A Guelph YouTuber is using the video platform to help learn and build friendships all over the world around K-Pop.
Andrew Piluk creates reaction videos to the latest songs released by Korean Pop (K-Pop) stars. Since starting his channel almost four years ago, the YouTuber has amassed over 250,000 subscribers. His channel has also received a specific award created by YouTube, the silver YouTube play button award, which recognizes creators with over 100,000 subscribers to their channel on the platform.
Piluk said he never thought he was going to listen to international music like K-Pop, but decided to give it a try after his best friend started listening to the genre.
"The second I started reacting to it, I knew I was hooked," said Piluk. "The second you turn on the video, there is always something going on."
Known for its choreography and music videos, K-Pop is seeing a growing fan base around the world, with groups like BlackPink and BTS making it onto North American music charts. From learning about the genre, Piluk said you can tell there is a genuine relationship between K-Pop artists and their fans.
"Their fans are really getting a lot of content and a ton of value from these artists," said Piluk. "It's really cool, they keep you engaged."
With his videos varying in thousands of views, the most popular video done by Piluk was the reaction to a BlackPink song How You Like That which got over 1.1 million views.
"I'll get comments like, 'Hey, I've started listening to this stuff because of your videos,' or 'I've started to enjoy this artist or this group because of your videos,' an that's pretty cool because you're getting a chance to show somebody, somebody they've never heard of before."
While there are thousands of reaction videos to K-Pop artists on YouTube, Piluk hopes his channel can help open eyes and ears to K-Pop. He adds viewers see him trying to learn about the genre and cheering these artists on.
"I'm not doing it for money or for people to know who I am," said Piluk, "I want to learn, and I want to interact with these people, and I want to open my eyes and my ears to a culture and to a space that I thought I would never get access too.
"Music speaks its own language so when you're listening to something, you don't really have to understand it to really like the song."
While he has a long list of K-Pop artists and rappers he listens to, Piluk is a big fan of BlackPink with his all time favourite K-Pop song, Playing With Fire by BlackPink. Beside BlackPink, Piluk likes BTS, Itzy and Jackson Wang.
In addition to this channel, Piluk manages other YouTube channels and works full-time at Walmart as a fresh manager. Once doing multiple videos a day, Piluk said he now releases three to five videos a week.
"It can be quite difficult because of the time difference, they could release a new song at four in the morning, so there are days where I set my alarm for quarter to four in the morning, react to the song, get ready for my job, and then after that, I would come back home and create more content and then I go to bed," said Piluk.
"I do that quite often, and the thing is, if I didn't love it then I wouldn't do it. Above all else, I really enjoy the connection I have made with people."
Recently attending his first BlackPink concert, Piluk was also recognized by other fans at the show, who posed with him for photos and thanked him for his videos.
When out and stopped by people who have seen his videos, Piluk said he enjoys thanking them for their support and tries to get to know them.
"Really, I'm the one who should be thanking them, because without them, I don't have a channel," he said.
Making videos since 2009, Piluk said he wants to do more with his platform. In 2023, Piluk is planning to launch a K-Pop podcast with his friend on YouTube and may someday start another channel where he learns about different global artists.
"There's a megastar we might not even know about."