South Korea launches 'K-pop academy' in Mexico

Korean pop band Shinee dancing on stage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The slick dance moves of K-pop groups like Shinee take years of training

South Korea is offering Mexicans the chance to see what it takes to be a Korean pop star, as part of a government-sponsored cultural course.

Dubbed K-Pop Academy, participants will be given language training to ensure they can pronounce Korean song lyrics, and a month of advanced instruction in singing and dancing, the Yonhap news agency reports.

They'll be taught by K-pop professionals, the agency says, including vocal trainers and choreographers who have worked alongside major successes such as Girls' Generation. Anyone applying must be at least 15 years old.

It's being run by the Korean Cultural Centre in Mexico City, which says more than 400 people have applied to take one of the 60 places available.

"This academy will provide an opportunity for us to upgrade the way we spread Korean culture, from simply watching it to experiencing it," says the centre's director Chang Chi-young. Korean cultural institutes have previously held broader courses covering topics such as the country's food, history and traditional dress.

South Korea's government has for years used K-pop artists as a means of exporting the country's pop culture. But the industry has also faced scrutiny over so-called slave contracts, where trainees are tied into long deals with little financial reward. Some pop stars have also complained of dating bans imposed by their management agencies.

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