She's not rocking it Gangnam Style yet, but Wellington singer Emily Mwila has a chance to be the New Zealand face of K-pop.
Mwila is one of 50 non-Korean individuals and groups chosen from around the world to compete for a top spot in the 2013 K-Pop World Festival.
The 22-year-old Victoria University student was chosen by the Korean embassy in Wellington and is one of two entrants representing New Zealand in the international competition which celebrates Korean pop music. Dance duo The Twinz are also in the running.
Mwila, a classically trained singer, said the chance to go to South Korea was the motivation for her entry.
"I'm not a huge K-pop fan by itself, but I really love Korean culture. Two years ago I went to Korea for the first time, and went again last year and began to fall in love with Korean culture, their generosity, their amazing food."
Mwila's mother is a New Zealander and her father is Zambian. She studies German, Asian Studies and Japanese at Victoria.
For her entry, she chose a well-known Korean song about achieving one's dreams, and said that although it was challenging to learn the song in Korean, she was starting to get a decent grasp of the language now.
Between now and September 14, she has to get enough online support through her YouTube video and K-Pop World Festival profile to get her into the top 15 and earn a place at the finale in Changwon City, South Korea, on October 20.
WHAT IS K-POP?
K-pop is short for Korean pop music – dance-pop, pop ballad, electronic, rock, hip-hop or R&B. The genre has been gathering obsessed fans since the mid-1990s in South Korea, but after rapper Psy released his song Gangnam Style last year, the world has taken notice too.
Psy's video, which includes his signature "invisible horse dance", has been viewed more than 1.75 billion times on YouTube, and prompted a spree of parody clips. Gangnam Style refers to a lifestyle associated with Seoul's trendy Gangnam district.
- © Fairfax NZ News