Entertainment

Meet the Korean-Mexican Hearthrob Topping The K-Pop Charts

Meet Samuel Arredondo Kim — or Samuel, as he’s better known in South Korea where he’s currently a K-pop idol. Yes, you read that correctly. There’s a Latino K-pop idol.

Credit: Brave Entertainment

While there have been other half-Latino figures in Korean entertainment industry in the past – like the Korean hip-hop pioneer Carlos Galvan (Mexican/Korean-American) of the ’90s group Uptown and Tia Cuevas (of Puerto Rican descent) from the now defunct K-pop girl group ChoColat – Samuel is the most prominent and only current figure since Hallyu (Korean wave) exploded worldwide.

Born in Los Angeles to a Korean mother and Mexican dad, the 15-year-old made his solo debut this past August with the electro bubblegum pop jam “Sixteen” and gave us major Justin Bieber “Baby” era vibes.     

Korea calculates age differently, making people one or two years older depending on the month they’re born. That’s why Samuel sings about being 16.

The  singer speaks English, Korean and poquito Spanish.

However, he has said he feels weird speaking English since he’s lived in Korea for so long.

Since he was very young, Samuel exuded star potential. He got his start making extremely cute commercials for a Volkswagen dealership in Bakersfield, which the internet speculates is owned by his family.

And because all that talent couldn’t be wasted, Samuel moved to Korea at 11 years old and started training to become a K-pop idol at Pledis Entertainment. 

Pledis Entertainment

He was initially part of the original lineup of the now very successful boy band SEVENTEEN, where he was the maknae, or the youngest member of the group.

SEVENTEEN trained for many years together, gearing up for debut as a 17 member band. However, the wait was long and some members ultimately left, including Samuel, citing personal reasons.

But this wasn’t the end of the road for Samuel. He soon joined another Korean company, Brave Entertainment, and debuted as the hip-hop duo 1Punch.

He performed under the moniker Punch along with another member, One. He was 13-years-old and One was 20.

While cringey and hella problematic, “Turn Me Back” and “Nightmare” gave us the first results of his training. The boy had not only grown in dance, but was also singing and rapping. 1Punch didn’t last long though, and One soon left to join YG Entertainment, the entertainment giant home to acts like PSY, Big Bang and 2NE1.

Punch gave it another go, though, and released an East-meets-West collaboration with the “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” singer Silentó.

Even though the song won the Global Collaboration Award at the Seoul Music Awards earlier this year, “Spotlight” didn’t lead to much success for Samuel. And yet, he persisted.

Samuel joined the second season of the competition show Produce 101 in early 2017.

Produce 101/Mnet

On Produce 101, participants competed against each other through a series of performances in hopes of making it into the 11-member supergroup lineup. The participants were all trainees of different South Korean entertainment companies, and most (though not all) had yet to debut. Viewers served as “producers” and voted for their favorites to make it onto the top 11. By the end of the show, the group Wanna One was formed. Because the show turned out to be a smash hit, they group is the most popular K-pop act of the moment.   

Throughout the show, Samuel was considered as one of the top contenders for the win. He immediately gained attention for his dance skills and the fact that he co-choreographed most of his teams’ performances. Samuel continuously placed within the top spots and was among the most popular trainees.

But in an unfortunate twist of events, he ended up placing at number 18 on the final and didn’t make the group. Fans were livid, especially the ones outside of Korea who weren’t allowed to vote, and even set up a petition seeking justice.  

International fans were especially invested in seeing Samuel win, in part, because they wanted to see a Latino thrive as a K-pop idol.

But not making the cut actually turned out to be a blessing for the singer. Within days of the show’s ending, the head of Brave Entertainment released a statement announcing his solo debut, “Sixteen.”

Upon release, the first batch of physical albums sold out, with many of the copies being shipped overseas. “Sixteen” reached number one on the iTunes worldwide albums chart in countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, and placed within the top 10 in Singapore, Thailand and other countries.

Your Moment of Kpop/tumblr

The K-pop industry is oversaturated and cutthroat, so the fact that Samuel is still standing and thriving at such a young age is nothing short of amazing. Hard work pays off, and after a successful debut EP, Samuel will be coming out with a full album in October. And if it’s anything like “Sixteen,” we’re surely in for a treat of pristine pop perfection.


