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Star choreographer inspires in four-minute offerings

Oct 21, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

She's the choreographer of One Million Dance Studio with more than 20 million YouTube subscribers, choreographer of K-pop stars such as Hyo-ri Lee, Girls' Generation, Twice, and Sunmi, and World Street Dance champion. Meet Lia Kim,  the hottest contemporary choreographer in South Korea.

Lia Kim


If you're interested in K-pop, you've heard of Lia Kim. But she's not a performer, she's a choreographer. She teaches dance to globally adored K-pop stars and is credited as the choreographer for countless hit songs. She is also a star YouTuber whos's earned the Diamond Play Button awarded to content creators with more than 10 million subscribers, and is among the top 1% of YouTube creators in terms of subscribers.

Michael Jackson's dance moves inspired a dream

Kim first fell in love with dancing when she was in the third year of middle school. Enthralled by watching Michal Jackson's Korea concert on TV, she begged her father to enroll her in a dance class at the Youth Culture Center. She has lived for  dancing ever since. She gave up college and joined a choreography troupe, earning global recognition by winning the locking category at the 2006 Street Dance World Championships.

“People think I was born as a dancer. But in fact, I am a hard worker who doesn't give up.”

Neither born with a silver spoon nor a natural dancer, she slept in a cold underground practice room, danced, made choreography, and led her choreography team. It was because of her dream of being a choreographer that she was able to do 1,000 push-ups for three hours a day and practice dancing at least eight hours a day. Her tenacity to succeed as a choreographer did not falter  despite numerous hardships and failures, and eventually led to her success story.

Foreigners flock to dance studio


Why is Kim so committed to dancing?

“Dancing is an art that transcends language barriers. It also has the power of healing, so it is also soothes your wounds of the heart.”

In fact, there are many fans who realize life is beautiful just by watching one of her four-minute dance videos on YouTube. But she says having fans gives her the energy to dance. One Million Dance Studio, which she leads as co-chairman, is crowded with students coming to Korea to learn dance from all over the world, including from other parts of Asia, South America, Europe, the United States and Africa. About 70% of her dance class attendees are foreigners. Dreaming of a world where everyone can enjoy dancing, Lia Kim plans to continue her dance lessons.

Connecting to the world

Recently Lia Kim published Reality, No Reality, a photo book capturing her philosophy of choreography using intense visuals. Having communicated through YouTube, she loves to connect with fans through various mediums, such as books, Instagram, and TikTok.

"I think true artists should communicate with the public so that more people can enjoy it. That's why we actively use social media such as YouTube and Instagram."

She still has many ambitions as choreographer, wanting to create inclusive dance instruction and performances that can be enjoyed regardless of age, gender, nationality, or religion. To this end, Lia Kim plans to collaborate with artists around the world in various fields. The dream of a teenage girl inspired by Michael Jackson's dance moves is still alive. 

Recently Kim and One Million Dance Studio created a video for the COVID-19 era, Until We Rise Again, presenting social distance practices through dance.

By Danbee Lee
dblee@hankyung.com

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