INTERVIEW: Kevin Woo Talks K-Pop, K-Snacks, and Asian-American Representation

By Tiffany Simms

Whether you know him as “Kevin” from the K-pop boy group U-KISS or as an After School Club host, Kevin Woo has become a household name for fans of K-pop as he has been in the industry since he was just fifteen years old. At that time, he moved from his home in California to Seoul, Korea. Today, he transitions from boy group member and TV host to actor and solo artist. Recently, we caught up with Kevin to talk about his schedule of events, Asian-American representation in media and pop, and more!

This summer, you went to KCON, both LA and New York. So, you’re no stranger to KCON, but this was your first time performing as a solo artist. How was your experience?

The experience was surreal. It was one of the best moments of my life because I never performed at such a big venue before as a solo artist. It’s just great to perform my songs, and be a part of the whole KCON experience because that’s such a rare chance and an honour. 

You just wrapped up your tour with James Lee (former member of Royal Pirates) and FYKE. That’s a really great group of people. Was there a funny moment or favourite memory? 

Definitely, because we’re all good buddies. This whole tour came about because of James … We all knew each other so it just felt like a natural chemistry between us three artists.

Woo shared with us special moments he observed from his time on tour, specifically with Enik. He explained that the FYKE leader was new to K-Pop fan culture, unlike Woo and Lee, and was adapting differently than one might expect.

He [Enik Lin] really talked with them one-on-one. We didn’t really have enough time to do that, but he was just talking about life experiences and messages to the fans while everyone was waiting in line. That was such a humbling experience for me because I am kind of used to that culture, but he hasn’t experienced the K-pop fan culture before. He was just taking all the time of his life, but I really learned from that, and I want to connect with the fans even more … I thought that was a very sweet moment.  

Also, the shows were in your home state of California. Did that give any opportunity to take a break, maybe visit with family and friends? 

Yeah, definitely! When I was in L.A., I got to take time with my friends. They took me out to Universal Studios. That was such a good experience because I never got to do that when I was a little kid. After KCON and the concert, we went to the amusement park and they showed me around, and it kind of gave me a new perspective in just enjoying life because back in Asia it’s hard to connect with friends and just go out. In Asia, it’s harder to go out because you are more noticed, but here, it’s more free. When my friends took me out to the amusement park, I felt like a little kid again and it felt great, so I enjoyed my time back at home. 

Do you have a favourite ride or attraction from one of the parks?

Oh my god, yeah! At Universal Studios ... the Harry Potter Land, I’ve been dying to go there, and I had the time of my life. I put it up on my social media, and my fans were going crazy seeing that I was freaking out over that, too. They were like experiencing that whole experience through me. 

You’ve also been releasing travel vlogs this year, as well as song covers. A lot of K-pop idols have started becoming YouTubers. Do you think you will as well? 

Oh, definitely! I’m like the second-generation of K-pop. We were more mysterious — we didn’t reveal our private lives. 

And, now, today, it’s like a “share everything” expectation because of social media. 

You guys like to be a part of our personal life. I wasn’t used to that at first. It did take me awhile to break down that wall, but now that I’ve started vlogging, I think it’s so easy and great to show a part of my personal life to my fans because it reaches a better engagement. Recently, I started vlogging throughout my travels around Asia and America, and they want to see more of it, so I think I will be doing more of those in the future. My fans can look forward to it! More personal stuff on my channel. 

Recently, you had your U.S. TV debut on Good Day LA. How was that?

Yeah! That was like a dream come true. It was really hard to grasp at first because I didn’t know K-pop was that big. Being a Korean-American, growing up watching American TV, it was very unreal for me to be on that stage and represent Asian-Americans on national television. When I did that stage, I felt very proud for what I did in K-pop, and I feel like K-pop is just growing on such a global scale. It’s a good time to be a part of K-pop right now. 

As you were talking about just now, you ended up moving to Korea for a career in K-pop, but now that you’re making your transition as a solo artist, what direction do you see yourself going towards? What market do you hope to reach?

Right now, I’m sure most of my fans knew me from K-pop … but as an Asian-American, I feel like it was always a dream, a goal of mine, to represent Asians in America. I definitely have a bigger goal, not just in the K-pop realm, but in pop. I hope to be the bridge between the two worlds. 

Do you have a favourite Korean food or snack? If someone is being introduced to Korean food by you, what would you give them?

I don’t know if it’s legit Korean, but I want to recommend Shin Ramyun. That’s like the go-to noodles for every Korean, whether they’re in Korea or abroad. It’s the most basic one, but that’s the one I eat all the time. It’s not that spicy. Anyone should try it out.

Do you have a current favourite song?

I’m really into NCT 127. There’s a song called “Highway to Heaven.” That’s a really good song. I feel like that portrays both pop and K-pop equally in the same genre … I really like that. 

That’s a good choice! I was somewhere the other day and they were playing it on American radio! 

Oh my god. That’s crazy. MONSTA X are blowing up in America right now. Their collab with French Montana, “Who Do You Love?,” that’s a great song! I feel better in K-pop seeing my junior groups—like groups that have debuted before me—do so well in the States. I’m so proud of them. I feel like there’s no limit to K-pop because we’re just expanding more and more in the U.S., and that’s my goal as a solo artist as well. I know that my fans and future audiences will get a glimpse of that in the near future from me.

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Check out the new music video for "Falling" by James Lee and Kevin Woo!

Stay connected with Kevin on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Cover Image: Kevin Woo (Coridel Entertainment)
Written by Tiffany Simms

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