17 Nov 2021’New K-pop cultural diplomacy’, Dreamcatcher “Reactions from music officials and bands, it’s fascinating”
T/N: The term “fictional world” in this article refers to the world-building and creation of a fictional universe as it applies to storytelling in music, similar to cinematic universes for films.
[Seoul = Newsis] Reporter Lee Jaehoon = “I can’t believe they haven’t gotten a first win. World, look at them, look at what you’re missing out on!”
The K-pop girl group ‘Dreamcatcher’s a team that’s more popular internationally than domestically. You can tell by looking at the YouTube video comments of their representative song, “BEcause”. Foreign languages such as English are more popular than Korean.
They broke away from the common sexy and innocent girl groups early on. Utilizing a unique fictional world like a dystopia, they’ve presented a dance with a clear narrative in their hardcore music that resembles rock metal. Many claim that they are a “K-pop girl group of the future”.
This is why Dreamcatcher stood next to Kyuhyun of the group Super Junior and A.C.E during Indonesia Week of “2021 Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange Mokkoji Korea” (Mokkoji Korea), which took place online on the 8th until the 14th.
“Mokkoji Korea” is a program that actively spreads and promotes Korean life culture to Hallyu fans all over the world. It is receiving praise from the industry for its support of cultural exchanges with other countries and Hallyu marketing in related industries.
Last year, through the establishment and operation of a Korean life culture platform, it garnered a total of 9.6 million webpage views with 2 million visitors (international visitors making up 94%) from 156 different countries. The 15 Mokkoji lives that took place were viewed 2,889,077 times. This is thanks to the help from the “diplomatic mission” and “K-culture messengers” of featuring idol groups.
This time, Dreamcatcher conducted a real-time live broadcast with the topic of Korea’s camping culture. They took the time to introduce Korean snacks such as bungeo-ppang and hotteok.
On the 14th at Dongdaemun’s Vspace in Seoul, we met Dreamcatcher’s leader JiU who expressed her satisfaction and said, “The fact that we get to introduce Korean culture and communicate with our international fans is something to be thankful for”.
All the members enjoy eating Korean snacks. JiU said, “Since yakgwa is in the shape of a flower with petals, I eat [each petal] one by one”. SuA said contently, “Snacks like bungeo-ppang and hotteok come in pre-prepared meals nowadays, it’s nice and convenient”.
They had a meaningful time in which they were able to learn about Indonesian culture as well. SuA nodded, saying, “We learned that Indonesian camping culture has a lot of greenery, and [people camp] in places with more nature than cities.”
Dreamcatcher has grown by facing many ups and downs. They were reorganized after the debut of the girl group “Minx” in 2014. They recruited new members in addition to the existing ones, and they formed a team once again to become the Dreamcatcher of today.
Dreamcatcher has hardcore fans due to their clear concept, which is reminiscent of a game. Just like their group name, derived from the Native American spiritual object that is meant to chase away nightmares, they have a dark image.
T/N: The reporter notes that the spelling of the object in Korean is 드림캐처 (deu-rim-kae-cheo), but the group’s name is 드림캐쳐 (deu-rim-kae-chyeo).
Good K-pop idols aim for recognition and not personal taste. Dreamcatcher’s unique concept is not a means to pull in fans, but it is a place for solidarity with people in a world that is lonely, and at times even painful. After first debuting in 2017, this is how international fans have come to relate to Dreamcatcher, as they have toured many places such as South America and Europe. The size of their concert venues gradually increased, and before COVID-19, all of their venues on their European tour had more than 1000 seats.
Their 2019 performance in Belgium held with the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE) drew an audience of 4000. Choi Yuri, leader of the KOFICE exchange business team, said, “I was shocked to see enthusiastic fans not only from Belgium but all over Europe, who came to the performance”.