READ: There’s A New Frida Kahlo-Inspired Makeup Compact Made By A Korean Beauty Brand

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BTS And It’s ‘Army’ Donated Over $2 Million To Black Lives Matter

Things That Matter

BTS And It’s ‘Army’ Donated Over $2 Million To Black Lives Matter

Dia Dipasupil / Getty

The world’s most favorite Kband is also taking a stand alongside Black Lives Matter. BTS, the seven-member South Korean boy band and their fan-based charity fundraising group “One In An ARMY” launched a campaign to raise funds for the Black Lives Matter movement. One In An ARMY launched after BTWS donated $1 million to the movement.

Big Hit Entertainment, the music label behind BTS, confirmed the group’s donation to the Black Lives Matter campaign that has all K-fans excited.

Last week, BTS shared their support on Twitter.

In a post to their Twitter page, BTS wrote “We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”

The substantial BTS donation was made during a time that protests broke out across the country after the recent deaths of police victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

In response to BTS’s donation, Kailee Scales, the managing director for Black Lives Matter said that she was moved by BTS’s generosity.

“Black people all over the world are in pain at this moment from the trauma of centuries of oppression,” Scales said in a statement to Variety earlier this week.“. “We are moved by the generosity of BTS and allies all over the world who stand in solidarity in the fight for Black lives.”

On Sunday, BTS’s $1 million donations inspired the #MatchAMillion on Twitter.

Within 24 hours of the #MatchAMillion trend, fans raised over $817,000.

By the end of Sunday, the ARMY fundraiser revealed on Twitter that they had reached their $1 million goal. The fundraiser decided to donate the $1 million donations to “Bailouts for those arrested for protesting police brutality” and “support for the physical and mental health of the black community.”

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K-Pop Stans Took Over #WhiteLivesMatter On Twitter Completely Shutting Down The Hashtag

Entertainment

K-Pop Stans Took Over #WhiteLivesMatter On Twitter Completely Shutting Down The Hashtag

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

K-Pop is both one of the most popular and most polarizing music created. It has made a global impact with fandoms everywhere. However, sometimes you just can’t get on Twitter without seeing the videos of K-Pop flooding popular hashtags and discussions. The latest K-Pop Twitter takeover was something everyone could get behind.

K-Pop completely shut down a social media party of #WhiteLivesMatter.

Black Lives Matter protests have cropped up around the world and they don’t show any sign of slowing down. They continue to grow in size and the protest has gone international with protesters fighting for American Black lives. In response, some people tried to make #WhiteLivesMatter a thing on Twitter but K Pop fans shut it down quickly.

K-Pop stans really came through in an unexpected yet obvious way.

K-Pop stans are a force to be reckoned with. They are loud and large in numbers and when they want to be seen and heard on Twitter nothing can stop them. They are very engaged on social media and they came out to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Imagine wanting to go to #WhiteLivesMatter to legitimately see something and then seeing K Pop everywhere.

There was some choice speculation about the reaction of #WhiteLivesMatter supporters watching their hashtag get derailed.

Alt-right Twitter users have been using this tactic for years attempting to derail all progressive and unifying social media movements. The sudden reversal in the dynamics of social media manipulation is something we should all be celebrating thanks to the fast-acting K Pop fans.

Not only did K-Pop fans take over the hashtag, Twitter even classified its ranking within K Pop.

That’s what you call success. #WhiteLivesMatter was stunted in its original mission of trying to lessen the Black Lives Matter protests demanding racial justice. There has long been a group of people trying to take attention away from Black Lives Matter under a cloak of caring for all people. Some have even claimed that it was racist to say Black Lives Matter because it somehow minimizes other lives.

Black Lives Matter is not trying to say other lives do not matter. What it means is that Black lives are under attack and they need to matter to society. There is a crisis of unarmed Black people being killed by police for no reason and it has to stop. It is a crisis that has needed attention for years and the death of George Floyd coupled with COVID-19 has catapulted it into the forefront of the American consciousness.

Even people who don’t listen to K-Pop got in on the fun.

Honestly, it is a remarkable thing to see. Twitter users coming together for a common goal of silencing what was being called a racist mobilization on Twitter.

People loved to see it all happen.

Anything that can bring people together is something we should celebrate. The world is fighting to protect the lives of one community that has been over-policed and disproportionately attacked by police. The movement has grown to now include more people both online and offline.

Maybe it is the isolation, but people are very grateful for this moment in social media history.

Black Lives Matter organizers are giving it everything they have. They are fighting to keep people organized in the fight against racial injustice at the hands of police officers. It seems they have support and backup from all sides.

READ: Meet the Korean-Mexican Hearthrob Topping The K-Pop Charts

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