Radio Kimchi UK brings Korean music and culture to the airwaves

Back in 2015, I was invited on a radio show in the UK, called Radio Kimchi UK, which one of our fabulous former writers hosts, to talk about Korean indie music. And I, of course, wrote about the experience. Fast forward to January 2017 and Julia asked if I would be interested in doing a regular 4-5 minute segment on the show, talking about Korean indie music. Of course, as a music lover, I said yes.

So now I do a monthly segment on Radio Kimchi UK, a weekly show in the UK which plays K-pop music and talks about Korean culture. And I’m not the only one who’s doing mini segments on the program as Julia, the host, continues to grow and diversify the show. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s talk about the show first.

Image courtesy of Radio Kimchi UK’s Facebook page

So what’s Radio Kimchi UK?

It’s an hour long radio show that airs every Tuesday from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm (UK time) – which is 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST – hosted by DJ Julia. They even do the occasional 2 hour special! The radio show focuses on K-pop and Korean culture mainly but with the additions of the new(ish) segments, it covers more elements of Korean pop culture from music, in all its forms, to film and dramas. And don’t worry if you’re not in the UK (hey, I’m not), you can listen to it live online (links at the end of the article) or you can check it out afterwards at your leisure on Mixcloud.

And to give you a more complete picture of the show – because I think it’s a great idea – I asked Julia about it and she kindly answered a few questions. I also asked the others who do the segments a little about what they talk about and who they are. Keep reading for all the details.

Our questions for DJ Julia about the show…

Are you the founder of the show? Why did you (or whomever founded the show) decide to do a radio show about K-pop? When did it start?

I am not the founder of the show. It was actually an idea that was created by a non profit arts organisation called Theatre4All and was initially a Korean language radio show back in 2011. However, now it is a radio show that promotes Korean music and Korean culture in the UK! I became the main host for Radio Kimchi UK back in 2015 and I’ve always wanted to have my own radio show, even before I became interested in Korean music. I actually did not plan to host Radio Kimchi UK because I originally wanted some kind of work experience at a radio station. So I think I was just lucky when Theatre4All contacted me back asking me to become one of their radio DJs!

How did DJ Julia get into Korean music and culture?

I first came across Korean music back in 2010 when my younger sister introduced me to SHINee and their iconic track “Ring Ding Dong”. Since then I became heavily interested in Korean pop and eventually other genres such as hip hop and R&B. As an aspiring musician, I started to learn the lyrics for some of my favourite K-pop songs and made vocal song covers. By singing the songs, I knew I wanted to learn the Korean language and therefore enrolled in a three year Korean language course at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK). Through this course and participating in other activities such as KCCUK’s 2nd K-Pop Academy, Korea Tourism Organisation’s K-Star Entertainment Vocal and Dance workshops and attending Korean cultural festivals in London, I became more knowledgeable and immersed in the culture.

What has the reception been like for the show?

Since I’ve been the main presenter, I’ve moulded it into a show that caters towards international K-pop fans and Korean culture enthusiasts. I didn’t want to just play music, I wanted to engage in discussions about various aspects of Korean culture, fan culture, etc. At first, I only had maybe 3 to 5 listeners a week but now, we have regular listeners living all around the UK and have had listeners from USA, South Korea, France, Spain, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand! Our Twitter account started with 8 followers and now has 362 followers. Every week, there are views on our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as 94 listeners/followers so far on our Facebook group! It is a slow and steady process but we’re getting there!

Why did you decide to add segments from other people on other topics?

I decided to add the segments because I wanted to develop the content of my radio show. The show for me has always been made for the listeners and Radio Kimchi UK lives by the motto “we’re not just here to play music, we’re here to entertain, inform and connect to a wider range of audiences about Korean culture”. In order for me to live by the motto, I knew I had to make decisions such as expanding the Radio Kimchi UK team. I wanted to introduce other Korean culture enthusiasts who specialise in a particular aspect of Korea so that our audience (regardless of whether they are a K-pop fan or a Korean literature reader for example) can constantly feel engaged, while learning and it makes the show more fun! Having these segments have helped and it’s really awesome to hear feedback that the listeners want to hear more from the rest of the team (though, I do hope they don’t forget about me!)

What do you hope to accomplish with Radio Kimchi UK?

I would really like Radio Kimchi UK to be the main radio show platform that promotes Korean culture and Korean music in the UK. I have many plans and ideas that I want to get working on, but it involves a lot of right timing, patience and perseverance. One of the ideas that I’m hoping to do with Radio Kimchi UK is organising its first meet up event for the listeners to meet myself, each other and hopefully some of the team members who are based in the UK and have a fun day out. Other ideas include covering particular Korean events and doing a one-off podcast/discussion roundtable with EVERY Radio Kimchi UK member! Will Radio Kimchi UK still be here in the next five years? Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see what the horizon holds out for us…

What are the segments about?

LAWR (Lex’s Asian Rap World) News

This segment about Korean hip hop is by Lex Jones and it’s bi-weekly. However, it’s currently on hiatus due to Lex moving to Korea. Lex will be doing lots of cool things in Korea for Lex’s Asian Rap World and he’ll be back on Radio Kimchi UK so stay tuned.

Korean Films 101

This segment’s title is pretty self-explanatory – it’s about Korean films. It’s a weekly segment by Eddie.

Kimchi K-dramaland

This is another weekly segment, but it’s about Korean dramas by Simran. She’s a 20 year old university student studying criminology who started getting into Korean dramas when she came across Personal Taste (개인의 취향) staring Lee Minho (이민호) and Son Ye Jin (손예진). The storyline interested her and she found the drama both really good and different from the Indian dramas she grew up watching. Now she shares she love of K-dramas through the segment.

Indie for Your Seoul (K-indie)

This is my segment and it’s a monthly one (usually on the last Tuesday of the month). Each month I talk about three different Korean indie bands, giving a brief introduction about each, along with a song recommendation. I went with this format because the number one thing I get asked about Korean music is people asking me who to listen to. Might as well give people what they want – and there’s tons of great indie bands to talk about!

How can you listen to Radio Kimchi UK?

Like I said before, you can listen to the show live on Tuesdays between 7:00 – 8:00 pm (UK time) which is 2:00 – 3:00 pm (EST). Here are some links for the live show:

Don’t forget to check them out on Twitter and Facebook too!

Final Thoughts

Even if I wasn’t involved, I’d recommend listening to the show. I love what Julia is doing with it because there’s something – or more likely, lots of things – for the listeners to get excited about. I didn’t even talk about the special guests, interviews and more that happen on the show. Or the music that gets played. But don’t listen to me, check out the show and find out for yourself! Just click one of the links! You know you want to!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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