For years South Korean music has gained a loyal following around the world.
Fans in the UAE were treated to a special one-off concert at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. It featured musicians such as Zico, Loco, Paul Kim, Woogie, Peakboy, Sik-K, Jay B, P1Harmony, The Rose and Dvwn, all of whom were performing in the Middle East for the first time.
Thousands of fans of South Korean music from around the region attended Hyperound K-Fest, with some flying in to welcome their favourite artists with banners.
Rapper Loco, 32, expressed his surprise at the number of fans he has in the region. Meanwhile South Korean singer-songwriter Paul Kim, 34, was also surprised by the warm reception he received.
“I saw many fans at Yas Mall and I was surprised many came to me to say 'hi'. It was really surprising because I was wearing my face mask and looked really casual,” Kim told The National.
“It was a new experience for me because I wasn’t expecting anyone to recognise me here but I am grateful and hopefully I get more chances to perform in front of you.”
While some of the artists stayed for a few days to explore the UAE, Kim travelled back to South Korea the same night owing to a prior commitment.
“I promise I will come back just for travelling, maybe with my friends," he said. "Maybe next time I come I would want to try out different activities."
Kim rose to fame with his work on original soundtracks for South Korean dramas such as Hotel Del Luna.
During the K-festival, he performed his hits Every Day, Every Moment and Me After You. He says he doesn't have a personal favourite from his track list. “I like all my songs, they are all my children.”
However, he says if someone wanted to listen to him for the first time, he would recommend So Long because the song itself has special meaning.
“It could be used in terms of saying goodbye. It also represents how much you love someone."
Fellow labelmate Peakboy, real name Kwon Sung-hwan, also took to the stage with his hit Gyopo Hairstyle. He and Kim shared the stage at one point, too, serenading the crowd with their latest collaboration, How to Love.
“When I first started making How to Love, I was thinking of Paul Kim and then it was destiny as I met him for a coffee and I suggested the song to him, he approved right away,” says Kwon.
K-pop boy band P1Harmony also enjoyed the UAE during their first visit, bringing their energy and enthusiasm to the concert. “We promise we will be back,” said member Keeho.
The group started their performance with their hit song Doom Du Doom from their mini album Harmony: Zero In and ended their set with Black Hole.
The six-member band was one of the youngest to make their debut in 2020. They were introduced through a movie called P1H: A New World Begins. Once the pandemic eased, they were finally able to go on tour and said it was "unreal" meeting their fans in the UAE for the first time.