Sold-out K-Pop concert tickets. The rise of K-Dramas. The virality of Gangnam Style, Nobody, and Bboom Boom. The popularity of groups such as BTS and EXO all over the world. These are just some of the many highlights of Korean culture in the recent years.
That popularity of Korean culture manifested itself further during the finals of the 2018 Pinky K-Pop Star, held on July 22. Ten teams for the Performance Category and ten teams for the Vocal Category battled it out at Samsung Hall, SM Aura for a chance to represent the country in the 2018 K-Pop World Festival. For these hopefuls, this is the chance to fly to South Korea—specifically in Changwon—to compete against fellow fans from around the world in order to show their love for their favorite groups.
A Celebration of Korea and the Philippines
If anything, however, the final leg of 2018 Pinoy K-Pop Star is hardly a competition, says Philippine Korean Cultural Center Director Lee Jin Cheol. In fact, the event in general feels more like a celebration between Korean and Filipino cultures.
Indeed, this statement could be felt throughout Samsung Hall as friends, family, and fans cheer for the 20 teams covering songs of groups such as BTS, Red Velvet, MOMOLAND, and more. There are also special performances by Pinoy K-Pop Star alumni, who prove they still got the moves and the vocals to wow today’s crowd.
The judges definitely had a hard time deciding who would represent the country in Changwon. After all, whether it is through song or dance, all the finalists did their best and showed their charms to the everyone present at Samsung Hall.
It’s not easy being a K-Pop cover group, especially if the idol group being covered is known for knife-like choreography and synchronization. The finalists in the Performance Category, however, showed that they could keep up with the intense dance moves that their idols could do. And apart from the top three groups, other finalists charmed the audience. Red Velvet cover group CLASS B added flair to their Red Flavor performance with a costume change after their dance break; meanwhile, all-female group FATALdanced BTS’ Fake Love, causing the crowd to chant along.
On the other hand, finalists from the Vocal Category brought not only their vocal game but also certain gimmicks. Christelle Tolisora brought along backup dancers to her performance of Pentagon’s SHINE; Dennis Mangubat sent everyone back to their “Descendants of the Sun” feels with K.Will’s Talk Love; and Merry Mia Sinaguinan definitely got everyone’s attention with her costume and her energetic performance to UNNIES’ Shut Up.
Of course, there were special performances in between the competition. Last year’s winner of the Performance Category, Volo Pro Veritas, started the show with a BTS dance medley.
Just as the audience catches its breath after the Performance Category, idol group SB19 performed two songs from their upcoming mini-album. With all-Filipino members who trained under a Korean management system for three years, SB19 is set to catch the eye of K-Pop and OPM fans alike. In fact, they already have a group of fans cheering them on at Samsung Hall!
Other Pinoy K-Pop Star alumni had their share of the spotlight as well. Event host Vincent Igno amazed everyone not only with his witty remarks but also with his dance moves. It’s been five years since he was in the competition, and he looked like he could still be a shoo-in for next year’s finals.
And then there’s Val John, the 2015 first runner-up in the Vocal Category, who collaborated with two cover groups for his performance, which includes one of his songs performed in English and a bit of Korean.
The Moment of Reckoning
Despite the display of hard work and talent from all finalists, only one team from each category were crowned grand champions.
Cosmic Girls cover group Mix’in won from the Performance Category, showing synchronization despite having 12 members—the most number of people among all cover groups in attendance.
Meanwhile, Kaiju X (MONSTA X cover group) and (K)-IDLE ((G)I-DLE cover group) took home the first runner-up and second runner-up titles for the Performance Category, respectively.
For the Vocal Category, Venisse Sy’s power vocals to Sohyang’s Wind Song gave the judges more than enough reason to crown her the winner.
On the other hand, Sandra Dela Cruz’s high notes to Lee Hi’s Breathe impressed the judges to place her in second, while John Paul Manuel’s soft rendition of My Apology Letter by Kim Yeonwoo placed him in third.
In the end, though, every finalist still came home a winner. Most of them may not be going to Changwon, but they certainly showed their love for their bias group and their passion for K-Pop. And it looks like that passion isn’t going to die down anytime soon.
Were you at 2018 Pinoy K-Pop Star? What was your highlight of the event? Let us know in the comments below.
We would like to thank Korea Cultural Center of the Philippines for inviting us to cover the 2018 Pinoy K-Pop Star finals.
Erratum (7/25/2018): An earlier version named the Red Velvet cover group as NONAGON instead of CLASS B and the BTS all-girl cover group as Great instead of FATAL. These have been since corrected.