An inside look at the road to being a K-Pop idol: Black On shares his musical journey and visit to the Big Apple

Black On in NYC
K-Pop artist Black On seen in Times Square.
Photo by Amanda Moses

South Korean artist Black On pulled back the glamorous and mysterious veil behind being a K-Pop idol while preparing for the first leg of his USA Luv Tour at old school rock club the Cutting Room on July 6 in K-Town.

Bathed in the neon lights of Times Square, K-Pop idol Black On smiled as he inhaled deeply, taking in the magic of New York City. It was his first time in the Big Apple, and he was ready to take a bite out of the city starting with an old-fashioned hot dog in honor of the upcoming Independence Day holiday. 

“New York City is such a beautiful place, and there are so many kind and sweet people living here. I love it,” Black On said. 

Bobbing his head, Black On spun around as he heard music emanating from every street corner watching dancers shout “showtime” in Father Duffy Square. It is this high energy and diversity that spurred Black On to walk the streets from K-Town to Times Square despite having such a busy schedule.

Black On reading amNY on the subway.
Black On reading amNY on the subway.Photo by Amanda Moses

The road to becoming a K-Pop idol is an arduous journey. One fraught with years of relentless training, a hectic promotional schedule, constant travel (many times out of the artists own pocket), language barriers, and the most important part—simultaneously creating music. It is also highly competitive with thousands around the world competing to be a part of this genre. 

“The idol road is so hard. Now that K-Pop is trendy, there are so many guys who want to debut. To be a K-Pop idol there needs to be a lot of training and studying again and again [along with] making music too,” Black On said. 

While many fans may only see the glamour, Black On says that an idol has to be an actor, dancer, singer, producer, and other musical abilities to be considered top tier. This requires years of training and sacrifices that must be made since almost all facets of a K-Pop idol’s life is shared with the world via social media, reality shows, and other showcases for publicity.  While it is a privilege, it is also a responsibility because an idol is considered a role model and must behave in a certain way.   

Despite the difficulties and obstacles, this experience has been a dream come true for Black On, allowing him to see the world and meet with his fans. 

K-pop star Black On in Times Square.Photo by Amanda Moses

“When I am making this music, I am training hard and every day,” Black On said. 

“As a K-pop idol, what I’m striving for is to create a new worldview that brings a positive influence to the world. This is why I named my fandom ‘Angel.’ I am constantly taking on many challenges, and on our company Xplore Entertainment’s Instagram, there is a phrase that says we are taking on these challenges together with our fans,” Black On added. 

It takes a level of bravery to leave the comforts of South Korea and reach out to an international audience. However, language barriers seem to fade away as Black On gushes that his fan base have embraced him with open arms. 

“I want to level up. I want to sing for my angels,” Black said. “Whenever I’m having a hard time, I communicate with my Angels, relieving my difficulties and thinking of the good memories we’ve made together. By doing this, I overcome all hardships and rise again to take on new challenges.”

Photo by Amanda Moses

On June 30, Black On held a free meet and greet at Mochi Dolci on West 79th Street inviting those who enjoy his music to sit down, chat and even listen to perform two songs. 

This event solidified to those in attendance that Black On is sincere when he says he loves his fans dearly as he treated them more like close friends rather than acquaintances. It through this genuine comradery that Black On thrives as an idol, continuously updating his followers via social media and creating ways to have meaningful interactions with them. 

“So many angels [came here] happy and smiling,” Black On said. 

With pure adoration in his eyes, Black On gladly accepted friendship bracelets and small gifts from fans as he signed autographs and posed for pictures. 

Black On debuted in 2020 and since then has worked tirelessly to prove himself as an artist. July marks his first-time visiting New York City and during the most festive American holidays, which Black On looks forward to celebrating.  

Photo by Amanda Moses

After visiting Times Square for the first time, Black On says that he understands why New York is called the City of Dreams. He saw artist’s sketch onlookers, cameramen sell their photos, and street performers sing their hearts out displaying an environment fostering the arts.  

Even when entering the Herald Square train station, Black On says that every facet of New York City is a beautiful inspiration and adds that he is most looking forward to see the city skyline light up during the Macy’s fireworks display. 

Black On believes his trip to the Big Apple has been an unforgettable experience and hopes he shows his fans his appreciation with a great performance on July 6 at the Cutting Room. 

Photo by Amanda Moses