New York-based Korean-American K-pop veteran Daniel Shin is ready to help youngsters in California break into the hot Korean pop music industry.
“There are big Korean-American communities out there on the West Coast; it’s only right that we’d want to go where we’ll give ourselves the best opportunity,” says Shin, dean of the New York branch of Born Star, a Korean school starting up K-pop classes this week and month at recreation centers in Foster City, Redwood City and San Bruno.
While he admits that there’s nothing new about Korean academies teaching music, Shin says that a recent “explosion” in the last 10 years has seen a staggering rise in the number of non-Korean students wanting to excel, and succeed, in K-pop.
“It’s amazing when non-Koreans come in, fully practiced, singing songs in Korean,” he says, describing students at the New York school, which was established in 2008, and whose famous alumni includes stars Jo Seung Hyun, Kara Young Ji and Nam Woo Hyun.
Shin — who first found K-pop success in 1995 as an artist with a No. 1 album on Korea’s Billboard chart in a group called Us, and has gone on to produce hit songs and concerts in Korea as well as launch clothing brands and dabble in technology — says today’s industry is “completely different” from what it was when he began, particularly with its increased, professional level of talent.
“There was no internet at the time, everything is accessible now,” he adds, explaining the changes.
Although students (as young as 10) may take classes in all K-pop aspects — from song and dance styles (dancepop, ballads, electropop, R&B, hip-hop) to acting, music theory, marketing, producing and recording, and auditioning for booking agencies — it does not necessarily mean they’ll become a member of the next huge girl group or boy band.
“It’s not easy to become a singer; K-pop is harder than watching TV and singing. Everyone needs to be realistic about what they’re trying to achieve,” Shin says.
K-pop classes, which cost about $350 per series, start in January at the San Bruno recreation center (call 650-616-7180); Foster City recreation center (call 650-286 3380); Redwood City recreation center (call 650-780-7311); and in February at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City (call 650-212-7522). For more information, contact Born Star at (650) 867-9683.