Dreams of K-pop stardom entice Japan's youth to Korea, despite political rancour [Photos]

There are almost a million youngsters hoping to find fame through K-pop, among them a vast Japanese talent that is reshaping the industry at a time of political acrimony between the two countries.

FP Staff May 02, 2019 18:08:51 IST
Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, who wants to become a K-pop star, watches her friend's performance during their street performance in the Hongdae area of Seoul in South Korea. Hasumi put high school in Japan on hold and flew to South Korea in February to try her chances at becoming a K-pop star, even if that means long hours of vocal and dance training, no privacy, no boyfriend, and even no phone. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
1/10
Japanese Yuuka Hasumi, who wants to become a K-pop star, watches her friend's performance during their street performance in the Hongdae area of Seoul in South Korea. Hasumi put high school in Japan on hold and flew to South Korea in February to try her chances at becoming a K-pop star, even if that means long hours of vocal and dance training, no privacy, no boyfriend, and even no phone. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Two applicants who want to become K-pop stars, spend time before taking part in an audition in Seoul. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
2/10
Two applicants who want to become K-pop stars, spend time before taking part in an audition in Seoul. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Applicants perform at an Acopia School party in Seoul, South Korea. Acopia is a prep school offering young Japanese a shot at K-pop stardom, teaching them the dance moves, the songs and also the language. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
3/10
Applicants perform at an Acopia School party in Seoul, South Korea. Acopia is a prep school offering young Japanese a shot at K-pop stardom, teaching them the dance moves, the songs and also the language. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, practices dancing to K-pop songs in her room in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon.
4/10
Nao Niitsu, 19, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, practices dancing to K-pop songs in her room in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon.
Miyu Takeuchi, a trainee with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment, sings during a training session in Seoul. Takeuchi said it wasn't a difficult decision to leave a 10-year career with a top idol band <em>AKB48</em> back home in Japan to sign with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment in March as a trainee. Even with her experience, she has seven hours of vocal training a day and two-hour dance lessons twice a week, plus early morning Korean lessons. She is not allowed to have a boyfriend but she says she has no regrets, despite the fact there is no guarantee she will make it. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
5/10
Miyu Takeuchi, a trainee with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment, sings during a training session in Seoul. Takeuchi said it wasn't a difficult decision to leave a 10-year career with a top idol band <em>AKB48</em> back home in Japan to sign with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment in March as a trainee. Even with her experience, she has seven hours of vocal training a day and two-hour dance lessons twice a week, plus early morning Korean lessons. She is not allowed to have a boyfriend but she says she has no regrets, despite the fact there is no guarantee she will make it. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Japanese children warm up for an audition at a park in Seoul, South Korea. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
6/10
Japanese children warm up for an audition at a park in Seoul, South Korea. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Nao Niitsu, college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, and other Japanese children sit on a bus heading for an audition in Seoul, South Korea, on 15 March, 2019. During a visit to Seoul paid for by her mother, herself a die-hard BTS fan, Niitsu auditioned for 10 agencies and was accepted by five. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
7/10
Nao Niitsu, college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, and other Japanese children sit on a bus heading for an audition in Seoul, South Korea, on 15 March, 2019. During a visit to Seoul paid for by her mother, herself a die-hard BTS fan, Niitsu auditioned for 10 agencies and was accepted by five. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
A K-pop applicant sings during an audition in Seoul, South Korea. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
8/10
A K-pop applicant sings during an audition in Seoul, South Korea. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
Yuho Wakamatsu, 15, who wants to become a K-pop star, adjusts her makeup during a training session in Seoul. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
9/10
Yuho Wakamatsu, 15, who wants to become a K-pop star, adjusts her makeup during a training session in Seoul. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.
A K-pop applicant performs at an audition in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon.
10/10
A K-pop applicant performs at an audition in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon.