K-Pop hysteria swept across Hong Kong with the industry’s biggest award ceremony wrapping up in explosive style on Friday night to the tune of 10,000 screaming fans.
On the final night of the Mnet Asian Music Awards (Mama) in Hong Kong, K-pop superstars BTS cleaned up, winning three awards, including Artist of the Year for the second year running, Best Music Video for their song Spring Dayand Best Asian Style. A very emotional Exo took home Album of the Year with “The War”, while Wanna One and Red Velvet won Best Male Group and Female Group, respectively.
During BTS’ final acceptance speech, Rap Monster exclaimed to the ecstatic crowd, “I love you!”
“We have been welcomed everywhere. I was so curious of the Hong Kong fans. Without the fans we would not be able to come here. It is so good. We are so confident and so proud now.”
This is the fifth time the K-pop extravaganza has been held in Hong Kong. But in a Mama first, the ceremony was spread over four nights in three different Asian cities. (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on November 25; Yokohama, Japan on November 29; Hong Kong on November 30 and December 1).
Mama represents the best of hallyu (the wave of Korean culture), with mega-scale performances and highly stylised idols unleashing a wave of mania across the crowd of starry-eyed fans – mainly made up of young women and teens – whose ear-piecing screams rang out across AsiaWorld-Expo from before the show even began.
Some of the biggest names in the industry took to the stage to perform during the night. Off the back of a hugely successful US trip, that included performances at the American Music Awards, and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show,Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Late Show with James Corden, BTS wowed their very vocal ARMY – acronym for “Adorable Representative M.C for Youth” – with the longest, most energetic and visually stunning set of the night, that included the seven members interacting with a projected art light show.
Exo’s performance saw the crowd belting out the k-pop reggae fusion favourite, Ko Ko Bop; South Korean indie group Hyukoh performed Wanli in monk-inspired outfits, with Asian warriors marching down the crowd.
Hong Kong actress and singer, Karen Mok Man-wai, thrilled her hometown audience with a powerful solo performance that included showing off her skills on the traditional Chinese plucking string instrument, guzheng. She took home Best Asian Artist (Mandarin).
Other acts included G0T7 – which includes Hong Kong rapper Jackson Wang, Red Velvet, Super Junior and Wanna One. While accepting the award for World Performer, with boy group GOT7, Hong Kong rapper, Wang said “I hope our future work won’t leave you disappointed, we will keep working hard.”
Korean megastar Song Joong-ki hosted the event, making his first public appearance since his internet-breakingwedding to Descendants of the Sun co-star Song Hye-kyolast month. Song opened the event reflecting on how much Mama had “matured and grown spectacularly” since he had last hosted in 2012.
Ho Chi Min City kicked off the awards last Saturday with Wanna One winning Best of Next and Seventeen taking out the Worldwide Favourite Artist.
On Wednesday the awards continued in Yokahama with girl group Signal taking out Song of the Year with Twice, aptly, for the second consecutive year. They also walked away with Best Dance Performance for a female group. Pristin were named Best New Female Artist, while Wanna One picked up again, this time for Best New Male Artist. Seventeen also took home Best Dance Performance for a male group.
The first show was held in 1999 under the name of Mnet Music Video Daesang. It wasn’t until 2009 when the awards rebranded to Mama. The following year the show went international, being hosted outside its native South Korea, in Macau. In 2011 it then migrated to Singapore, before heading to Hong Kong the year after, where it has remained (even if 2017 has involved sharing the awards ceremony with other Southeast Asian neighbours – call it K-pop diplomacy, if you will).
The three-way split, with awards divided between each city, shows the award’s continual push to internationalise, in a bid to entice the West to embrace the K-Pop phenomenon. The different locations have allowed organisers to include a wider range of genres from the different regions, reflecting this year’s theme of “coexistence”, with plans to expand the events beyond the K-pop branding, reaching out to all genres in Asia.
Awards were decided by the publics’ votes and a judging panel, and in some cases, digital song sales and album sales.