chose “We are Bulletproof” as our cover because it’s a powerful dance with super-fast and visually appealing dance moves. We figured that we would be the only group who would perform it at K-Con because of its level of difficulty.

Jenna: We all really enjoyed the song and were entranced by the complex choreography. We all really wanted a challenge, and that’s what this song was.

Natalie: Their style of choreography is the kind I’ve always enjoyed learning in hip hop classes so I was very attracted to this new group. I’m always up for doing dance covers, so when I saw all my friends crowding around watching the dance practice video and choosing a member to learn from, I immediately went over to be included in the cover. It kind of just happened spontaneously one day after a rehearsal with SDKFM.

SDKFM (1)

Millie: How long did you practice for this competition? And did you guys do anything else that was special to prepare?

Sam: We decided to do this a month before K-Con 2013, but got to physically practicing about 3 weeks prior. Since we didn’t plan this cover to take place in the K-Con 2013 competition, we had to match the dance to the time limit between 2 to 3 minutes long. Sadly, we could not incorporate the whole dance, but I hope everyone enjoyed it regardless.

Maisia: We practiced really hard for about a month and a half. We held several rehearsals every week. Something special we did was practicing our facials! Our teacher/instructor/manager (as we call him) made us go through the song over and over again until we were able to correctly display the right facials that were needed to complete the choreography.

Karl: It took us a good month before K-Con for us to practice. We would learn the dance on our own at first then we had one of our friends, who knew the dance, teach us the moves and at the same time show us formations. Something special we did to perform was mostly performing it in front of our friends to help us perform in front of an audience and the occasional trip to Tapioca Express for a “good job” boba. When the workers asked for our names, we would use our BTS names and wait for them to call them out loud.

Jenna: We practiced for about 3 weeks to a month, usually two days a week for 4-5 hours each. (But it varied!) We spent a long time trying to get expressions down, since they’re vital to the performance. But that comes with every dance! Faces are part of the performance.

Natalie: For about 3 weeks we had multiple practices whenever all seven of us were available. We not only concentrated on getting the choreography down, but with the help our friend who is an experienced dancer, he taught us the importance of having good facials while performing. Especially in this powerful dance I think it’s essential to have a lot of energy. After each practice I felt like we were becoming more and more like the BTS members!

 

Millie: How was the dynamic of the group?

Sam: We are all weird, borderline crazy. I’m surprised we actually got things done.

Maisia: Our group worked well together. We helped each other whenever there was a problem with learning a specific part of the choreography. Everyone was always very enthusiastic!

Karl: We had really good group dynamics with each other since we have performed with each other before. We all performed as the San Diego K-Pop Flash Mob but this was the first time that certain people had to perform together as a group that we were not as familiar with.

Jenna: All of us get along really well. For the most part, we were having so much fun during practice that it almost didn’t seem like a practice.

Natalie: Since we’re all a part of SDKFM, we’re used to the process of learning and practicing dances in a group so we had that advantage. Although this dance is literally the hardest I have ever learned with its precise and quick movements, we all enjoyed practices and had a lot of fun together.

SONY DSC

Millie: What were the advantages and disadvantages of entering in as a group instead of a solo act?

Sam: Advantages is that we have our moral support right there on stage. Disadvantage was that fitting seven people on a stage felt somewhat cramped.

Maisia: One advantage of entering as a group was that we filled up the stage, making it look fuller and better. However, more people means less room on the stage to dance, and that stage was pretty small!

Karl: I feel that some advantages performing as a group would be the visual aspect of an entire group performing in unity would just wow the crowd. Another advantage would be feeling the good vibes from your dance members and having that nervousness disappear because you know they are up on that stage with you. At the same time, that could be a disadvantage if you prefer to dance solo. You can practice by yourself so hard until you reach perfection, but when you have to perform with others who are not as par with knowing the moves or having the conviction in the moves, it could be frustrating.

Jenna: Entering as a 7 member group act meant that we had to work 7 times as hard as the next solo act. Messing up on your own can be played off easily but when synchronization is a key to the performance, there is no room for error. But entering as a group made it seem even more impressive! Our amount of effort clearly shows when we’re on stage performing for the judges. They really take into consideration that we had to practice together.

