MIK festival in London: a mix of genres celebrated Korean music

The MIK festival landed in London on the last week-end of July for its first edition.

With a first day that focused on various K-Pop artist and a second day dedicated to K-Hip-Hop, it celebrated the diversity of Korean Music.

With the explosion of K-Pop and after two years of worldwide pandemic, it seems festivals are now rushing to Europe to bring a variety of K-Pop artist. MIK (Made in Korea) is no exception but still managed to set itself from the most recent ones.

First of all, it was the first European open-air festival. Probably quite a challenge considering the heat wave Europe has been experiencing. The festival did well by providing free water points and with the security making sure that fans stay hydrated.

Being open-air, the festival had a specific chill mood that’s hard to find in indoors events and that fits well with summer. Fans were able to sit on the grass while enjoying K-music and ramen, and it almost felt like experiencing a festival in Korea.

The second very distinctive aspect is that MIK wasn’t, exactly, a K-Pop festival. With one day dedicated to K-Pop and one day dedicated to K-Hip-Hop, the festival targeted a large audience. Especially with Hip Hop artists still being sometimes difficult to see in Europe, audiences came from different countries in Europe to celebrate K-Music in Southwark Park.

Day 1 : K-Pop

On Day 1, various K-pop groups and solo acts performed on stage. Unfortuntaly, the girls group BILLIE couldn’t joint due to COVID-19 (several members tested positive). Holland, Cherry Bullet, Golden Child, CHUNG HA, VIVIZ, PENTAGON, SUHO and Red Velvet could luckily perform as planned.

Holland opened the festival with his tracks I’m so Afraid and I’m not Afraid. Both songs pertain to the difficult situation of coming out and managing to overcome the fear. While he may lack media coverage as a K-Pop artist, he’s built his own community of fans who love and support him. He seemed to have a great day performing in front of his fans, as he even went to meet his fans in the crowd after his performance ended. 

Cherry Bullet showed the cute side of K-Pop with cheerful tracks such as Q&A, Love So Sweet and Love in Space. With their very distinctive gun-shaped lightstick, it was easy to spot fans in the audience. Their baby blue, pale pink and white outfits completely displayed their lovely image.

Golden Child helped bring the excitement one step higher when they brought their powerful tracks on stage. With their songs Wannabe, Burn It or DamDaDi, they showed their talent and well-executed choreos. They playfully teased their track Replay, since-then released.

CHUNG HA is one of the most iconic solo female artists. Her participation to MIK made fans happy, and she definitely didn’t disapoint. Her tracks Snapping and Sparkling, for example, were hard to escape when she released them. Despite the audience made of various fandoms, it made no doubt almost everyone knew the songs. She came to London bearing the gift of an unreleased song that should be a part of her next album. After this look into the future, she went back to the past. She ended the performance on her debut track “Why Don’t you know”, making her long-time fans happy.

VIVIZ officially debuted in 2021, but the members aren’t new to the stage since the members debuted under GFRIEND. Self-confident and efficient, they brought the songs Loveade and “Bop Bop” to London. They also didn’t forget about their past group as they performed “Time for the moon night”. The trio, who recently took part in Queendom, proved that new starts are always possible in K-Pop.

PENTAGON were, according to the crowd’s reaction, a very awaited group. Despite a previous Europe tour, it was their first time performing in London and it seems local fans wanted to prove the group that they’re welcome anytime to the UK. From Fellin’ Like to their very popular track Shine, fans sang along with the members. The rock version of Call My Name perfectly brought the first rock touch to the MIK festival.

SUHO dived full into it, performing not just as a solo act but with a band. A rare happening during festival, which shows his will to perfectly express is own musical inspirations. Grey Suit and Hurdle, two of his solo tracks, awed many festival-goers. Far from the idol image of an EXO member, he seems to fit right with the musical past of the country that created The Beatles. Speaking of which, he couldn’t resist covering a little bit of “Let it Be”.

SUHO then introduced the next and last performers, Red Velvet. Just like most of the performers of the day, it was their first time performing in London. For the special occasion, they sang the English version of “Bad Boy”. They also performed Psycho, Peek-a-boo, or Bamboleo. Many fans were seeing the group for the first time ever, and showed a very loud and enthousiast support for the now-veteran girls group.

Day 2 : Hip-Hop

Sunday brought a very different list of artists to London, as it was MIK’s Hip Hop day.

pH-1 seemingly wanted to let the crowd hear a variety of his songs as he went for a medley before performing Malibu or Like Me. He also gave some lucky fans of the Golden Circle signed albums before leaving the stage.

DOK2, together with the producer Puffy Santana, performed Beverly 1lls (Remix) as well as “Don (Jm Remix)”. He covered YGGR by ILLIONAIRE RECORDS. DOK2 also took the opportunity to self-proclaim himself the best rapper of the day.

A statement the next performer of the day, Jessi, didn’,t fully agree with. Jessi made sure to interact with her fans and to chat with them. She performed her major tracks Gucci NUNU NANA and ZOOM. Considering how some of her songs became instant SNS successes, most of the audience knew the tracks and made sure to sing along.

Epik High, who came on stage to the sound of movie soundtracks, performed both old and new tracks. Don’t Hate Me, Face ID and Rosaria proved that they own some timeless tracks that remain references in the Korean Hip-Hop industry. After twenty years on stage, they more than earned the respect and love the crowd showed.

Lee Hi probably was the less “Hip-Hop” artist of the day. Admitting herself to having Soul and R&B influences, she still invited the crowd into her softer universe. Of course, she performed her lively tracks “Red Lipstick” and “Bye”.But songs like Rose, Savior and 1,2,3,4 all brought a quiet and chill feeling to the festival.

Gray ends the quiet moment with medleys and full songs, including Comfortable” from G2,  Dangerous, TMI, “I Don’t Love You or In My Head. The charming artist also made this fans laugh when he received a bra on stage. Instead of showing embarrassment, he just claimed the bra wasn’t big enough for his own body.

Loco then took over the stage and looked very happy to perform in front of the European fans in London. Energetic and cheerful, he tried his best to interact with the international audience. After performing “Party Band + OPPA”, he welcomed Lee Hi and Gray to sing Party for the night. Gray stayed for a few more tracks, showing the good bond between the artists.

That could be defined as one of the “winning points” of the MIK festival. Bringing several Hip-Hop artists from the same company, fans could enjoy collaboration stages.

Jay Park also joined in the fun. After performing solo (but with dancers) on DNA Remix and Need to Know or Me Like Yuh, he also had pH-1, Loco and Gray coming back on stage to end the night in a (shirtless) celebration of K-Hip-Hop.

Conclusion :

Overall, both days of the festival can easily be called a success. The performances, in their diversity, proved each artist’s uniqueness. It also proved that it’s possible to bring together, under the same name, both K-Pop and Hip-Hop acts to an audience that just loves Korean music as a whole.

For a first experience, MIK festival put together an impressive line-up, raising fans’ hopes for a new edition next year.

We’d like to thank MIK festival and Magic Sound K-Pop for having us.

Article by Celine Choquet
Photos by Céline Choquet (Day 1) / Soizic Cistac (pH-1) and Kali (Day 2)

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