When Momoland and T1419 visited Puerto Rico for the first time in July, the K-pop groups networked with Latin artists, engaged with Spanish-language press and walked the red carpet at the 2022 Premios Juventud. During the awards show, Momoland presented a televised award to CNCO alongside Puerto Rican artist Guaynaa.
The blitz was a natural next step for the two Korean acts: Months prior, they not only visited Mexico for a promo tour but also began exploring the Latin music space with collaborations and covers. In January, Momoland (formed by MLD Entertainment through a reality show in 2016) kicked off the year with its bilingual Natti Natasha team-up, “Yummy Yummy Love.” Soon after, T1419, which debuted at the 2020 installment of the annual Korean game exhibition G-Star, surprised fans with a cover of Daddy Yankee’s “Campeón” that showcased the members’ impeccable Spanish-language singing and rapping skills. The nine-member boy band later released a Latin urban song, “When the Sun Goes Down,” co-written with Latin composers Daniel González Sobrino and Manu Manzo.
“It’s an honor that fans in Latin America listen to our music in our language, but I feel that we need to get closer to them by tapping into their local music and the language,” says Tim Kim, manager of Momoland and T1419. “I tell my clients to focus on Latin America because it’s such an important market that has sometimes been overlooked by K-pop.” Kim says much of that has to do with the distance spanning Latin America and Korea — it often requires over 24 hours to travel between them — but technology is helping to quickly bridge that gap. And now, he wants his artists to take full advantage.
In 2020, Kim — a Korean American who founded the 360-immersive K-pop entertainment company KAMP Global — began working with Miami-based public relations firm Nevarez Communications (Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, Carlos Vives) to build an expansion strategy for his clients in Latin America. The next, and arguably biggest, step for his company is producing a two-day K-pop festival in Los Angeles in October, with a lineup including Monsta X and Super Junior. Kim’s goal, he says, is to build the “Coachella of K-pop” and grow the event globally.
“The Latin market is huge, reggaetón is huge, and obviously K-pop has been popular in Latin America, but this is only the start,” says Kim. “We want to continue releasing music in Spanish — more covers, more Latin collaborations. Post-COVID-19, a lot of doors have opened, and we value this market for giving us love.”