Seoul music rivals soul for some Latins

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In this May 11, 2013 photo, followers of Korean pop band Big Bang, imitate the band at the Ramon Castilla Park in Lima, Peru. While there’s little hard data, there’s no questioning the fervor of the fans who turn up at Ramon Castilla Park each Saturday and emulate the dances of K-pop bands. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

by Franklin Briceno
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Teenagers throughout Latin America have long looked north for pop music inspiration. Now the East is rising, with a large and enthusiastic cult of fans in some countries following the K-pop music from Korea.

It’s a movement especially strong in Peru and Chile, and it goes far beyond Psy and “Gangnam Style.”

Some 13,000 fans attended an April concert in Lima by the group Super Junior. Another group, Big Bang, drew 14,000 in November. They’ve drawn similar crowds in neighboring Chile.

Hundreds of fans such as Araceli Galan gather each week in a downtown park in Lima to dance to the energetic music. Some dress up as Korean comic book characters.

“I’ve liked K-pop since I was 10,” said Galan, now a 16-year-old student at a local university. “I learned everything from the Internet because here in Peru you don’t find much on radio or television.”

She’s amassed a collection of posters, bracelets, T-shirts and records of her favorite, Kim Hyun Joong, who was met by thousands of fans when he arrived at the airport in Peru’s capital in February.

“Although you won’t believe it, in Peru the K-pop groups are starting to be more popular than Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Demi Lovato,” said Diana Rodriguez, who is capitalizing on the trend by organizing Korean dance contests throughout Peru.

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