Korean Music and Culture Take Center Stage at Berklee’s Business of K-Pop and the Korean Wave Symposium

Shaun H. Ruff


Performances from the Korean Culture Student Association and synthpop sensation ADOY punctuated an in-depth panel discussion with K-pop industry influencers.

A celebration and exploration of Korean music and culture captured the spotlight Tuesday night at the Berklee Performance Center, as Berklee presented the Business of K-Pop and the Korean Wave Symposium. The event featured musical performances and a nuanced conversation about the international impact of K-pop, with insights from major industry figures.

Produced by Berklee’s Music Business/Management and Professional Music departments, the event was made possible by a generous grant by the CJ Cultural Foundation.

Berklee's Business of K-pop Symposium Panel Discussion

Jake Hong of the CJ E&M media company and Daniel Ha, CEO of Kohai, discuss the Korean music and entertainment industry with Tonya Butler, chair of the Music Business/Management Department. 

Image by Dave Green

Headline act ADOY, an indie synthpop quartet that has been making headlines in the Korean pop music world, dazzled attendees with an energetic set that marked their first-ever show on U.S. soil. The performance followed a panel discussion with ADOY band members Juwhan and Zee, as well as band manager Daniel Ha, who is the founder and CEO of the music agency Kohai, and special guest Jake Hong, director of U.S. music business at CJ E&M media company. Berklee’s Korean Culture Student Association set the tone for the evening with a set showcasing the musical breadth of Korean styles.

“Even as recent as five years ago, I would never have anticipated the way that K-pop and Korean entertainment have captivated the attention of the world,” said Hong. “The community is full of very disciplined, very humble people who are grateful to partake in this success and who will continue to work hard to make inspiring art. I think the industry has an extremely bright and exciting future.”

Berklee’s Korean Culture Student Association perform at Business of K-pop Symposium

Students of Berklee’s Korean Culture Student Association kick off the K-pop symposium.

Image by Dave Green

“The conversation around K-pop and Korean entertainment usually focuses on the content produced by these brilliant artists,” said Tonya Butler, discussion moderator and chair of the Music Business/Management Department. “This symposium is a unique opportunity because, in addition to celebrating K-pop through music, we are getting insight into the business side of the art directly from people delivering this amazing content to the world.”

The symposium represented the second half of a two-part event. The Business of K-Pop: A&R Listening Session, hosted by Chris Wares, assistant chair of the Music Business Department, and Hae Joo Kim, assistant chair of the Professional Music Department, took place Tuesday afternoon as a Berklee-exclusive session where students who submitted music for review received feedback from industry experts, including KAIROS and Adrian McKinnon, both of whom have contributed to some of the biggest K-pop songs of all time.


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