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Ohio State student organization riding the ‘Korean Wave’ into its third year

J2K is preparing for its third year with anticipation of upcoming appearances at the Involvement Fair and CelebrAsian in August. Credit: Courtesy of Clint Robinson.

J2K is preparing for its third year with anticipation of upcoming appearances at the Involvement Fair and CelebrAsian in August. Credit: Courtesy of Clint Robinson.

Korean music is blasting through the speakers, audience members are cheering and singing along and the room is buzzing with energy. You don’t have to go to Korea to experience a scene like this, just attend any number of performances by J2K.

J2K is an Ohio State student organization that focuses on the dance and performance of Korean, Japanese and Chinese pop music.

With performances scheduled at the Involvement Fair on Aug. 23 and CelebrAsian on Aug. 27, the group is gearing up for what they hope to be an exciting third year at OSU.

“We have several big events we will be performing at throughout this upcoming academic year and we cannot wait to show everyone what we’ve prepared. With this new year comes new members and new opportunities to inspire others to dance,” the group said in a shared statement.

Already hard at work this summer, J2K has just released their first dance cover of “Only You” by Korean Pop group Miss A.

The organization was created in 2013 by three OSU students who were inspired by the Hallyu cultural movement, also known as the Korean Wave. The founding members wanted to create a student organization, so they could have a way to perform and show off the culture.

Clint Robinson, a fourth-year in Korean and member of J2K, described the Hallyu movement as “infectious.”

“The Korean Wave started in the 1990s, and it’s the fascination with Korean pop culture. It started with Korean television dramas and has led to Korean pop music, which is more popular now,” Robinson said.

The influence of Korean pop culture in the U.S. spiked in 2012, when artist PSY released the song “Gangnam Style.” Since then, Korean pop music, or K-pop, has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and among OSU students.

“I think a lot of people are initially surprised at how western-sounding K-pop is,” Robinson said.  “The songs aren’t just about the songs; it’s about the performance, the dance and everything.”

The Hallyu cultural movement has added to J2K’s rapidly increasing popularity. In its third year, J2K has more than 100 members and the organization prides itself on being a club that’s open to dancers and nondancers of all levels.

Sherry Shi, a second-year in journalism who joined J2K her freshman year, had never danced before joining.

“I first joined because I really really love K-pop,” Shi said. “And now that I’m a member, everyone is so friendly and made me feel excited to dance and perform.”

J2K has performed at multiple OSU multicultural events, like Taste of OSU, the Taiwanese-American Student Association Moon Festival and the Japanese Spring Festival.

Shi said, “it was actually scary” to get on stage for her first performance at Taste of OSU in February.

“My group went last to perform, but the crowd was warmed up from the earlier performances,” Shi said. “Some people didn’t know the songs but could feel the atmosphere and got really excited for the performances and cheered.”

Asian pop music, and K-pop especially, is typically performed by groups of artists, sometimes as large as 13. Robinson described how the nature of K-pop groups translates to a student organization.

“With these larger performance groups, everyone gets a place and gets a chance to perform songs they know and love,” he said.

However it’s not just the setup of K-pop groups that have the biggest impact on the organization.

“The people involved in J2K have been able to find not only a hobby, but a passion, and some have even found a career,” said Robinson. “I joined J2K a month after it was created and I’ve seen our group grow so much since the beginning. We have such a diverse and large group but J2K has really grown into one large family.”

J2K performing to “Only You” by Korean Pop group Miss A in the student organization’s debut dance video. Courtesy of J2K.

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