We thought we’ve seen them all. There has been foreign members being added to K-pop groups, so much so that it has become a norm; the complicated split group system of NCT was also well accepted (albeit reluctantly) by fans; we’ve laughed at the parody K-Pop group that is BgA; and stared in disbelief as a Thai cover group imitated everything EXO did (even the members’ departures and dating news).
Nothing else could surprise us, or so we thought.
The latest oddity to the world of K-Pop is an American group by the name of EXP Edition, who proudly declared their origins with the hashtag #borninNYmadeinSEOUL.
EXP Edition was originally formed in 2015 as a project group by Colombia graduate student Bora Kim and her partners Karin Kuroda and Samantha Shao. They were part of the thesis project “I’m Making A Boy Band” and consisted of 6 members.
According to Drama Fever, while none of the members are Korean, EXP Edition decided to label themselves as a K-Pop group due to their similarities. These includes their highly skilled choreography, songs sung in Korean, and love for the Korean fandom culture.
The members of the group are also trying their best to learn the Korean language and take daily 2-hour lessons from Kim.
Thought to be a temporary group, the members of EXP Edition (reduced to 4 from the original 6) has since moved from New York to South Korea to kick off their K-Pop careers.
They debuted their music video teaser for “Feel Like This” on 13th April, completed with the mandatory close up and slow motion shots seen in many K-pop groups teasers.
The group has also dropped their official trailer voiced by member Frankie. In the full-Korean video, Frankie introduces the other members – Sime, Hunter, and Koki – and the beginnings of their group.
This was met with angry comments from K-Pop fans, who barraged their social media with messages asking them to quit. Amongst complaints from fans are that the group is appropriating K-Pop culture and whitewashing, seeing as none of them are Korean or even speak the language.
As YouTube user Peregrine Grace puts it, “(K-Pop) provided positive Asian male role models, while in America you literally shitted on us. So the fact that a bunch of white American males will even consider moving to Korea to try and get famous, whitewashing our narratives yet again, is a huge slap in the face. Like I’m literally pained and upset you thought this was okay. I mean, you have a dream. I get it, but what about us? What about all of the erasure we experience? What. About. Us.”
Fans have also asked for the group to debut as an American group instead of labeling themselves as a “K-Pop group”.
Despite criticism, they forged ahead with the release of their official debut single “Feel Like This” just today (Monday, 17th April). The group has also made public their track on all major Korean music charts, in true fashion for a K-Pop release.
While their 2015 track “LUV/WRONG” was dominantly filled with English lyrics, with only the chorus sung in Korean, their latest song was recorded mainly in Korean. The heavily auto-tuned track is played while the members walk around aimlessly in a tunnel and a clearing.
The visuals and filters remind us strongly of many K-Pop MVs, and the music video looks like a mash-up of BIGBANG, BLACKPINK, BTS, and other idol groups.
Watch the music video for “Feel Like This” here:
Although most K-Pop fans are up in arms about the group and their new track, EXP Edition is not without their supporters.
“The internet has to chill. If Asians get praised when they sing English songs why can’t a bunch of white guys sing Koreans songs together? They work hard like all the other K-Pop groups so why don’t they deserve the love and support EXO, BTS, AOA etc. receive?” said YouTube user Stallar Yang.
A Twitter user who goes by the handle of @exoticathepanda also implored fans to stop giving the group a hard time. The tweet read, “Y’all are already roasting EXP Edition when you haven’t even seen what they have to offer yet, so stop judging.”
It remains to be seen if EXP Edition will be successful in the K-Pop circuit and if they will change fans’ perception of them.
What are your thoughts about EXP Edition? Do you think they deserve to be labelled a K-Pop group? Tell us what you think in the comments box below!