K-Pop bands bring message of unity through music | Inquirer Entertainment

K-Pop bands bring message of unity through music

By: - Reporter
/ 12:40 AM March 11, 2017


BtoB. Photos by Eloisa Lopez

The concert was not due to start until after at least 30 more minutes, but already, the crowd inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena was gleaming blue and green from the glow of the inflatable clapper sticks the fans held aloft.

The decibels were starting to pick up from the alternating clamors for the seven K-Pop acts set to take the stage.


“CNBLUE! CNBLUE!” fans of the pop-rock group shrieked. Not to be outdone, not a few supporters of the boy band SHINee countered with their own chants. But just before things turned into a cheering bout, a nearby “Shawol” (referring to a SHINee fan) turned to the girl on her right and said, rather amusedly, “The night’s theme is unity, right?”


The event was, in fact, titled “One K Global Peace Concert”—a musical component of a civic movement of the same name that rallies for the harmonious reunification of North and South Korea.

The two nations are still technically at war. But by riding the current wave of popularity Korean pop culture enjoys around the world, the Action for Korea United—an assemblage of about 850 Korean nongovernmental organizations, and the Global Peace Foundation Korea—hopes to convey their aspirations of having a “One Korea” to a wider audience.

Suddenly reminded of what the show was all about, the two SHINee fans eventually joined the others in screaming “CNBLUE.”



The recent Manila leg of the “One K” series, which will also make stops in the United States, China and Russia, was opened by B.A.P. and the thrashing beats of its hip-hop and rock-infused dance songs like “Skydive.”

The group is composed of Himchan, Daehyun, Youngjae, Zelo, Yongguk (not in the show), and Jongup, whose powerful dance break in “No Mercy” brought the house down.



Like B.A.P., the boy band B1A4—Jinyoung, Sandeul, CNU, Baro, Gongchan—also had discernible hip-hop influences, but were buried in more bubblegum pop-sounding melodies. In the breezy “Beautiful Target,” the quintet elicited the giggles with their cutesy moves, like the “sprout dance,” which had them raising their arms over their heads—as if handcuffed—and then cheekily swaying their hips.


The members of the night’s sole girl band, AOA or Ace of Angels, did more preening and posing than actual dancing, but nevertheless looked cute and sexy while they were at it.



With their baby-like voices, Choa, Jimin, Yuna, Hyejeong, Mina, Seolhyun and Chanmi cooed to midtempo bops that sounded like something Kylie Minogue would come up with.

Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Changsub, Hyunsik, Peniel, Sungjae and Ilhoon comprised the boy group BtoB, which dished out a set list that mixed rap-sprinkled pop-rock ballads (“Pray”) and funky R&B dance jams (“Beep Beep”).

BtoB'sHyunsik and Eunkwang

BtoB’sHyunsik and Eunkwang

Later on, in a separate segment, BtoB’s Eunkwang and Hyunsik—with Cesar Montano on the guitar—gave a nod to Philippine-Korea ties, with an acoustic performance of Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak.”

CNBLUE, being the sole group to play live musical instruments, instantly set it apart from the rest of the performers.

CNBLUE frontman Jung Yong-hwa

CNBLUE frontman Jung Yong-hwa

Its front man, Jung Yong-hwa, was one of the night’s most proficient vocalists and most charismatic presence. “Long time, no see… Thank you for your screaming, Manila—you are so sweet,” he said, as he roamed the stage and blew kisses to the giddy fans.

One of their standout numbers was “Can’t Stop,” whose infectiously upbeat chorus drew a nice contrast against the tune’s soft, almost whimsical, verses.

Based on its supporters’ ear-splitting cheers alone, there was no contesting that SHINee was the concert’s most awaited act—and for good reason.

Among all the boy groups that held court, this one in particular—Key, Onew, Jonghyun, Taemin and Minho—sang better, and delivered choreography that packed more punch.

And while the men did only a few numbers—including “View,” “1-of-1” and “Everybody”—this appearance was extra special for the Shawols, because it was the first time SHINee performed in Manila with all the members on board.

PSY (center)

PSY (center)

PSY, the unlikely K-Pop star who broke and set a slew of internet records in 2012, did not fit that mold of your typical “idol.” But his frenetic showmanship, humor and quirky steps, coupled with earworms, such as “Gentlemen,” “Napal Baji” and of course, the viral hit “Gangnam Style,” conjured up one zany dance party.

After all the seven acts had delivered their respective sets, they gathered onstage and, staying true to the concert’s theme, sang in unison the “One K” campaign theme, “One Dream, One Korea.”

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Written by acclaimed R&B duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the song was inspired by the  iconic song “We Are the World.” And amid thick confetti, the K-Pop stars walked toward the audience and gave their final bows, perhaps with the hope that more than the music, the fans would also remember the message.


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