K-pop fans in the UAE were treated to live performances by Korean boy group Highlight and singer Punch at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday.
The show, called Kite or K-pop in the Emirates, was held to celebrate the UAE's 50th anniversary, and also featured virtual performances by the groups BTOB, Luminous and Laboum.
“Expo 2020 is a global festival and a global event [so] it is such a great honour for me to be able to participate,” Highlight's leader Yoon Doo-joon said at a media conference earlier in the day. “I have been to Dubai on transit and on my way to other cities, so it is actually my first time to be here."
The four-member group then went on a tour around the world fair, before their performance later in the evening.
Scroll through the gallery above for pictures from the show.
“On my way to the media conference, I have seen many pavilions. Most importantly, I am from Korea so I am very interested in the Korean pavilion,” Son Dong-woon, the youngest of the group, said. He said he was also interested in the UAE Pavilion as he was informed it has many things to see.
Formerly known as Beast, the group made their debut in 2009 and are popular among their fans, who are called Light, with songs such as Fiction, Mystery and Plz Don’t Be Sad.
Owing to the pandemic and their mandatory military service in Korea, Highlight, which marked 12 years in music, said they almost had no time to celebrate their anniversary as a full group. However, according to Dujun, they “came together and celebrated online" with their fans.
They are also hopeful about returning to in-person performances and of meeting their fandom soon.
Their Jubilee Stage performance on Friday evening included famous songs such as Not The End, which was released this year, and Plz Don’t Be Sad.
“I tried many different piano codes then it just became the entire song,” said Not The End composer and lyrics writer Lee Gi-kwang. “I do like to pour my feelings and sensations from my life experiences."
He also said that his bandmates were thrilled and excited to hear the song. “They provided many ideas about the outfit and choreography. I felt very honoured, happy and satisfied about their reaction," he said.
Punch, known as the "K-drama soundtrack queen" in the UAE, has visited the country before. She has sung for popular shows such as Goblin (also known as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) and Hotel Del Luna, and brought back memories for the crowd.
“I am really surprised and excited about all the support from the UAE fans,” she said on the Jubilee Stage at Expo 2020. “I am working on new songs and [an] album, hope you wait for it and enjoy it.”
Online K-pop stage at Expo 2020 Dubai
The concert was simultaneously viewed live in Seoul, South Korea, with boy groups BTOB, Luminous and Laboum also performing from Seoul virtually for UAE fans.
BTOB, who are mostly known for their ballads, sang their latest song Outsider from their album 4U: Outside. The song by the six-member group has proven to be a TikTok sensation, with thousands of challenges posted from all around the world.
“We really want to meet all you Melody in Dubai,” member Seo Eun-kwang told the crowd, referring to the fans. “When the opportunity arises, we want to go, perform and become one, so please wait for us."
The four-piece girl group, Laboum, performed popular songs such as Journey to Atlantis and Hwi Hwi.
“I had always thought Dubai was a very far away country, but now it feels nearer and I feel so honoured to be taking part like this,” said member Jung So-yeon.
Boy group Luminous also virtually took the stage at Jubilee Park, with Run and reinterpreted versions of Justin Timberlake’s Filthy and the BTS hit Butter.
“Thank you our UAE fans for all the love and support. Without you guys, we wouldn’t have been on this stage,” Luminous member Steven told the audience.