All Things Korean for International Fans: Bekah’s Panel at K-Con 2013

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Bekah, the former After School member, was one of the many guest panelists for the weekend K-Pop Convention in L.A, K-Con 2013.

On August 24th, from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., she attended an interview (moderated by her close friend Ae-young), answered fan questions and signed autographs for the huge crowd that came to see her. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this panel, and with my press access, be closer to the stage. For those who weren’t able to attend, I’m here to re-tell Bekah’s experience as a K-pop Idol.

How Did You Become a K-pop Star?

Bekah told the audience the story of how she got scouted. She was playing at a Volleyball game, when afterwards an “unnie” came and asked her if she wanted to audition. Bekah was very excited for this opportunity; however, when she was told she would have to sing and dance at the audition, Bekah almost decided not to do it. She said she was confident in her dancing (since she was taking lessons and practicing at the time) but not singing. In the end, she did decide to go and audition, and sang a Christian song she knew from her childhood. “Most people don’t realize this since I was a rapper for After School, but I love to sing, a lot!”

Bekah passed and got accepted to be a trainee. However, she didn’t start her training until a couple years later. “I didn’t want to go to Korea until I finished high school; that’s where all your memories are at. I didn’t want to miss that kind of experience”. When she did begin her training in Seoul, Bekah was only a trainee for six months before she debuted with the K-pop girl group, After School, in January 2009.

 The Good and the Bad of being a K-pop Idol:

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When asked to share her experience of being an idol, Bekah quickly said that it was a lot of hard work. They would have long practices, sometimes going as often as nine hours straight with little breaks. She herself didn’t mind the practices, because she enjoyed dancing and singing so much. She often got advice from her close friend, and fellow After School graduate, Kahi on how to handle the intense practices, “We work this hard, and this long for those five minutes on stage. Those five minutes on stage are what makes all of this worth it”.

Bekah’s least favorite part of being an idol was the lack of sleep. “Often we would get last minute events that were only a day or two away. So after our schedules, let’s say a schedule ended at 10 p.m., we would go straight to the practice room and rehearse until 5 or 6 in the morning. Sleep for an hour or two, and then wake up to go to the following day’s schedule. One time I got as little as 30 minutes of sleep. Enjoy your sleep while you can!”

Her favorite part of being an idol was the fans. “You guys are what make it worth it!” Moderator Ae-young asked if fans ever got too personal, and invaded her privacy. Bekah answered that luckily she has had very kind and polite fans over the years. If they ever see her in a restaurant, they would wait until after she was done eating to go up and ask to take pictures or sign something. She says that she treasures all the gifts she receives from fans, keeping them in boxes so they stay safe.

 Korea vs. America

Bekah expressed her move to Korea as a “culture shock”. Despite being full Korean, Bekah was born in Hawaii and was raised very much “American”. She claimed she never had the typical Asian parents who wanted her to be a doctor, but that they were (and still are) very supportive of her Artistic passions. Going to Korea however, helped Bekah become fluent in Korean and she got to know more about her own culture. She claimed that what she was going to miss most about Korea was the food; not only was it good but it was also cheap, and she loved the delivery service they had in Korea.

Dating and Friendship in the K-pop world:

Bekah (1)Fans were very curious if Bekah was close to any other K-pop idols during her time in After School. Bekah admitted that in the beginning she didn’t have any friends other than her members, and that it took her awhile before she got close to other idols. She stated her first friend (and who she is still close to even to this day) was Shinee’s Key. “We still text, but since he is so busy it often takes several days before I get a response”. Over the years she also became close to f(x)’s Amber, SNSD’s Sooyoung, and U-Kiss’s Kevin. When it comes to the After School members, Bekah stated that she was extremely close with Kahi and still keeps in close contact with her and some of the other members.

Fans were also curious, and very persistent, on trying to find out if Bekah dated any idol, and if she knew of any other K-pop idols that were dating during her time as an After School member. About herself, Bekah stated that she never dated another idol, “I was too busy practicing and working to date”. On the topic of other idols dating, she politely responded “All I have to say are that idols are humans too; if idols were dating each other then they really kept it secret because I never knew much about that stuff, but no, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. As I said, idols are humans too”.

She was asked then which idol she would personally date. Bekah took a moment to think before declaring U-Kiss’s Kevin. Fans quickly started shouting “Woo-young [2pm]”, surprising Bekah. When she asked fans why him, they reminded her of the 2pm episode of “Idol Army” when After School came in as guests. In that episode, Bekah chose Woo-young and the two became partners for that episode’s couple games. Bekah laughed and was surprised that fans remembered that. “Well Woo-young…yeah I could date him; he is very handsome and a good dancer”.

 Graduating After School, What Next?

After School is a K-pop girl group that has the “graduating” system; in which “senior” members rotate out, and new members comes into the rotation naturally. Bekah was the first girl to officially “graduate” from After School on July 1, 2011 and has been living back in her home town in Honolulu, Hawaii with her family. There she started her own online store, “I Crave You”, on October 26th, 2012, where she sells her handmade jewelry (a portion of the profits get donated to charity).

A fan asked Bekah the question that had been on most people’s minds, “Did you regret leaving After School?” Bekah was very quick and confident to answer “No, not at all. I thought about it for a long time, and I made sure to leave with no regrets. I was at a crossroad; at that time After School was getting ready to debut in Japan. And I thought to myself, if I don’t leave now then I’ll never be able to leave. I thought it was a good time when I left, and it also was a good time for the other girls to start over in Japan”.

But Bekah reassured her fans that leaving After School wasn’t the end of her singing career. Bekah is planning on a making an American debut! So far she cannot confirm any details of when she will be making her debut, but she hopes her fans will be patient and wait for her.

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 Next there was a transition to the Question Portion of the panel, where the audience could ask Bekah any questions about her life as a K-pop star, and any other miscellaneous inquires. Many of the questions became requests to see female idol sing or rap her part in an After School song, dance, perform “aegyo”, and even twerk! Bekah promised that she would sing, rap and dance properly when she came back to meet her fans in L.A. However, fans were able to coax out a small rap from Bekah and she even stood and performed the first thirty seconds of “Bang” (which she also stated was her favorite After School title track).

Bekah stayed another full hour for the autograph session before she left for the day. However, on Day 2 of K-Con she reappeared to film for “Danny from LA” live first episode of the second season, along with other panelist guests (including Super Junior M’s Henry!).

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You can relive the magic this week when M COUNTDOWN What’s up LA is televised in the U.S. by Mnet America on air and online at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT on Thursday, August 29.  

Author: Jini

So Cal 1.5 Generation Korean-American / Teacher-In-Training / Freelance MC and Kor-Eng Interpreter

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