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Publication Date : 21-01-2013
Eat Your Kimchi is more than just a website on the Korean pop scene
The past few months have been a whirlwind for Canadian couple Simon and Martina, the masterminds behind popular entertainment website Eat Your Kimchi.
The two not only made the move from Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, to Seoul, but decided to register Eat Your Kimchi as a company in Korea and opened their own studio in Hongdae.
“Since the fundraiser to what we’re doing now, everything has changed so dramatically for us. If you had asked me back in September what we would be doing, I wouldn’t even have guessed we’d be doing this now,” Simon said.
The couple saved up US$100,000 to get their D-8 investor visas, but needed more funds to purchase and build their studio. So they decided to try crowdfunding and looked to their fans to help.
“We didn’t expect it to be successful at all. We thought we could raise $3,000-$4,000. That’s it,” Martina said. “So we thought, ‘Okay, let’s try this fundraiser. Let’s see what happens. It won’t hurt to just try and see.’
“And so, when the fundraiser became successful, everything kicked into high gear very fast.”
The fundraiser ran from mid-September until late October or early November. The two had set the goal of $40,000 and ended up raising more than $100,000 to put towards the studio. They created a blog devoted solely to showing those who donated where every dollar goes and making the process as transparent as possible.
The couple even devoted an entire wall to the names of the “Nasties”, their fan club, who donated money. They said the studio is not theirs; it was bought for them by their fans.
“We just sobbed like sissy, sissy babies,” said Simon.
“We cried and we took a picture of us crying and posted it to tell people we were crying,” Martina added.
But the couple says that people who don’t regularly watch their videos often overlook the fact that they are about more than just K-pop. While they do two K-pop segments a week out of six, they also have videos introducing people to Korean food and attractions in the country, and talk candidly about living in the country as foreigners.
What you see is real life. The couple is just as effervescent and silly in person as they are on the videos they make, which have attracted millions of viewers from around the world.
And they work hard for it. An average day can start around 11am and finish around 4am - not to mention they rarely take a day off. Music Monday segments alone can take up to 20 hours to put together. They’ve invested their own money into making Eat Your Kimchi successful, buying their own equipment and upgrading their website.
Still, from time to time, they face negative reactions.
“We’ve discovered that the big problem is, people who don’t actually follow us, who don’t watch our videos diligently, who are just popping in once in a while, they all say the same thing: ‘Oh, they’re making money off of K-pop.’ No one ever says, ‘Oh, they’re making money off of working really hard,’” Martina said.
“So it’s like no one ever remembers all the other stuff we do. And all of that takes a lot of time, and all of the equipment we bought out of our own pocket and all the editing we did on our own. And all the wigs and the props. We really just enjoy making these videos. But when people think about us, they think, ‘Oh, it’s the K-pop couple.’”
They said they even faced backlash from crowdfunding for their studio.
“So we put all this money into it, and people are like, ‘They just blog about K-pop and they ask people, their teenage audience, for money, and how could you do that?’ And, crowdfunding is a really popular thing that people do nowadays,” Martina said.
“And the crowdfunding, the thing that we offered, we showed people exactly what we were doing with the money. We taped all the procedures, we have an Eat Your Kimchi Tumblr for the studio, specifically, we show the cost and the contracts.”
But the couple said they are happy to be in the new studio and they are inspired by it. They have a space to film interviews with music artists and even a soundproof cave with glow-in-the-dark stars for when anyone is overworked and needs a break.
They also have big plans for the future, one of which is to help promote indie artists in Korea. On Sundays they do an indie segment, introducing their international audience to up-and-coming indie artists in Korea.
“We really want to support that scene, because we find that Korean indie bands, they don’t seem to know how to advertise themselves,” said Martina.
“We just want to promote indie music a lot more than they do themselves,” added Simon.
They are hoping to bring in a lot of indie bands for interviews, put positive pressure on them to open up YouTube accounts and keep up Facebook pages, and eventually, have bands record in their studio.
“We want to start spreading them internationally. We want to have a lot of indie artists coming in here, since we’re in the Hongdae core,” Martina said. “And they’ll come in, and I want fun, quirky interviews.”