Your Complete Guide to KPOP Music Awards and Festivals

Elly Zulaikha
October 16, 2020
5 minutes

The KPOP music awards and festival season is a busy, annual activity for both KPOP groups and fans themselves. From their favorite groups being awarded to witnessing amazing stage performances of their famous hits, KPOP fans are in for a treat. 

Unfortunately, this year things would be different since the hit of COVID-19. Just like all industries impacted by the pandemic, the South Korean entertainment industry also suffered badly, as some events were canceled and concert tours postponed. However, as people are forced to adapt to this situation, some events have turned to online concerts to continue bringing  shows to KPOP fans. 

With that being said, here’s your ultimate guide to KPOP music awards and festivals that every KPOP fan must know!

We'll start with KPOP Music Awards!

Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) 

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The Mnet Asian Music Awards or famously known as MAMA is one of the biggest music awards held annually by CJ E&M entertainment. MAMA was first held in Seoul in 1999 on the Mnet channel. The award ceremony had been held outside Korea between 2010 and 2017, but now airs internationally. 

MAMA is usually held in November or December. As the official voting period commences on October 21, fans will participate by voting for their favorite groups based on these respective categories:- 

Grand Prizes (otherwise known as daesang)

- Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year

Competitive awards: 

- Best Male Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Male Group, Best Female Group, Best New Artist, Best Dance Performance, Best Vocal Performance (among many)

Apart from star-studded guests and nominees, fans get super hyped because of MAMA’s amazing stage performances that get better every year! In a nutshell, MAMA is the Korean equivalent to the MTV Awards.

Golden Disc Awards (GDA)

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The Golden Disc Awards is an award ceremony that honors achievements in the local music industry since it was first held in 1986. This award was previously known as the Korea Visual and Records Grand Prize until 2001, where the event later changed to its current name.  

Similar to MAMA, the Golden Disc Awards took place in South Korea until 2011, and only in 2012, it was hosted in Osaka, Japan. Besides that, the awards were also held internationally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2013), and Beijing, China (2015). 

This award ceremony also boasts significant award categories, mainly: 

  • Grand Prizes: Album of the Year or Album Daesang and Digital Song of the Year or Digital Song Daesang 
  • Main Prizes: Album Bonsang and Digital Song Bongsang
  • Other prizes: Rookie of the Year Award, Popularity Award, Genre Awards, Best OST, Next Generation Artist, Best Group, Best solo (among many)

So we’re thinking the Golden Disc Awards = the GRAMMYs?

MelOn Music Awards (MMA)

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Organized by Kakao M, the Melon Music Awards is also an annual, major music awards shows held in South Korea since 2009. For its name, Melon is actually a South Korean online music store and music streaming service, which was first launched in 2004 by SK Telecom. It wasn’t until 2009, LOEN Entertainment (currently Kakao M) became the company-in-charge of Melon. 

This award show is important to many Korean artists because it is where they gain recognition and fame through Melon’s 28 million users. To qualify for an award, artists must secure 3 judging criteria scores: Online Voting, Digital Sales, and Judge Score. 

The awards are:

Grand Prizes, Main Prizes, Best New Artist, Genre Awards, Popularity Awards, and Special Awards.

MBC X Genie Music Awards (MGA)

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The Genie Music Awards is a relatively new music award show, that is held annually and organized by Genie Music. As of 2019, the Genie Music Awards was renamed M2 X Genie Music Awards (MGMA), in place of their partnership with Mnet’s digital studio, M2. 

However, what sets them apart is their judging criteria. In 2018’s MGA, the chosen artists were nominated based on Digital Sales, Online Voting, Judging Score, and Social Media. Additionally, in 2019’s MGMA, the award show added an extra category: Twitter Voting. 

At the same time, the accumulated scores were also tracked through various music shows such as Show Champion, Show! Music Core and M Countdown and voting apps like Idol Champ, M-Wave, Whosfan, and Mubeat.

Now onto KPOP Music Festivals:

Korean Wave Convention (KCON)

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The KCON or Korean wave convention is an annual KPOP festival held in various locations around the world. This festival was created by Koreaboo and organized by CJ E&M, where it was first held in Southern California, 2012. Due to the rising popularity of KPOP and fans’ demand, KCON has since expanded into eight countries (USA, Japan, France, Australia, Thailand, UAE, Mexico, and South Korea).

However, KCON 2020 had an online replacement titled KCON: TACT, due to the ongoing COVID-19, it aired via YouTube, AISPlay, and Shopee.

Busan One Asia Festival (BOF)

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This mega Hallyu festival takes place annually in October at Busan. At the same time, Busan One Asia Festival usually lasts for 7 days and it takes place all over Busan. 

Here, festival-goers can enjoy the various Korean cultural contents such as fan meetings, exhibitions, experience booths, and performances. Of course, the highlight of this festival would be the spectacular stage performances by famous KPOP groups!

Fun fact: Along with the BOF Festival in October, Busan Firework Festival is also another must-see in Busan. This festival is the biggest firework festival not only in Korea but also in Asia! 

We mean, who wouldn’t be thrilled to see your favorite groups perform AND watch the night sky light up on top of it?!

SBS Inkigayo Concert

Image via kpopmap

SBS Super Concert is one of the most hyped annual KPOP festivals to-date. Complete with a star-studded lineup, featuring catchy hits and amazing dance performances that gets bigger and better every year, it is not surprising KPOP fans always look forward to this event! 

KBS Song Festival

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KBS Song Festival or KBS Gayo Daechukje, also known as is an annual year-end event held by the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and airs on the KBS channel. It was first aired in 1965 and used to be an awards show, however, like MBC Gayo Daejejeon and SBS Gayo Daejon (music festivals), KBS discontinued giving awards in 2006. It has since become one of the biggest music festivals in South Korea. 

MBC Gayo Daejejeon

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MBC Gayo Daejejeon is an annual, end-of-the-year music show and was first held in 1966 by one of South Korea’s major broadcasting networks, the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). Initially named as MBC Ten Singers Match, this event was first held in 1966 and used to be a competition among 10 singers to win the grand prize, “King of Ten Singers”. However, the Seoul Citizens Hall caught on fire in 1972, killing 53 people and injuring more than 1,500 people (including singers). 

It was then in 2005, the competition turned into an annual music show and rebranded itself as the MBC Gayo Daejejeon.  

SBS Gayo Daejeon

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Similar to MBC Gayo Daejejeon, SBS Gayo Daejejeon is an annual, year-end music festival that is broadcasted by the Seoul Broadcasting System. The program first aired in 1997, where artists were rewarded for their accomplishments from 1997 to 2006. However, the program stopped giving awards to artists in 2015 and has now become one of KPOP’s star-studded music shows.  

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