YouTubers build a gateway to K-pop in Jordan

YouTubers Bashar Al-Borini and Joe Safieh during a skit on Korean K-pop.
YouTubers Bashar Al-Borini and Joe Safieh during a skit on Korean K-pop. The two Youtubers have found a large following interested in K-pop in Jordan and the Middle East. (Photos: Bashar Al-Borini and Joe Safieh)
AMMAN — To dedicated Jordanian fans, K-pop - short for Korean popular music - is a way of life, not just a genre.

Bands such as BTS, Blackpink, EXO, and Big Bang have become popular in the Middle East, creating a fan-base measured in hundreds of thousands. These fans have formed a “K-pop community” in which they share Korean songs, use some Korean words in their daily lives, and incorporate Korean culture into their daily lives. اضافة اعلان

YouTubers Bashar Al-Borini and Joe Safieh, who are also recognized as “the ambassadors of South Korean culture in Jordan,” decided years ago to serve as a gateway into Korean culture and entertainment for the Middle East. Their passion for K-pop, K-drama, and K-culture in general fueled their desire to start a YouTube channel called “Mshaheer Kpop”, which would act as the first channel in the Middle East focused on sharing Korean entertainment news and celebrity topics. The two creators quickly developed a fan base of 725,000 subscribers from all around the Middle East who share their same interest.

“At first we went crazy for the music, but later found ourselves digging deeper and deeper into Korean culture, and soon discovered that it is remarkably similar to our own,” Borini told Jordan News in an interview. “This may not make any sense at first, but you soon realize that they share the same love for families, respecting the elderly, and projecting a respectful and clean picture to other societies.”

They also found it very convenient that K-pop songs are “conservative” whether in the lyrics or beat of the song.

“What truly distinguishes K-pop songs is that they are appropriate for people of all ages. Unlike many songs that are spreading in our society that contain objectionable lyrics, K-pop continues to deliver upbeat songs that are fun while also containing meaningful lyrics,” Safieh told Jordan News.

As a producer, Borini was also attracted to Korean bands’ exceptional production skills. They are incredibly “intelligent,” he believes, when it comes to composing, arranging, and even directing music videos. Koreans are often “recruited” at an early age to prepare them fully before entering the world of entertainment, whether they are actors, musicians, or public figures.

Korean K-pop stars are aware of the strong bonds fans have to their favorite bands,  “which is why they were the first to select a nickname for their fandoms based on the bands they love, such as calling band fans like BTS ‘ARMY’ and Exo ‘EXO-L,’” Borini said.

K-pop has recently made its way into the Western world, with popular groups collaborating with well-known musicians such as Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Halsey. According to the YouTubers, this just demonstrates how quickly K-pop is expanding and spreading globally.

In their channel, they also discuss how Korean stars use their popularity to promote their local products, foods, and culture to other countries around the world, and how they continue to reflect their love for their heritage by never letting go of their traditions and origins no matter how popular they become or how involved they are in the Western world.

They also cover everything you need to know about K-drama. According to Borini, what distinguishes this type of drama is that it has “short episodes” and rarely exhausts the series with too many episodes. It also serves “light content” that is never too dramatic or has a negative impact on the audience’s mood. Although these dramas range from melodrama to comedy to action to historical series, they all contain pleasant aesthetics and scripts that leave the viewer in a good mood after finishing an episode.

After their YouTube channel gained popularity due to its unique content, the YouTubers were invited by one of Korea’s major corporations to stay in Gangnam for two weeks and explore Korea and its culture. This experience only fueled their enthusiasm for the country, its food, and its technological advancements.

“We felt as though we had arrived on another planet, or jumped into a time machine that transported us 10 years forward. We were astounded by how courteous the people were and how interested they were in Arabs and Arab culture. When we mentioned our roots to anyone we encountered, there was an overwhelming surge of excitement and curiosity in learning everything they could about our backgrounds and language,” Safieh said.

The YouTubers even interviewed Korean influencers who present their content in Arabic and who were very fond of the language. They also met Koreans on their plane back to Jordan heading to government-funded stays in Jordan to learn Arabic and explore the culture. They were also informed that Korea is looking to establish a center in Jordan to teach the Korean language to Jordanians in order to improve ties with Middle Eastern countries.

“Although many people are unaware of how famous K-pop is in Jordan, we know that from our fans. We once proposed to Prime Cinema that they show BTS’ Netflix documentary Burn the Stage, but they were extremely hesitant of the idea, claiming that it would not sell any tickets. They later decided to screen it only once on a particular day, and after seeing the massive crowds, they eventually believed us and properly screened the movie,” Borini added.

Read more national features