What are the first things that come to mind when you think of South Korea? Kimchi, K-Pop, and K-Drama? Ask a person living in Korea the same question and they may actually say the exact same thing, other common responses would include plastic surgery, barbecue, Soju, or Starcraft. Now, if you happen to ask urban dancers the same question their answers will most definitely include one thing: B-boying. B-boying, otherwise known as break dancing, is becoming more and more synonymous with Korea as each year goes by. Known for their use of amazing power and technical moves, Korean B-boys are taking global competitions by storm and are making a case to be one of the powerhouse B-boy entities in the world.

Bboy embed by jeoelle-jiyeon

Most recently Red Bull held their annual BC One World Finals competition in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. This event is both a celebration of urban dance as well as the culture that comes with it. Sixteen contestants are chosen from around the world through the use of regional qualifying tournaments. The BC One Asia Finals saw three Koreans enter, with two of them facing off during the semi-finals, which lead to a Korea(Vero) vs Japanese(Nori) finals, with Nori coming out victorious. The World finals bracket, however, consists of 8 previous champions, 6 new challengers, and 2 wildcard contestants. Of the 8 returning champions were two Koreans; the 2006 Champion Hong10 of Drifterz/7 Commandoz and the 2008 champion Wing of Jinjo Crew/7 Commandoz. BC One is a single elimination competition between the sixteen contestants. As with the Asia Championships, the semi-finals saw two Korean contestants go head to head, with Hong10 prevailing and moving on to win the entire contest against Mounir of France.

While a single competition is no reason to dub all Korean B-boys as royalty, there are other cases to consider as well. R-16, the R is for ‘Respect’, is a global B-boying competition held annually in Korea. One of the biggest competitions in the world, R-16 has both a solo and team competition for its’ contestants and is held over the span of two days. The Korean team, Morning of Owl, took home the finals team Championship in 2013 only adding credence to the dominance of the Korean teams. Since the competition’s inception in 2007 a Korean team has taken home top honors three of the seven years running, in 2010’, 11’, and 13’ while finishing second in 07’ and 08’. Being sponsored by the Korea Tourism Organization means R-16 makes a conscious effort  to showcase the art, music, and culture of both dance and Korea.

Need more proof? Battle of the Year is considered the largest and premier international BBoying competition, and in 2013 Korea’s MC Fusion was crowned victorious. To put some perspective on Korea’s presence in the Bboying world, it wasn’t until 2001 that a South Korean team had placed or won anything, in the competitions 23 year history. Visual Shock took home 4th place as well as Best in Show. Since then, South Korean teams have placed within the top three spots eleven out of the twelve competitions, taking home 1st place seven out of twelve, followed closely by France winning five out of twelve.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will simply mention that out of the three major international B-boy competitions (BotY Internationals, R-16 World B-boy Masters Championship, and UK B-boy Championships World Finals) a Korean Team has taken home 1st place a total of twelve times in the last six years of the three competitions. Also, the 2013 winner of the UK B-Boy Championship World finals? You guessed it, Korea’s Morning of Owl. So the next time you think of Korea, remember that much more than K-pop, kimchi, and Dramas make their way off the Korean coast. It’s only a matter of time until the rest of the world discovers what the B-boy and dance culture already knows – that South Korean B-boys have some serious skill and are here to stay.

Check out Morning of Owl (KOR) take on Body Carnival (JAP) at the 2013 R16 Finals.

Sources: R16 / Battle of the Year / BC One

Photo Cred – Cover:~chicchun~  Body: joelle-jiyeon kamille_J

Let know what you think about Korea’s presence in the BBoy world below!