In addition, Dreamcatcher will be one of the performers next June for one of the world’s biggest music festivals, “Primavera Sound” in Spain. It is a music festival started in 2001 that is representative of Spain, and it has a big reputation for its unexpected and progressive line-up. This time, the line-up consists of prominent artists such as Massive Attack, The Strokes, and Dua Lipa. Dreamcatcher is the only K-pop idol to be invited.
Gahyeon said, “A long time ago, we once rented the first floor of a restaurant in Seoul in order to shoot our album jacket. The restaurant on the second floor was still operating, and it was fascinating when there were more foreign customers than Koreans who recognized us.
JiU expressed her surprise, saying, “There’s a lot of English comment on our content. We’re on the rise internationally, and it feels like a dream to be able to perform at Primavera Sound”.
More than anything, Dreamcatcher is receiving positive reviews from international music officials. Dami said excitedly, “It’s fascinating how professionals involved in music and band musicians are reacting so strongly. Usually, you’d think that rock music is ‘music that’s far’ from what idols do, but nowadays there are band music programs and more opportunities to get into [rock music], so I think more people are listening”.
Dreamcatcher’s fanclub is “InSomnia”, meaning a lack of sleep. The place that the members want to go to the most is Northern Europe. They are gaining fans in the region, famous for the frequent midnight sun phenomenon often causes insomnia. Northern Europe is also a “hardcore music powerhouse” with many metalheads.
Since the members want to visit a variety of countries, they are taking various foreign language classes, including English. Yoohyeon, who especially has a great interest in foreign languages, has recently started learning Spanish.
Dreamatcher is also interested in social issues. Their representative song “Scream” is based off the motif of “witch hunting”, which is prevalent in not only medieval but also modern times in the form of baseless rumors and malicious comments that are widespread on the Internet. The Dreamcatcher members have witnessed those who make reckless comments while they communicate online. Siyeon once said in a cool manner, “Just because you have a hole under your nose doesn’t mean it’s a mouth”. After this, she was picked as one of the “girl crushes” among K-pop fans.
T/N: The phrase “just because you have a hole under your nose doesn’t mean it’s a mouth” is used to tell people to be careful of what they say.
Yoohyeon is interested in environmental issues such as recent global warming. She said, “I heard that there’s a lot of plastic being found on the sand of beaches. It’s such a shame like things like that happen, and I want for us to do what we can in saving the environment”.
One of the reasons why Dreamcatcher has such a strong sense of individuality is because all seven members have different personalities, preferences, and perspectives on life. They do not even have any members with the same MBTI types. SuA (ENTJ), Gahyeon (ISTP), JiU (ENFP), Dami (ISFJ), Siyeon (ENTP), Yoohyeon (ENFJ), and Handong (ISFP) boasted their solid teamwork.
The team itself has united through their unique concept, and it has become a reliable foundation for the members. Thanks to it, all of them were each able to grow as human beings and develop technically.
The once unconfident and very shy Dami expressed her satisfaction, saying, “I feel much more relieved as I perform. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence”. Handong, who put in a lot of effort in their early days since her vocal tone did not suit their rock sound, said contently, “I gained strength in my voice by putting in effort to change the way I sing”.
Dreamcatcher is preparing even more concepts. The members known as the “fairies of dreams” have only expressed nightmares so far. JiU hopes, “We also want to tell the stories of various dreams, such as prosperous dreams or prenatal dreams. We also want to enter the domestic music chart”.
Siyeon said, “I’m happy if more people relate to the Korean we sing to”, and SuA added, “I hope the members become more individually recognized”. Gahyeon added, “We’ve gone on many tours and got nominated for first place many times, but we still haven’t hit the top. I want to hit the top”.
What evil energy does Dreamcatcher, who filters out nightmares and only makes us dream good dreams just like their group name, want to defeat the most at the moment? COVID-19. “I want COVID-19 to be over as soon as possible so we can communicate with our fans as much as we want”.
Translation by 7-Dreamers jiulily
Please do not take translation without credit