Any young artist would be thrilled at seeing one of their songs go viral. It has to feel even better, though, when your track’s success is emblematic of warming relations between two countries with a contentious history.
Twenty-two-year-old artist imase released his fifth single, a shuffling dance track titled “Night Dancer,” in August, and quickly found an audience on TikTok in his native Japan. It was not long after that it began gaining momentum in South Korea, too.
“Night Dancer” then morphed into something bigger: It entered South Korea’s Melon Top 100 Song Chart in late February, becoming the first Japanese song to ever break into a ranking comparable to the Oricon Charts. This achievement led imase on a goodwill trip of sorts to the neighboring country, where he made a special bus-top live video for his hit, chatted with GQ Korea and put on a free show for fans in Seoul.