Plus Global Audition, aspiring K-pop Idol Interview with Kiki Gaiten

Illustration & Animation:  Ram Han

Illustration & Animation: Ram Han

In search of the next generation of girl group members, SOURCEMUSIC and Big Hit Entertainment ( a South Korean entertainment company managing acts including BTS and TXT) have announced its ‘PLUS GLOBAL AUDITION’ scheduled to take place from October 5, 2019 to October 27, 2019.

For many young aspiring idols across the globe, this audition is said to be a rare and major opportunity to make their dream come true. We caught up with high school student Kiki Gaiten, 18, by way of North Carolina, who talks being introduced to BTS, shopping at Hot Topic, and why she wants to become a black K-pop idol.

Isis Nicole: Can you introduce yourself and current interests?

Kiwanna Gaiten: My name is Kiwanna, also known as Kiki, and I was born on July 17th, 2001 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m a singer, rapper and songwriter.

IN: I learned in one of your videos that you want to be an example for Korean and global audience. How would you describe yourself first, and then your culture?

KG: When I said I wanted to be an example for Korean audience I meant an example of an African- American who isn’t a thug since the media portrays African-Americans as thugs and killers. For the global audience, I want to become a successful non-Asian idol so girls like me who have the same dream won’t be afraid to go outside the box and try something new.

IN: Do you remember the moment you started listening to K-pop? I’m much older, so for myself, it was around 9th grade in 2004.

KG: Yes. I started listening to K-pop in 2015 when I was in middle school ( I’m a senior in high school now) and the first video I came upon was “No More Dream” by BTS. They are my favorite artist in K-pop and also EXO. [I think] K-pop is very different from western music, not just because the language, but also its style and the process of becoming an idol, too. That’s why I like K-pop.

IN: When did you decide to try becoming an idol?

KG: I decided to try to become an idol when I was about 15-years-old, and I haven’t stopped trying either.

IN: What are some of the positives and negatives in your experience as a K-pop fan?

KG: For positives, some stores in my city like, Hot Topic, sell K-pop merchandise, and I’m able to support my favorite groups. As for negatives, my favorite groups never come to my city (or not close enough) and also another negative is I’m a K-pop fan who wants to become an idol. Most people think I’m a Koreaboo because of that but that’s not true at all.

IN: How do you familiarize yourself with K-pop auditions / how did you hear about Plus Global audition?

KG: Most of K-pop companies today hold global auditions around the world and since social media is so big now, I see it all the time by following their pages on Instagram or Twitter.

IN: You created a group chat for non-Asians auditioning to become idol(s). Can you share more about what kind of things do you do to encourage / support each other?

KG: So … you really don’t see lots of K-pop fans who are non-Asian and want to be idols. And when you do, other fans tell us we can’t because it’s just supposed to be Asians, but that’s like saying a someone can’t make American music because their not from America, or their not black, or white. We encourage each other by recording ourselves singing or dancing, and we give them feedback.

IN: Do you have a current favorite idol?

KG: I have a lot. I love BTS, EXO, Twice, Got7, Red Velvet, NCT, Shinee, SNSD etc.

IN: What have you learned about yourself in the audition process?

KG: I’ve learned that I’m passionate, not just about K-pop, but music as a whole. Ever since I was little I’ve been wanting to be a performer and just make people happy and connect with people. I’m not like other artists. I want to listen to and understand my fans because they chose to support me.

IN: What would make you happiest when everything's said and done?

KG: What would make me the happiest is getting accepted knowing I’ve been practicing very hard for this moment and knowing that the impossible is possible, no matter what people say to me.

Plus Global Audition cities: Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Hanoi, Kaohsiung, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Sapporo, Osaka, Gwangju, Busan, Melbourne, Singapore, Perth, New York, Los Angeles.


Artwork for @plus_audition
Illustration & Animation: Ram Han
Produced by Big Hit Entertainment
Creative Director : Min Heejin
Direction & Coordination:
Yemin Kim, Nayeon Kim, Hangyeol Kim