To celebrate the 20th year of the Korea Program under Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, a two-day conference was held on campus. EXO’s leader and lead vocalist Suho gave an insightful speech to a jam-packed room at Stanford University last Friday, May 20.
The K-pop superstar was given the opportunity to share his knowledge about the Hallyu wave that is currently dominating the global charts––both music and drama. Being in the K-pop industry for a decade now, Suho shared his personal experiences and used it in his discussion.
The attendees of the conference were surprised to hear the 31-year-old singer deliver his speech in full English. He had been practicing the language shortly after his discharge from mandatory military enlistment.
“Today I am here as a guardian of EXO and K-pop,” the leader shared in his opening remarks. He explained to the attendees that his stage name means guardian. He proceeded in talking about the hundreds of performances he did with his group in 76 cities all over the world. He claims that through these concerts, he could feel the power of the Hallyu wave especially when fans all over the world would sing along to their music.
“We feel the power of the Hallyu wave not only on stage, but in our everyday lives,” he stated.
Suho believes that because of this extra effort to communicate with each other, K-pop is at the center of the Hallyu wave. The sense of belongingness and community to learn from each other is what forms that special bond between the artists and the fans.
“Not just EXO, but all K-pop artists make extra efforts to communicate with their fans continuously. We communicate [through] live video calls with Korean and foreign fans. We try to share stories with our fans all to become a team. These experiences eventually create a strong bond between me and the fans,” he elaborated.
Having debuted in 2012, EXO continues to make waves both in South Korea and abroad. They have revived the physical album selling in South Korea by selling a million copies after more than a decade. EXO received the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Commendation in 2014 and in 2017, they received the Prime Minister’s Commendation.