TPOK dancers Braeden Loveless, Woo Chan Lee, Harry Lee, Rick Bality, Brian Lee, Affiq Roslin, and Thomas Quan at the 2019 Korean Culture Show in the Ohio Union’s performance hall. Credit | Courtesy of TPOK

Korean pop music’s popularity is at an all-time high in the United States, with Korean groups such as boy band BTS breaking into the Western music scene. That popularity has made its mark on campus in the form of K-pop dance groups.

Top Pride of Korea is an all-male student dance group at Ohio State that performs to K-pop music. TPOK consists of about seven male dancers each year who all dance exclusively to some of the best K-pop songs, Braeden Loveless, a third-year in pharmaceutical sciences and TPOK’s president, said.

Loveless said he began dancing two years ago when he joined TPOK. He said experience and skill are not the only defining factors the group looks for during its auditions, which were recently held.

“Usually what we look for is someone who can take criticism well and adjust when needed without getting too worked up about it, as well as someone who can learn what we teach them rather quickly and efficiently,” Loveless said.

Loveless said TPOK’s choreography for each song imitates the original artist’s routine. He said the group does its best to mimic and teach the moves, while altering them to fit TPOK’s own style and number of dancers.

Woo Chan Lee, a second-year in mathematics, has danced with TPOK for two years. He said the group welcomes any male who appreciates K-pop and dance.

Although TPOK focuses almost exclusively on dancing to K-pop music, Lee said it is not necessary to be Korean to join the group. Echoing Loveless, Lee added that sometimes experience is not all it comes down to as long as there is effort.

“Often, auditionees who have little to no dance experience end up having a better chance to get accepted than experienced dancers, as long as we can see some good demonstrations of such abilities,” Lee said.

TPOK emphasizes teamwork and the desire to dance in a fun, familial way instead of taking a highly competitive focus, Lee said.

Loveless said even if the audition is someone’s first time dancing, he encourages them to take the leap and try out. 

“Many guys are scared for auditioning, but honestly even if you’re terrible at dancing, we still love to see you audition,” Loveless said. “This is because many people think they can’t dance when they actually can. In TPOK, we are all friends and teach in a very friendly environment.”

Both Loveless and Lee said the men in the group are some of their best friends whom they might not have met if it weren’t for TPOK.

“We are simply a group of people who love dancing. We have fun in each practice and in each performance instead of staying dead serious to achieve absolute perfection,” Lee said.

TPOK’s next performance is 6-8 p.m. Oct. 19 for an event hosted by the Taiwanese American Student Association. Event details will be posted on the TPOK and TASA’s Facebook pages.