Inside the K-pop & Latin Crossover Boom – Billboard

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When Momoland and T1419 first hit Puerto Rico in July, the K-pop groups networked with Latin artists, engaged with the Spanish-language press and walked the red carpet at the Premios Juventud 2022. During the awards ceremony, Momoland presented a TV award to CNCO alongside Puerto Rican artist Guaynaa.

Blitz was a natural next step for both Korean bands: months before, they not only headed to Mexico for a promotional tour, but also began exploring the Latin music space with collaborations and covers. In January, Momoland (formed by MLD Entertainment via a reality show in 2016) kicked off the year with their bilingual team Natti Natasha, “Yummy Yummy Love.” Shortly after, T1419, which debuted at the 2020 edition of G-Star’s annual Korean game expo, surprised fans with a cover of Daddy Yankee’s “campeon” which showcased the members’ impeccable Spanish-language singing and rapping skills. The nine-member boy band then released an urban Latin song, “When the Sun Goes Down”, co-written with Latin songwriters Daniel González Sobrino and Manu Manzo.

“It’s an honor that fans in Latin America hear our music in our language, but I think we need to reach out to them by tapping into their local music and language,” said Momoland Director Tim Kim. and T1419. “I tell my clients to focus on Latin America because it’s such an important market that has sometimes been overlooked by K-pop.” Kim says a lot of this has to do with the distance between Latin America and Korea – it often takes more than 24 hours to travel between them – but technology is helping to close that gap quickly. And now he wants his artists to take full advantage of it.

In 2020, Kim – a Korean-American who founded immersive 360-degree K-pop entertainment company KAMP Global – began working with Miami-based PR firm Nevarez Communications (Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, Carlos Vives) to develop an expansion strategy for his clients in Latin America. The next, and arguably most important, step for his company is to produce a two-day K-pop festival in Los Angeles in October, with lineups including Monsta X and Super Junior. Kim’s goal, he says, is to build the “Coachella of K-pop” and grow the event globally.

“The Latin market is huge, reggaetón is huge, and obviously K-pop is popular in Latin America, but that’s just the beginning,” Kim says. “We want to keep releasing music in Spanish – more covers, more Latin collaborations. After COVID-19, many doors have opened and we appreciate this market for giving us love.

This story will appear in the August 27, 2022 issue of Billboard.

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