There’s been a rise in the Korean pop music industry. In 2012, the first annual Korean wave convention (KCON) was held in Southern California and its present fan base was just a few hundred fans. As of this year it’s reported that the convention is held in eight different countries all over the world with more than one hundred thousand attendees and tickets costing a minimum of $155.
How did Korean pop music come to take over the west? The short answer is globalization.
With technology allowing more access to nearly every corner of the world international outreach is becoming more and more accessible across a variety of industry—media in particular. Just as Despacito took over the radio waves in the US and influenced many producers to collaborate across cultures, I suspect the same fate for Korean artists. On October 6th a Seoul crew of seven members called BTS became the first Korean group to perform at a stadium in the US (RollingStone). The concert was performed at Citi Field in New York and the show sold out in a matter of minutes.
The Winter Olympics were held earlier this year and popular music by the band BTS was broadcasted to the audience during the opening events. So how did it all begin? When South Korea established it’s Sixth Republic, marking the first popular vote in nearly two decades, the government did away with authoritarian rule. The result was a decrease in censorship, but culture is slow to change. Many western forms of expression such as rock and roll were still controversial, but there were now talent shows broadcasts. The result was a group by the name of Seo Taiji and the Boys releasing a song that held the record of being the number one song for seventeen weeks in a row which was a record they held for fifteen years. They didn’t win the talent show but this marked a change in the late 80s.
Since the debut of the boys, Korean Pop musicians have been singing and synchronizing their dance moves and making an avenue for artists all over the world!
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