East Asian popular culture has steadily gained a wider audience in the West. It’s no wonder the Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s student body has caught on. This semester marks the beginning of K-Club, “K” standing for Korean, a group dedicated to enjoying Korean television dramas, music, film and more.
Founder and President Maggie Herrera, a junior film major, ran a K-Club back in high school, and has now brought it to SFUAD in hopes that membership will grow and students will be exposed to a different culture. Though the club is currently streaming Korean TV dramas and movies, attendees are welcome to join Herrera afterward to participate in K-Pop dance covers for fun.
“I’m hoping that maybe we can do a small performance one day in the future if it’s ever big enough, where we all go dance on the Quad during lunch,” Herrera says. She lead her high school K-Club to dance competitions around the state. For now, she says she’s fine with the club staying the way it is and just dancing afterward while screening is the main focus.
“Korean dramas, I guess they just have something about them that just grabs at you,” says Brittany Lopez, a Design Tech sophomore who is in charge of seeking out dramas for the club to screen. “I love what they focus on and how they just go straight into it.” Fans of soap operas might enjoy Korean dramas for the theatrics and intense storylines.
Herrera says that the most satisfying part about introducing her friends and other club members to Korean dramas is witnessing their reactions. Korean film and television are useful in pointing out cultural differences. She describes it as a “culture shock” when first-time viewers witness things like the level of plastic surgery or amounts of bullying that go on in South Korea. Some of the screenings so far, such as 200 Pounds Beauty and Boys Over Flowers, address these issues directly while still remaining entertaining.
The exposure to different cultures is important for artists as well. Herrera has lived and worked abroad and has experienced Japanese and Korean culture firsthand. “It has definitely impacted my work greatly, and I would like to share that with other people,” Herrera says.
Being part of a community of people who have the same interests is a great way to connect to others in Lopez’s eyes. “I remember when I first started watching anime, everyone thought it was stupid. But I found some people who also liked anime, and then I got introduced to Korean dramas,” she says. The club is a place where fans and newbies alike can discuss important themes in the dramas and films and even get some recommendations from people who have the same tastes as them.
“The club won’t be K-Club forever. It’ll be J-Club (Japanese) next semester, and then it’ll change to C-Club (Chinese),” Herrera explains, “So we’ll spread into different cultures; it’s not just going to be one culture.” Herrera mentions that in the future she hopes the club might be able to bring in a language teacher, or get a small group together to attend the local Japanese festival.
“Don’t be scared, try something new!” Lopez says in regards to new members. K-Club meets at 9 p.m., Saturdays in the Forum. More information can be found on its Facebook page.