Natalie: All our members have completely different levels of dance experience so making sure we are all in sync is a challenge. There is always room for improvement, but I think despite that we had a lot of energy and stage presence going up as a group. People really enjoy seeing group covers with all the members so because of that we stood out.

SDKFM (5)

Millie: How did you feel right before it was your turn to go up on stage? And how did you feel after when SDKFM placed in the Top 3?

Sam: Tired. I had to drive all the way from San Diego to L.A when I had little sleep from all the excitement that was going to happen the next day was mentally and physically draining. When we were chosen as the top three, I was in a shock of disbelief. It took me awhile to realize, but snapped out of it as soon as I saw members of the SDKFM walk up to the stage again.

Maisia: Right before it was our turn to go up on stage, my heart was racing. I felt like my life flashed to the future and I saw myself dancing up on stage. I ran through all of the moves in my head and took a deep breath. I told myself that we would do great, and we did~

Karl: Right before we went on stage, I was very nervous. I’ve performed on stage before in front of numerous people, but regardless of how many times I’ve done that, I still get very nervous and jittery. Although once I went up on stage with my friends, I calmed down and was ready to perform my all. When they were announcing the winners, I got nervous because of the way they announced them. When the first name was called I was thinking “Don’t worry, we still have a chance”. Then when Ryan Hsu was called I jokingly said “AH Ryan!” Of course, we can’t beat him.” Finally when SDKFM was called, I was completely ecstatic. I felt so proud that my friends and I had our hard pay off in the end. What I thought in the end was “Is the shirt the only thing we get?”

Jenna: I thought I was calm and collected, but when I stood on that stage, I could feel my heart racing and my thoughts leaving my mind. I felt as if I was going to forget the entire dance…haha. But being called back up there for top 3 blew my mind. There were so many amazing performers that day that anyone could have been in those top 3.

Natalie: No matter how many times in my life I have performed, I will never get over that indescribable feeling when you’re about to go up on stage. My body turned to jello, but when I got up there and felt the crowd’s enthusiasm I felt motivated to do my best! Since many people weren’t able to enter this contest, I felt appreciative to just perform in front of everyone and was especially grateful to make the Top 3.

SDKFM (4)

Millie: Were you surprised by the crowd’s reaction? Did you gain any fans?

Sam: I was completely caught off guard by the cheering from the crowd. I want to express my gratitude to the crowd and all of those who supported us. I think there might be some fans, but we aren’t as good as the original BTS.

Maisia: I actually was surprised! It was surprising to know that crowd knew about BTS. I really didn’t expect it since BTS is a new group. But it was nice hearing the crowd screaming and singing along to “We Are Bulletproof”. We did gain fans as well. After we got off stage, many fans came up to us and asked for pictures. To be honest, I was actually quite overwhelmed! I didn’t expect anyone to come up to us to ask for pictures~ I really felt like a K-pop idol! It was a great experience!

Karl: I was very surprised with the crowd’s reaction. When the very beginning of the song started to play, the crowd was already cheering, which pumped me up the most. At the same time I half expected the crowd to have a positive reaction since we all put so much time and effort to make the dance look amazing. I was thinking “They better cheer!” We did gain some fans right after we performed. We took so many pictures and had an interview with MNet America’s “Danny from LA” . I think the person who had the most fans would have to be J-Hope (Sam) since he was the most recognizable. We made jokes saying it was only because of the bandana. If he hadn’t been wearing that bandana, he would be just like us.

Jenna: The cheers were super loud! So many people in the crowd were singing along. It was really invigorating. We also gained a bunch of fans. I don’t think any of us expected to be asked for pictures throughout the day! After all, we were just normal people who did a dance.

Natalie: We practiced for only a couple weeks before KCON and easily put together BTS style outfits so I was really surprised at the amount of fans we gained. They were all really supportive and asked for many pictures with us. My favorite moment was when the whole crowd yelled Rap Monster’s “RAH!” and sang along during our performance. I was just glad to see so many fellow fans, but it was also nice to get SDKFM’s name out!

