Within recent years, Korean Pop – or K-pop for short – has become a known genre worldwide, and the musical community has grown exponentially in popularity. As a fan, it is expected to want to find others who share the same music taste and hobbies as you.
Being in a space where it is easy to find others who share similar interests while feeling happy and included is the main goal for the Edmonton-based Instagram page @YEGKpop.
Despite being in the Edmonton K-pop community for a long time, Alexandra San Diego, the co-founder of @YEGKpop, says there were several people she had never met in person before and has met them through trading K-pop photo cards. Hence, one of the reasons for starting this K-pop community Instagram page.
“Even if you’re shipping [photo cards] within Edmonton, the cost is high,” San Diego says. “So why not just meet up and trade in person?”
On Oct. 28, @YEGKpop hosted their seventh in-person KPOP-UP event. It occurred at Felice Café, a local coffee shop near Commonwealth Stadium that has rentable space for events like KPOP-UP.
The event consisted of local Instagram creators selling merchandise of their favourite artists, skincare, and stationery. A round total of 150 attendees also had the chance to buy merchandise and photo cards, decorate K-pop card sleeves, take photos in themed photo booths, trade photo cards with others at the Trading Table, and talk to others about their favourite artists.
“It was definitely our most successful event that we’ve ever had,” San Diego says. “It’s just good news because we do have an event in a much bigger space coming up this month actually. And so, I think people really like it.”
San Diego says the main goal for these kinds of events is to have Edmonton K-pop fans meet outside of an online platform and make new friends in person. It can be easy to meet fans online through social media, but even harder face-to-face; another reason @YEGKpop creates these events for the Edmonton K-pop community.
“There’s been a lot of experiences like, “Oh, I saw your account,” or, “I heard of you,” or, “Oh, now we finally get to meet,” San Diego says. “I think the main goal really is to try and build a community.”
The co-founder says that it is a “really unique experience for people” to meet the person behind the Instagram account that they have been making trades with.
“It’s kind of different when you go to a K-pop store, or if you go to Sunrise Records or something like that. The people that work there might not necessarily be a fan,” San Diego says. “It’s a different experience when the person you’re buying from is also someone that enjoys this stuff.”
As an attendee of @YEGKpop‘s seventh KPOP-UP event, it was an inspiring experience seeing San Diego’s goal be achieved personally. Vendors were seen conversing with customers about specific artists; traders were bargaining with other traders for photo cards they wanted. It seemed that everyone was friendly with one another because of their shared interest in K-pop.
These events hosted by @YEGKpop are the beginning of the Instagram page’s journey. San Diego says the main goal is to one day open a K-pop store and café in Edmonton and create a safe space for fans of the genre to interact with others who know the artists. They also say that when it comes to K-pop and K-culture, these events help bring insight into what people in Edmonton want.
“That’s the goal is that it’s a space where people feel safe, that they belong,” San Diego says. “That’s a long-term goal for the page.”