Bringing the K-pop fandom together through a K-pop-up Market

Mimyu, a K-pop dance group based in Edmonton performed at the Genesis Centre for the K-pop-up market on June 10, 2023. Mimyu performed dance covers from popular K-pop groups such as IVE, ATEEZ, and NEWJEANS. (Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)

Inside the Genesis Centre is a space dedicated to one of the biggest communities in the world, the Korean popular music — better known as the K-pop fandom.

Enthusiasm, big smiles, and loud catchy music will welcome you as soon you enter one of the most anticipated K-pop events in Calgary, the K-pop-up Market.

Inside the event are stalls of vendors selling K-pop merchandise such as albums, photocards, light sticks, stickers, and posters. Conversations of people talking about their favourite groups, concerts, and shows can also be heard across the room.

An attendee at the K-pop-up market is checking a stall with Anime and K-pop-inspired keychains, prints, and stickers. (Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)

K-pop fans from around Calgary gathered at the Genesis Centre to connect with fellow community members, share their passion for Korean pop music, and immerse themselves in the K-pop culture.

One fan, Anna Ta, came to trade in some of her collection of photo cards of groups Seventeen and Enhyphen.

“I just want to have fun too,” Ta said.

Photo cards are selfies of K-pop artists that usually come as a freebie in a K-pop album. To most, photo cards are a prized possession — some even turn them into a hobby, such as trading.

Trading is a common lingo in the K-pop community used to refer to K-pop fans swapping photo cards with each other.

Anna Ta, a K-pop fan, holds her scrapbook full of photo cards. Ta expressed her admiration for Seventeen and Enhyphen K-pop groups and came to the event to trade some of her cards. (Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)

Besides the market, a spot was reserved for the most anticipated part of the event, games and performances for K-pop fans.

“Our dance cover from Edmonton is going to come, their name is Mimyu Dance. They’re going to come and do a panel,”  said Jeannie Kha, the event coordinator and vendor.

The group delivered dance covers of popular K-pop songs, such as Halazia by ATEEZ and Hype Boy by NEW JEANS and hosted the game portion of the event.

Fans participated in popular Korean games such as Cham, Cham, Cham, and random K-pop dance challenge, all with prizes to win.

But behind all the fun, is a story of two passionate K-pop fans who longed to have events for their community.

Besides Kha, another fellow vendor, Morgan Sawchuk, planned and initiated the event.

“I’ve been doing K-pop events since 2018,” said Sawchuk.

The two met through a birthday event that Sawchuk posted.

“I asked her, ‘Do you mind if I come over vendor for you?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ And then that’s how all this happened,” said Kha.

The two started the Market last year and aspire to greater heights.

“We do want to expand larger,” said Kha.

Kha envisions something bigger than just an event.

“In Saskatoon, they have an actual festival with some celebrities coming. I think our goal is something like that.” To the two, this K-pop-up event is just baby steps toward providing activities and a sense of belonging to the K-pop fan community.

“That’s the dream,” Sawchuk said. And we’re working towards it.”

Mimyu performed and hosted the games portion of the event.(Photo by Joanna Mendoza/The Press)
About Joanna Mendoza 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Joanna Mendoza is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.