Hello, Maple Leafs! I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to stop by and share a unique perspective on a growing niche within North American entertainment with you – it is close to home, both figuratively and literally. I grew up a good ol’ tug-of-war rope length away from Windsor, so even though I have not visited the capital yet (more on that later), I feel like I am decently qualified to share my thoughts. Not to mention, I have a valued level of nerdiness about this. Well, what is “this” anyway? It is K-pop, just a portion of the entertainment phenomenon referred to as Hallyu or the Korean Wave.
No matter how you refer to the city of Toronto – also known as “The Queen City” and “Toronto the Good” – it is the city’s motto, “Diversity Our Strength,” that positively reflects the continuous efforts of Torontonians to embrace the Hallyu community. The Canadian city is already a prominent player within the arts, so it only seems logical to welcome the dynamic Korean entertainment world into its folds. As a resident of the United States’ current new hub for Korean entertainment, here are 3 reasons why I believe that Toronto is the next big thing for North American K-pop fans.
Idols are Frequently “Rolling through The Six”
Drake references aside, the frequent visits are not just fresh-faced and competing on weekly music shows. Just recently, the city welcomed Lee Seung Chul, a singer-songwriter of roughly 30 years in South Korea, at Roy Thomson Hall. In fact, we are only a few weeks into 2016 and already have diverse concerts and showcases to anticipate in Toronto. Not a fan of VIXX or GOT7 (which I simply cannot fathom as a Starlight and an I GOT7)? Enjoy the turntables being rocked by DJ Kingmck. Rather avoid all sides of that coin and flip your mind into classical or contemporary stylings? Make time to enjoy So Young Heo’s upcoming performance. Not big on the music? Why not catch a new Korean film instead! The options are wide ranging and have been for quite some time.
There is Not One, but Two, Hallyu-focused Conventions
Hallyu North and Toronto K-pop Con are two unique opportunities for fans to make new friends, meet some of their favorite YouTube personalities and much more. The newcomer on the scene, Hallyu North, will take place May 6th and 7th at Canadian Exhibition Place, and features an expansive Korean marketplace and a food fest. The two-day event also features some popular YouTube personalities, such as JRE of JREKML, Michael Smith-Grant and Shimmycocopuffsss!
Later in May, Toronto K-pop Con will take over the Toronto Convention Centre from the 20th through the 22nd. Various vendors will be in attendance and K-pop fans are extremely thrilled to welcome idol boy bands VIXX and GOT7 to Toronto!
North and South Koreatowns
Christie Koreatown (Seaton Village), or Koreatown South, was the first Koreatown in Toronto and has the street signs to prove it! The original hub in Toronto for Korean shopping and dining options has evolved over the years, giving way to the Willowdale area, also known as Koreatown North. This area, particularly Yonge & Finch, boasts a larger Korean-Canadian population and more Korean stores and restaurants. It is hard to avoid the meshing of the various cultures when in the Koreatowns, and from various opinions, that is what makes these areas so appealing.
Last year would have been my first visit to the city, as I was a special invited guest to one of the previously mentioned conventions. Personal obligations cancelled that. This year, however, with two of my favorite groups making appearances and fellow Hallyu Vloggers making the trek to the city, I am actively planning a visit. Toronto is making an undeniable impact on Hallyu and I cannot wait to confirm these ripples with you soon!
Ashley Griffin is a diverse writer, blogger and YouTube Personality. An accidental nomad, Ms. Griffin currently resides in Houston, Texas. Find “Multifacetedacg” on YouTube and shoot her a message on Twitter.