SDKFM (3)

Millie: Are the seven of you planning on making more dance covers in the future? If so, which song(s) would you personally pick?

Sam: We are for sure, planning on doing more dance covers. Whether they are individually or as a group, we will continue to do so since we are a part of the San Diego Korean Flash Mob and dancing to K-pop is our passion. Personally, I plan to do Teen Top’s “(Rocking) 장난아냐” and BTS’ intro song Big Hit Entertainment released in concept trailer for their comeback.

Maisia: If the seven of us were to make more dance covers in the future, we would definitely choose to do BTS’s new song “N.O”. The choreography is amazing! Even though it looks a lot harder than “We Are Bulletproof” I believe that we can pull through. We’re bulletproof, right?!

Karl: We’re not too sure if we were to do more covers together in the future but that doesn’t mean we’re not. Going with the BTS theme going, I would want to perform they’re new song “N.O”

Jenna: Of course! We haven’t discussed much, but BTS just released a new song called “N.O” with some really nice choreography. Personally, I’d like to do it! Haha…

Natalie: As of right now we still have to film an official cover of “Bulletproof”, but I’d love to do another cover because they’re always a lot of fun, although time consuming. BTS just released another song so I’ll definitely be learning that. I’ve never done a girl group cover though so I would be interested in doing a popular song like Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar”. Look forward to our future covers!

SDKFM (6)

Our other San Diego winner was 18-year-old Ryan Hsu who had a solo performance of Exo’s “Mama” and “History”

Millie: Which dance covers did you perform at KCON13 and at the KCON Got Talent competition? And why did you choose those songs/groups to perform too?

Ryan: At KCON 2013 I performed several dance covers including, One Shot (B.A.P), Warrior (B.A.P.), MAMA (EXO), History (EXO), Wolf (EXO), Growl (EXO), Bulletproof pt. 2 (BTS), No More Dream (BTS), Lucifer (SHINee), Before the Dawn (Infinite), and many more. I chose to perform on the KCON’s Got Talent stage with MAMA and History by EXO because I love the emotions that those songs bring forth while I dance. EXO is one of my favorite groups of all time and it is an honor to be able to perform their dances on stage.

Millie: How long did you practice for this event?

Ryan: I have been practicing for my dance performance at KCON since the moment that KCON 2012 was over. I wish that I could have participated in a group, but many of my friends were busy working on other covers at the time. I tried my best and my efforts pulled through in the end. I worked tirelessly; day and night.

Millie: Why did you choose to perform as a solo act for this competition? What are the advantages and disadvantages of performing as a solo act vs. being in a group?

Ryan: I felt like there was a lot more pressure on me since I didn’t have other members to draw attention away from me. The only advantage is that I didn’t have to worry about being in sync with anyone or cleaning up choreography.

Millie: How did it feel like performing for the second time at K-Con? Was there more pressure or did you feel more comfortable?

Ryan: My first dance experience at KCON was an amazing experience for me. After seeing my performance, I made a promised myself that I would become a better dancer/performer. By the time that I had performed on stage at KCON 2013, I had become more comfortable with dancing in for larger crowds. Despite my experience, I was still extremely nervous.

Millie: How did you feel right before you went up on stage? And how did you feel after you found out you placed in the Top 3?

Ryan: Despite my experience, I was still extremely nervous. I felt very discouraged after seeing how talented the competition was. I was surprised at myself when I made it into the top 3. I was definitely not expecting it. I was also very surprised at the amount of support that I had from the exotics at KCON.

Millie: How were the fans this year?

Ryan: I love meeting fans and talking to them. K-Pop fans are always such amazing people and I wish I could be best friends with every single one of them. Personally, I don’t see them as fans. I see them as more than the average fan or admirer.

Millie: What dance covers do you plan on doing in the future?

Ryan: I have been working as hard as I can on dance so that I won’t disappoint my viewers. I love all of EXO’s choreography. I am going to try and learn all of their dances. I am also working on dance covers for BTS, B.A.P., SHINee, and Teen Top.

