Pinoy K-pop world champ marks Lunar New Year on Ireland TV

Vanda Marie Macion Brady

Posted at Feb 04 2022 08:09 PM

Photo from Vanda Marie Macion Brady
Photo from Vanda Marie Macion Brady

Filipino K-pop world champion Sodem Solana launched “Dublin Lunar New Year” with a masterclass at a popular morning TV show “Ireland AM.” 

As COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Ireland, the Ilocos Norte-born Filipino will resume his dance classes this March in Ireland’s capital.

“During the pandemic, people loved K-pop challenges posted by K-pop Idols on TikTok. It has become so popular because of the choreography that is attached to the songs, the fashion, and the beautiful Korean language,” Solana said. 

Solana won the €8,000 grand prize against 6,400 contestants at the 2019 K-pop World Festival in Changwon, South Korea. 

His “Savage Family Dance Crew” was the 2021 K-pop World Festival champion in Ireland. They promote K-pop in the country by performing catchy YouTube videos filmed in the streets of Dublin. 

“Our winning streak at the K-pop World Festival has inspired me to continue promoting K-Pop through our YouTube Channel ‘S Nation Official’ and other social media platforms,” said the two-time winner. 

In 2005, when Solana was 8 years old, he and his two older siblings moved to Dublin to join his mother who is a nurse at St. James’s Hospital and her father who is a worker at the Luas.

He started dancing with a Filipino dance group, “Sining at Galaw,” which promoted Filipino folk dance and other genres and performed in barrio fiestas.

“I joined the 2014 competition but did not win. I continued to train and research then after five years, I decided to do a cover of K-pop idol Jennie Solo at the 2019, which I was very grateful to win the grand prize as I was able to showcase globally that it was acceptable for a man to perform a female song. I’m happy they loved it because it was something new and different,” he quipped.

Solana completed an Acting and Musical Theatre qualification at Liberties College in Dublin. He was invited by the K-pop Society of Trinity College to do weekly K-pop lessons to students of different nationalities.

While he is waiting for his big break in acting, he is focusing on mentoring his 15-member Savage Family Dance Crew and other teams by doing weekly rehearsals for dance covers. 

Apart from dance lessons, he plans to organize events that will help promote K-pop and the Philippines. 

“I like K-Pop’s fashionable and attractive performers. They inspire people to be just like them – so cool and so good-looking. The new Pinoy-pop famous idols like SB19 are still very much trained by Korean professionals, but this time using Taglish songs,” he continued.

For his 2019 win, Solana was sent to South Korea for two weeks with all expenses paid by KBS – a Korean television channel that hosted the competition.

“I feel indebted to the K-pop culture because it was a life-changing experience for me. It was my fate to win it and it was telling me to do something for K-Pop, to pay back my gratitude,” Solana said.

“That’s why I encourage others to appreciate K-Pop, and at the same time, I want to add my own Filipino-touch in the routines that I teach, making them more Pinoy-Pop.”

Solana’s goal is to make K-pop more known in the Irish media: “K-Pop is still new in Ireland. I’m planning to have more K-Pop events in the future hoping to pave a way for the Irish K-Pop fans and hopefully have a normalized K-Pop scene here in Ireland.”

Still a Filipino at heart, Solana also has inspiring words to his countrymen, “To my fellow kababayans, continue to be a true Filipino. We succeed because we are respectful to others. Always stay positive and resilient, especially in the arts industry, where competition can be very tough.”