The subzero temperatures on Thursday evening in Times Square didn’t keep people from standing for hours to see one of Korea’s hottest boy bands. In fact, some eager fans (affectionately known as “KissMes”) showed up as early as midnight to grab a coveted close-up view of the rising K-Pop band U-KISS. The band’s name is an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International (idol) Super Star, and they definitely lived up to their name as they spoke to their fans in Korean and English and performed with perfectly synchronized dance moves.
The “ubiquitous” part of their name is what truly distinguishes U-KISS from other K-Pop groups. Most of the members are able to speak other languages and have lived in multiple countries. One member, AJ, recently enrolled in Columbia University and has been covered in the New York Post and Good Morning America for his astonishing effort to lead a double-life as a college student by day and a musician at night.
The six-member boy band, Soohyeon, Kiseop, Eli, AJ, Hoon and Kevin, appealed to the mostly female crowd by blowing kisses and saying “saranghaeyo” (which means “I love you” in Korean). During a Q&A session where fans were asked to submit questions to the members via sticky notes, the audience was able to see a more personal side as they opened up about their tour thus far in America. Soohyun, the leader of the band, mentioned that Korean fans were like their family, while American fans were like their wives, which caused the audience to roar with excitement.
The highlight of the evening came when one lucky fan won the chance to go on stage and meet the band. The group serenaded her with “Mysterious Lady” and hugged her while she nervously sat in the middle of the stage. She had won via a contest prior to the concert and Eli, whom she chose as her favorite, said he had watched all her YouTube videos about the group.
They performed hits like “DoraDora” and “Without You” as well as more electronic songs like “Believe” and “Neverland.” The audience cheered “encore” and the group ended with their first big hit “Man Man Ha ni.” The members also went into the crowd and shook hands and gave hugs to the audience.
Kevin, who was born in the states, gave a very heartfelt speech that resulted in tears. He was grateful for being able to come back to the U.S. on their own tour nearly six years after their debut. The members each gave a few words and continued to thank the “KissMes” for their support. In the end, it was evident that although the group had a rough start with members coming and going, they were determined to gain a foothold within the larger K-Pop movement with their current members.
The tour continued on to San Francisco, with a finale in Los Angeles. You can also catch U-KISS featured on Fuse TV’s “Fuse Loves Seoul: From K-Pop to Hip-Hop” a week-long special on the rise of K-Pop.