 ***Picture Credit goes to SDKFM member Catherine Joyce Spence***

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Updated: An Exclusive Interview with Kim Soo-hyun: Secretly, Greatly (with Podcast)

photosessionI felt bad for the theatre staff. AMC Fashion Valley employees were not aware of the enormous popularity of Kim Soo-hyun.

<중앙일보 샌디에이고 특별기자 셰릴 달리의 김수현 인터뷰>

They had no idea that to Korean movie and drama buffs, having Kim Soo-hyun show up was like having Leonardo Dicaprio or Robert Pattinson walk into the theatre for an English speaker. Yes. He’s that popular.

Tickets to the two premier showings sold out fast, leaving many crying into their computers, wishing they’d known sooner. Many of those left out stood outside the doors hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite Hallyu star as he entered and exited the building. Fortunately, they were not disappointed.

With a poise and humility that belied his young 25 years, Kim Soo-hyun agreed to a brief interview during his fleeting trip through San Diego. Surrounded by a small, competent staff, we sat and spoke. Although he answered in Korean, he understood my English and often began his answers before the translator had to assist.

Cheryl Dawley: So San Diego is very excited to see you! My first question is, which do you like doing better, movies or dramas?

Kim Soo-hyun: I’m still learning about it. I’ve only done 2-3 dramas and 2-3 movies, so I can’t say right now, but I’m in the process of learning.

Cheryl Dawley: But you’re enjoying both?

Kim Soo-hyun: I like the development and the process with my colleagues. I am enjoying the people in this area.

Cheryl Dawley: And are you planning on doing more with your music career as well? I noticed you just released a song.

Kim Soo-hyun: I’m very interested in music, but my priority is acting.

Cheryl Dawley: I know when you worked on Dream High you spent a couple of month with JYP. How was that?

Kim Soo-hyun: During the shooting, I tried to learn dancing and music. At JYP, it was very hard training over there. It was very tough.

Cheryl Dawley: So what’s the hardest part of your job?

Kim Soo-hyun: Self development. It’s a process of growing up. Sometimes I get lonely and people can be very harsh to me.

Cheryl Dawley: What do you love best about being an actor?

Kim Soo-hyun: I respect Christoph Waltz. But I like acting. It’s like singing. It’s what I like best.

Cheryl Dawley: Can you say “Hello KKonnect” for the KKonnect fans?

Kim Soo-hyun: “Hello KKonnect!”

Time ran out and we had to wrap up.

But there were more to come waiting as he made his way into the theatre to greet his cheering fans. Although the meet-and-greet was conducted in Korean, even the English speaking fans were entranced.

crowd surgeThe bridesmaids outside were not disappointed either. They waited patiently for Kim Soo-hyun to emerge, and were greeted with his wide smile as he made his way through the crowd.

 

Note: Audio content coming soon! Check back!

Also check out the KKonnect Facebook page for more photos!

https://www.facebook.com/kkonnectmedia

An-nyung America!

<<An-nyung America!

Two students from Korea spend their last year at UCSD’s I-House. They share their most memorable moments. 

UCSD의 글로벌빌리지 I-House에서 지난 일년을 보낸 한국 유학생들의 유학후기>>

 

by Jacklin Lee

 

There is no doubt that the United States is a melting pot of different people from all over the world. UC San Diego is no exception when it comes to contributing to this giant jigsaw puzzle of different ethnicities and nationalities. It is is home to hundreds of international students every year and most of them reside at I-House: International House. Being an ambassador at the I-House, I was able to meet incoming and outgoing international students from more than thirty countries. Today I share with you an interview with two Yonsei University students who spent the last year at I-House. 

 

Jacklin: What did you like about San Diego or the United States?

Sunny: I liked a lot of things! People are laid back here – I think people in La Jolla even more so. They like to relax and enjoy their time. In Korea, it is the opposite most of the time. They are constantly preoccupied worrying about money, success, children, and the future. I like how here, parents and adults have their own lives and are not consumed by taking care and babysitting their children twenty-four hours a day. Plus, unlike Korea, people are not constantly rushing each other!

Inae: I don’t think I could ever forget the huge burritos and the delicious baby back ribs. I think these messy finger foods really suited me because I love to get down and simply enjoy food like a child!

