The number of Japanese people who have debuted as K-POP artists is growing. Even though the current boom in k-pop in Japan started in 2016 when BTS fame spread around the world and BLACKPINK debuted, if there weren’t 3 artists from TWICE (Mina, Momo, Sana) and 3 artists from IZ* ONE (Sakura Miyawaki, Nako Yabuki, Hitomi Honda), there might not be much excitement. In recent years, Giselle (aespa), Rei (IVE), Tsuki, Haruna and Hikaru (Billlie), Mashiro (Kep1er) have also generated great interest.
As of August 2022, including interns, about 200 girls are actively performing as K-POP artists or interns in Korea. If we try to look deeper and pay attention to stage costumes, hair, makeup, lighting, vocal training, public relations, professional photographers, dancers, and directing, it is said that there are about 1,200 Japanese working in K-POP.
From the point of view of South Korea, Japan is the 2nd largest market in the music industry in the world after the United States. However, not only in terms of market, but also in terms of human resources such as artists and personnel, Japan has gained an indispensable role in K-POP. In addition, there are new groups such as NiziU who audition in Japan but create musical concepts and choreography in Korea and work with a Japanese record company based in Japan. This relationship between the two countries will continue to deepen.
Let’s take a look at three Japanese artists who are attracting attention in Korea.
■1) Nakamura Kazuha【LE SSERAFIM】
LE SSERAFIM is an all-female idol band co-produced by HYBE and its affiliated label Source Music. The band is also famous for having Sakura Miyawaki among its members. There are 3 Korean women and 2 Japanese women in the group. Kazuha was born in 2003, Osaka Prefecture. The artist has studied ballet and modern dance since she was 3 years old, and when she was in junior high school, she became addicted to K-POP when she watched BLACKPINK‘s “BOOMBAYAH” music video. After that, Kazuha also attended a BLACKPINK concert in Osaka and shed tears of tenderness.
From 2015 to 2019, she was a winner of a prestigious ballet competition in Japan and studied at the National Ballet Academy in the Netherlands when she was a high school student. When the artist studied abroad, her roommate was a Korean woman who often cooked and ate Korean toppokki, and they watched Korean dramas together.
While studying abroad in the Netherlands in 2021, she applied for an online audition for Source Music as the pandemic began. Cazuha was in school preparing to audition for a ballet company when she received a letter of passage.
Two months before coming to Korea, she took Korean lessons at Zoom, and a vocal and dance coach came straight to Holland to teach her how to choreograph, sing and rap her debut songs. Kazuha did vocal practice in the morning and choreography in the afternoon, and arrived in Korea in January 2022. Kazuha spent a period of self-isolation in a hotel, and during that time she also practiced choreography for her debut song Fearless. She started recording “Blueflame” the day after she arrived at the hostel, and was greatly helped by Sakura Miyawaki.
■2) Fukutomi Tsuki【Billlie】
Billie, a group that debuted in 2021 in November, is owned by MYSTIC STORY. It is a group consisting of five Korean women and two Japanese women. Tsuki serves as the lead dancer.
Tsuki’s only video during her performance of “Gingamingayo” in this year’s K-Pop CON-TOUR has exceeded 10 million views. You can also see a high degree of attention as an artist’s personality. She was recently chosen to model for the Korean cosmetics brand Milk Touch mascara.
The artist was born in 2002 in Osaka Prefecture. Tsuki watched the girls’ generation perform, felt a yearning for idols, and became an SM entertainment intern when she was a junior high school student. She also performed on stage as a backup dancer for EXILE. Tsuki loved K-POP since her childhood and spoke fluent Korean. Today, it’s very common to see Tsuki on TV.
■3) Nagai Hina 【LIGHTSUM】
LIGHTSUM debuted in 2021 in June as an idol group that gives hope to all so that light (LIGHT) can reach everyone in the world (SUM). Hina performs in the group as a sub-vocalist. She was born in Kanagawa in 2003. She is 159 cm tall. She has studied ballet since a young age and auditioned in October 2019. Before moving to Korea, she trained at the K-POP Dance Academy in Tokyo. The dance, backed by 12 years of ballet experience, is beautiful.
In the past, Hina has bought TWICE albums with pocket money and participated in prestigious events held in Japan. Because the artist has big eyes and a facial expression reminiscent of a rabbit, Hina occasionally assumes a rabbit pose while filming. Her hobbies are phone conversations with her mother and friends and watching YouTube.
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