The revolutionary takeover of K-Pop.
You have heard of K-Pop or ‘Korean Pop’, be it through mainstream media, collaborations, or McDonald’s meal promotions. Ever since PSY’s release of the iconic “Gangnam Style” in 2012, it unlocked the door separating the west from South Korea and it is obvious that the world-renowned superstar group BTS blasted it open. Many Korean artists have made it very clear, that BTS have given K-Pop artists a pedestal and an opportunity to reach out beyond their small country. However, what makes the genre more distinguishable from other genres of music?
Korean groups bear some similarities with modern western pop groups, however what makes them stand out is the ruthlessness and cut-throat industry these groups and artists are managed by. Some artists start training during the time they should be, or are, in full-time education. One example of this is Jeon Jungkook, a singer in BTS who began training around the age of 14-15. Although he is a member of the most successful boyband in the world, he still voices his regrets of not living his childhood.
When relating the takeover of K-Pop with BTS, it’s obvious one of the contributing factors to their ‘revolution’ was the advantage of social media, which acted as free promotion through international support. They regularly posted on Twitter, which they continue to do to this day but with almost 40 million followers and not a couple of thousand and express their love and gratitude to their fans ‘A.R.M.Y’. Their career began to skyrocket from 2017, when they were involved in Billboard performances and international interviews which gave them more attention. This cut-throat nature within the industry, however, pushes Korean artists to their limits and allows them to become highly professional “Idols”. From their extensive choreography combined with their pitch-perfect vocals, it comes as no surprise that some first-time viewers of K-Pop, see them as manufactured robots, instead of human beings. Their performances seem inhumane to an extent as they’re so perfect they almost seem impossible.
Away from the riches, fame and manufacturing of an idol, comes the consequences of being an idol. An artist from the early group SHINee, Jonghyun, was a prime example of the extreme consequences of the K-Pop industry. In 2017, he unfortunately took his own life, which shook the entire K-Pop community – not just fans of SHINee, or even fans of K-Pop, but also individuals who related to Jonghyun’s struggles.
However, despite the known struggles and controversial elements of the industry, it is without a doubt that K-Pop remains and will always be influential on their twenty-first century audiences. Many groups have inspired and helped their fans through hardships and struggles in their lives. K-Pop is exponentially increasing in popularity and relevance, and it is always exciting to see what artists will release next, as the vast variety of music and content released by K-Pop idols always surprises us as K-Pop fans.