J: What would you like to take away from here?

S: I want to tell people in Korea about how much Americans show their respect to soldiers. It really moved me. 

J: Were there any things that you thought Americans could learn from Koreans?

S: I think Koreans know how to complete things more quickly and effectively. It may sometimes be good or bad, but I noticed that there is a lot of waiting here in America. It really tested my patience! Oh, and the public transportation in Korea is undeniably faster and more accessible. Since I lived in Korea for 24 years though, and only am staying for a brief time here in San Diego, I can only say so much! 

(Read the full interview on Kkonnect.net) 

 

Sunny is a Psychology major student who hopes to retain her surf skills, and Inae is a East Asian Studies major who fell in love with Disneyland. Thank you Sunny and Inae for your feedback and comments! 

 

 

 

 

다음달 기사를 기대하세요! 재클린의 한국유학일기

Next Month preview: Jacklin is heading to Korea! Find out what students from the US studying abroad in Korea have to say about their experience. What are they looking forward to? What are some of the rumors that they have been told about Korea? Stay tuned to the next month’s issue for stories from Jacklin’s 2012 summer excursion to Korea. 

 

About writer: Jacklin Lee is a board member of Korean American Literature Club (KALC). It was founded several years ago with the purpose of discussing Korean books and connecting with other Korean events such operas and film festivals. KALC holds regular book meetings and movie nights apart from the special events such as attending film festivals and other Korean cultural events.  

 

 

(신실장님: 사진 4개 있죠? 그냥 작게 보이게 해주세요. 얘내들을 구지 하이라이트 할 필요없어요.   그리고 사진의 설명글은:  Sunny and Inae’s travel photos. Can you guess where they are?) 

 

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San Diego Korean Language Exchange Organizer Robert Schultz

<<San Diego Korean Language Exchange Organizer Robert Schultz>>

<How this Baek-in-saram (“white” person) because a promoter of Korean language learning in San Diego> 

<매주 수요일 저녁만 되면 나타나는 “한국어 수다쟁이” 모임! 

한국어 배우기 동호회를 이끌어온 로버트 셜츠씨와의 인터뷰>

 

An interview by Jini Shim 

 

Jini: When did you first start this Korean language exchange Meetup group?

Robert: The group was founded in May 2006 and I joined in March 2007. I became organizer in December 2009 after the previous organizer left for Korea.

J: How much growth has it had?

R: I haven’t tracked growth per se, but as of today, we have over 450 members on our original meetup.com group and over 200 members on our younger Facebook group. There’s some overlap between the two groups, but we certainly have over 500 members between the two sites. The more important measure is participation in our flagship weekly event, which has been so strong recently that we’re adding space from this week, and expecting to expand to two evenings per week from this autumn.

J: What does this group mean to you?

R: Something magical happens when hearts and minds are opened to new cultures and people see things through another’s eyes for the first time. I had this experience as an exchange student in Japan, and a major motivation for learning Korean was to again enjoy the wonder of opening up a new culture and all the great friendships and discoveries that follow. For our non-Korean members, friends or family may think we’re crazy for watching Korean dramas or going to K-Pop concerts, but within the group, we share our thoughts on the best and latest hits, and it’s a matter of pride to have seen the most.

J: What is your opinion of the Korean language? 

R: Coming from a Japanese language background as I mentioned above, and with the elegant Hangeul writing system, my first impression was that Korean would be relatively easy to pick up. Formal Korean language is pretty straightforward as expected, but in more casual, spoken Korean, there is so much meaning and nuance and so much variation in verb endings and related structures that any kind of natural sounding fluency has remained an elusive goal.

J: Goals for the group? 

R: As more of a dream than a concrete goal, I would like to see San Diego have a Korea-focused organization for like The Japan Society of San Diego (where I used to be a board member), which creates and promotes things like sister city exchanges, visits by Korean officials, and Korean culture and language events.

 

Read the full interview on Kkonnect.net 

 

The San Diego Korean Language Exchange currently meets every Wednesdays at 7pm at a café in Kearny Mesa. For updates visit http://www.meetup.com/sdkorean 

 

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