By Clifford Agugoesi
The Republic of Korea is fast transforming into a creative economy and all Korean Missions abroad are automatic foot soldiers to help the country achieve this objective. The Korean Popular(K-POP) Dance Competition is living up to its bidding as a veritable vehicle to advance the cordial relations between the Republic of Korea and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the event, which entered the 8th edition this year, proved an opportunity for the Republic of Korea to sell its rich value proposition to Nigeria and her people, especially in the areas of culture and technology.
Leading the army of marketers of the Korean project is the country’s ambassador, the unassuming Lee In-tae, who seems to be very focused in getting his aggressive team to achieve their country’s target, and have struck a rhythm with the most critical segment of the Nigerian population -the youth. If what transpired at the Tolulope Odugbemi Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka, south west, Nigeria, venue of the 8th K-POP Dance Competition, Saturday, July 13, 2019, was anything to go by, then, the chemistry between In-tae and his focus demography in Nigeria, is simply unbelievable. Barely had the envoy introduced himself before his audience than the hall went agog with chants of Lee In-tae(sounded Lee In Tie). Incidentally, the chief host was dressed in a cute blue suit and red tie.
“I am delighted to attend the 2019 K-Pop Dance Competition in Nigeria today” began In-tae. “What a great spirit! It is wonderful to feel the energy here at this great University of Lagos. If I were thirty years younger, I would have joined the competition myself (joke). Like many of you, I share your great love and passion for K-Pop. K-Pop is now increasingly becoming a universal trend. It binds people from all over the world together. It is a force of unity and friendship as you can see from this event.”
His word did not take long to happen as power from the public grid fell and standby generator came to the organizers rescue!
All 10 teams namely Rich Company from Kano Getting Closer (Seventeen), J Race from Jos Idol (BTS), Octopus Dance Zone from Port Harcourt Lullaby (Got 7), S.O.C. from SokotoWe Go Up (NCT Dream), YDance Nation from Lagos (Nuest’W), D’Generals from Port Harcourt ’Bout You(Super Junior D&E), D’Brainy from Port Harcourt, No Air (The BoyZ),Dance X Intl from CalabarPirate King (Ateez), Elite Dance Crew from Lagos My Peace (Stray Kids), and Isaiah 54 from KatsinaAirplane Mode (Noir), surely did not disappoint as they showed grit and raw energy that got the audience entertained. All but J Race were an entirely male crew. Earlier, K-POP Dance instructors Park Yong Hyun and Kim Ah Young whetted the appetite of the audience with their spectacular dance steps and uncommon energy.
Of the total 37 teams across Nigeria, that entered the online preliminary stage of the competition, which took off in April, only 10 teams made it to the grand finale in Lagos. Other than the total prize money of N1million,(US$2,778 thousand) participating teams have a chance to enter the qualifying rounds of the KBS world K-POP festival preliminaries that could see a Nigerian team in Korea in an all expenses paid trip for the World K-POP festival and perhaps win big like some compatriots did in previous similar editions.
Isaiah 54 came third and went home with a cash prize of N200,000(US$556) in addition to an LG XBOOM Speaker(OK55) to each crew member. Director, Korean Cultural Centre, Lagos, made the cash prize presentation to the team. D’Brainy came second and carted away N300,000.00(US$833.3) in addition to LG XBOOM Speaker(OK75) to every crew member. Presentation of the prize was by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Zubairu Muazu. Octopus Dance Zone stole the show by winning the first prize of N500,000.00(US$1,388.89) in addition to LG XBOOM Speaker (OK99). Presentation of this prize was done by Ambassador In-tae. Each member of the crews smiled home also with an ear phone, courtesy of LG Electronics.
UNILAG also got a 55 inches ultra high definition television (LG UHD TV 55).
Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor OluwatoyinTemitayoOgundipe, was represented by the Dean, Students Affairs, Professor AdemolaAdeleke. Prof Adeleke expressed joy that both Korea and Nigeria enjoyed cordial relations saying “Nigerians use Korean products. I use Samsung phones. Welcome to the University of Lagos. Enjoy yourselves.”
Trust In-tae and his smart marketing team. There was an inspirational video message from KPOP stars laced with invitational messages like…Earth creates Korean Technology and of the KPOP host city Changwon: City of Healing, Dynamic City! So, whether your invite says K-POP, Education Fair or Character Fair, it is a matter of semantics, the object is to ingraine Korean culture into you and yours.
K-POP is powered by the Korean Cultural Centre, Nigeria, Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Korean Culture and Information Service, Changwon City, Chang FE, KBS and LG Electronics.
The event was witnessed by the members of the diplomatic, business, media, civil society and academic communities including, but not limited to Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos Professor Oluwatoyin Temitope Ogundipe, represented by the Dean, Students’ Affairs, Professor Ademola Adeleke, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, Chairman of Korean Community, Shin In Chul, Consul-General of the Ghanaian High Commission, James Nyasembi and Consul-General, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Nigeria, Kim In-Taek.
If, as has been expoused, a foreign service delegated responsibility of the ambassador, is to safeguard, protect and promote the image, reputation and interests of the sending State and the basic functions of the diplomatic mission are: representation, negotiation, observation and gathering information, and protection of nationals and interests of his country as well as work for the fundamental development of economic (and trade), cultural and scientific relations, to promote cooperation, and essentially to maintain and strengthen the friendly relations between the two States, then, it could be said that Ambassador In-tae and his team are doing a good job.
-With additional reporting by Kingsley I. Ilechukwu