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Here’s why K-pop groups like Le Sserafim are joining forces with novelists to produce creative concept albums and stories. Photo: AFP

Le Sserafim, IVE work with Korean writers on concept albums, and they aren’t the only ones – expect more K-pop and K-lit collabs

  • Some of the biggest players in K-pop have been working with high-profile Korean novelists as they seek different ways to showcase their talent
  • Last month, girl group Le Sserafim teamed up with novelist Kim Cho-yeop. Fellow girl group IVE have done the same with novelist Chung Se-rang

By Dong Sun-hwa

The K-pop industry is an experimental one, with insiders always looking for some new way to offer more than just music.

Most recently, this has been Korean literature, and some of the biggest players have been collaborating with high-profile novelists.

Last month, rookie K-pop girl group Le Sserafim and its management company Hybe teamed up with Kim Cho-yeop, a novelist known for her bestselling 2021 science fiction Greenhouse at the End of the Earth.
Le Sserafim’s mini album Antifragile hit shelves on October 17. Photo: Instagram/@le_sserafim

Kim wrote a prologue for Crimson Heart, a fictional story that features the five Le Sserafim members. That prologue was made into a booklet and included in the group’s second mini-album, Antifragile, which hit shelves on October 17.

Kim has been collaborating with Hybe – which houses A-list stars like BTS and Tomorrow X Together – since the beginning of this year, creating original stories featuring its artists.

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In August, novelist Chung Se-rang joined forces with girl group IVE for its third single, “After Like”. Its members read some lines written by Chung in a teaser video titled I’ve Summer Film.

The video, which shows off the members’ friendship, has racked up more than 1.7 million views on YouTube.

Chung is the writer behind bestselling books like The School Nurse Files (2015) and From Sisun (2020). The former was made into a six-episode Netflix series in 2020 and it ranked first on Netflix Korea’s top 10 list upon its release.
The School Nurse Files was made into a six-episode Netflix series in 2020. Photo: Netflix

“I accepted the collaboration as I am a fan of IVE and K-pop,” Chung was quoted as saying. “Working together with people in the K-pop industry was a fresh experience for me. I will continue to take on new challenges if I get the opportunity.”

According to Ko Jeong-min, a professor at Hongik University’s graduate school of arts and cultural management in Seoul, the team-up between K-pop and K-literature is a win for both.

“K-pop stars can grab the public’s attention and generate buzz if they join hands with bestselling novelists,” says the professor.

“Even non-fans are likely to think that their albums are worth buying because they feature some literary elements in addition to music. The collaborations can also help singers build a more concrete fictional universe and develop their own stories.

“Having a good story in an album is becoming more crucial these days, as this can help record labels produce other related goods, such as audiobooks.”

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For novelists, a collaboration that leans on the global appeal of K-pop helps raise their profiles and promotes their writing to people who might not have otherwise read their work.

“In this regard, Korean literature can reach a wider audience and seek further growth,” Ko explains. “So it seems collaborations between K-pop and K-literature will be seen more frequently in the days ahead.”

However, Ko says that K-pop singers should not just focus on making fascinating stories. “The quality of their music should be guaranteed first before they work on their stories,” he noted.

“It is also vital to search for a novelist who is the right fit for them and create an engaging story that anyone can understand and enjoy. It will be better if they come up with content that can have a positive influence on teenagers, their major consumers.”

Read the full story at The Korea Times