Left to Right, Hyoyeon from the band Girls Generation, Jeno from the band NCT, Lee Teuk from the band Super Junior During the SMTOWN Live World Tour VI Press conference Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

As soon as a member from each SM Entertainment group stepped up on stage at the press conference before their concert in Dubai, the audience instantly filled with excitement and cheers, proving that K-Pop has indeed reached UAE’s shores and is here to stay.

Apart from being interrupted by enthusiastic fans during the speeches on stage, the SM artists continued to showcase their excitement at being in Dubai and love for their fans, especially Super Junior’s Leeteuk who showed off his Arabic-language greeting skills, even placing his microphone next to his phone to play ‘I love Dubai’ in Arabic over the speaker.

Addressing the media were Kangta, TVXQ’s U-Know, Jay from TraxX and Hyoyeon from Girls’ Generation. Also joining these SM Entertainment artists were SHINee’s Key, Luna from f(X), Exo’s Suho, Red Velvet’s Irene, and Jeno from NCT Dream.

The artists were nothing but accommodating, exuding a family-like aura. They shared their thoughts on K-Pop’s popularity in the Middle East, how they stay grounded despite their success and what they’ve got planned in the future. Here are excerpts from the interview:


Kangta and BoA, the two of your are often regarded as the pioneers of K-Pop in Asia, what with one of you being a former H.O.T member. What are your thoughts on K-Pop’s popularity in the Middle East?

Kangta: We never expected that it will be [this] popular... and we thought that the mania is actually the spirit of K-Pop, but we think that K-Pop is following the trend. Well, it’s actually very fast and leading the trend. So, we think that we should make more firm music and then build up more firm things for K-Pop, but we think that the most important thing and the most powerful thing of K-Pop is the speed. It’s very fast in trend.


What’s the secret to keeping grounded, staying true to your fans and having that strong bond with each other despite your growing success and popularity?

U-Know: We think that the most important thing is having the bond and [interacting] with the fans... the connection with the fans [is] the most powerful thing for us to maintain our power in the stage. So, the most important thing we think is making the stage together, rather than just us performing.


What’s in store for the future for you all?

Jeno: We recently released an album NCT 2018 and so we’re planning to perform throughout the world.

Key: This is my very first visit to Dubai and I really like what I have seen so far. I wouldn’t mind if there are more opportunities to return, either individually or as a group.


Are the rest of you equally busy?

Irene: We’re having a tour in Japan starting from May but not only in Japan. We also want to perform in the UAE too.

Suho: We’re on a tour actually right now, the Exo tour, and also we have members doing their individual schedule. We are planning to release an album but right now, we also have Exo’s CBX they’re going to come back. They’re going to release a song too.

Jay: Recently we have a new member named Ginjo and also we transformed our music into EDM. So, we’re planning to perform on many festivals and EDM festivals and also we are planning to release a song, a lot of songs.


Luna, will we see more music coming from f(x)?

Luna: I’m going to release my third song which I wrote and also as a member of f(x), we will perform on stage. So, we will release some songs too.


Any f(x) comebacks?

Luna: They are always ready and if there’s a good song, they will meet their fans with a good song.


What about the boys from TVXQ? Are we seeing some more music coming our way?

U-Know: We recently released our eighth album New Chapter [#] 1: The Chance of Love and it’s been a while since we met our fans and we’re also planning to start at Nissan Stadium in Japan. So, we hope to meet all of our fans with various contents.


What do you guys do when you’re not actually on stage on running from crazed fans chasing you?

Kangta: I’m actually a DJ of my radio programme right now and also I’m preparing for a musical too but I think I’ll have more activities in the future. So, I hope to meet my fans.

Hyoyeon: There was recently an article out on me. I’m actually DJ Hyo instead of Hyoyeon [laughter]. So, it’s a very different music genre and I hope our fans look forward for us.

Jay: We should do many collaborations together since it’s both EDM and DJ.

Leeteuk: I don’t want us to be limited to artist who come to Dubai just for a concert. We want more chances to show up here, be it for a television drama, a musical or even DJing. We want more experience. Who is there willing to give us a chance?


We hear Super Junior is heading out on a tour soon.

Leeteuk: It was our dream to perform in the UAE and we’re also planning to go too Latin America after this tour. So, we’re looking forward to go there. But truth be [told], we have been most eager to come to UAE. Also, we are planning to release our repackaged album on April 12, so please look forward to that. We have also collaborated with a singer named Leslie [Grace] who is also planning to come with us on the Latin American tour.