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[ALUMNI INTERVIEW] Meet the K-Pop Star-maker Hyun Kyu Park – Journalism and Communication Alumnus

Meet the K-Pop Star-maker Hyun Kyu Park
Journalism and Communication Alumnus

Regardless of where your understanding of Korean entertainment culture comes from – be it dramas like "Dae Jang Geum" and "Autumn in My Heart", or more recent music groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, there is no denying that the K-Pop (Korean pop music) phenomenon has swept through Hong Kong as well as the global stage. Korean alumnus Hyun Kyu Park (19/WYS/Journalism and Communication) was born in Canada, raised in the United States and moved to Korea at the age of 10, before coming to Hong Kong to study in 2013. His multinational life experiences have given him an international perspective. By witnessing the formation of the “Korean craze" in Hong Kong, he realised his career direction and devoted himself to marketing in the Korean pop music industry, carving out a niche in the K-Pop scene.

After staying in Hong Kong for work for a year, Eric returned to Korea in 2020 and devoted himself to the K-Pop music industry.

Drawn to Study in Hong Kong by the School of Journalism and Communication’s Reputation
As Korean students face a high-pressure learning environment, many of them opt to study abroad. When Hyun Kyu Park (Eric) was studying in high school in South Korea, there was a wave of interest in China and Hong Kong, which sparked his curiosity in this tiny city. "Although I had never set foot in Hong Kong, I knew it was well-known for its film industry. Being a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, English is widely spoken there. The proximity to Korea also makes it an ideal place for me to study. I searched for information about universities in Hong Kong online, and was attracted by The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s geographical environment and its renowned School of Journalism and Communication. I enjoy interacting with people, and have a strong grasp of English. By enrolling in the School, I hoped to strengthen my skills in storytelling. I have always been interested in the music industry and film production. I also want to understand the public broadcasting system in Hong Kong, and the differences in the practices of journalists compared to Korea, etc."

Being among the second cohort of students in the Wu Yee Sun College, Eric enjoyed the new facilities in the dormitories and found CUHK’s beautiful campus environment to be therapeutic. His Korean classmate Brian became his buddy, while Professor Sora Kim of the School of Journalism and Communication, who also comes from Korea, also proactively offered her assistance. He was also touched by other classmates’ friendly attitude: “The campus is so big that I often get lost. When I ask for directions, many classmates would guide me to my destination. Furthermore, as many assignments focused on Hong Kong topics, they would help me to understand the background."

A self-described nerd, Eric suggests students who are interested in studying in Hong Kong making more friends and explore the wonderful things in Hong Kong. "During my studies at CUHK, I have met Japanese and Spanish exchange students and kept in touch until now. I regret staying on campus so much that I did not fully experience the diverse and vibrant aspects of Hong Kong. My understanding of this city is still shallow."

Eric has enjoyed his campus life in CUHK, and has volunteered as photographer for student activities.

Applicable Knowledge from CUHK
After his graduation, Eric stayed in Hong Kong a year to work in the finance industry, which had little to do with journalism and communication. He explained that it was a prevailing trend: "As the city is a global financial hub, many international students typically began working here in the finance industry. But I soon realised that this wasn’t the right choice for me. My passion is in the music industry, and Korea seemed like the best choice." This decision was influenced by the growing wave of popularity in Korean pop culture that he witnessed in Hong Kong. When he first arrived in Hong Kong in 2013, K-Pop had not yet gained popularity, and there were not many Korean restaurants. He returned to Korea for military service in 2015; but by the time he returned to Hong Kong in 2017 to continue his studies, the situation had changed drastically. "The so-called ‘Korean street’ in Tsim Sha Tsui is bustling, and K-Pop had captured the market. The changes truly surprised me and sparked my interest in promoting K-Pop internationally,” he says.

In 2020, Eric returned to Korea and joined Universal Music Group, where he currently serves as an assistant manager in the local music A&R (Artist and Repertoire) with responsibilities going far beyond marketing. "We have different types of artists. When we produce new songs, we also plan and shoot music videos. I am involved in wide-ranging aspects, including discovering new artists and songwriters, producing music, shooting music videos, promoting new albums to organising concerts. I also collaborate frequently with counterparts in the company's branches worldwide, and need to travel extensively for work. The knowledge I gained at CUHK has been helpful, including communication skills, video production, writing press releases, and planning PR activities."

Eric has extensive responsibilities, including following through the production of album covers for artists.

According to Eric, for K-Pop to tap into the global entertainment market, the name of the groups or song titles are mainly in English, while some group members are fluent in English. Songs are also often released both in Korean and English versions. A recent example is the single "Cupid" by Korean girl group FIFTY FIFTY, which gained popularity in the beginning of 2023. “This song gathered momentum swiftly and reached the Billboard HOT 100. Its rapid global fame was driven in part by the Southeast Asian market. As a result, Korean music companies are allocating significant resources to explore the Southeast Asian market.”

Looking to the future, Eric hopes to work together with industry peers to sustain the peak of K-Pop's momentum as much as possible. He also dreams of establishing an independent music label or becoming a K-Pop marketing specialist in the American market.

Eric (right) is often involved in K-Pop music concerts.

Published on CU Alumni Magazine Issue 116 by Alumni Affairs Office 2023

Read online: CU Alumni Magazine Issue No. 116 (Chinese Version Only)
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