On K-pop: Breaking boundaries, uniting cultures

By Yodel Berdin

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Graphics for Article

Korean pop music or K-pop is undoubtedly in every radio spin, television and social media. Korea takes pride in it, Asia is flourishing with it and now the world is in love by it. K-pop is a strong vessel for the rise of the “Hallyu wave” but ever wondered how it came to be?

“Hallyu Wave” or “Korean Wave”/“Korean Fever” is the term used to describe the increasing influence of the Korean culture to the world. This concept means that the Korean Culture is being patronized by an influx of people.

A massive turning point in South Korea’s media liberation occurred by 1980’s but the Hallyu wave did not appear until the 1990’s, during this time a music channel began showing Music Videos of Korean groups, that led to the creation of fandoms who are committed subscribers to K-pop.

In 1992, Seo Taiji and Boys had a live performance at a TV show that obtained a large audience, and they say it was the start of K-pop. Boy group H.O.T. also garnered immense popularity in 1998 alongside other groups, thus more consumption of K-pop.

After that breakthrough, people came to acknowledge the idea of K-pop as a unique genre of music. K-pop is catchy, symbolic and more importantly, it has “idols”. Idols are the members composing a K-pop group; they undergo intense training and must possess versatility in dancing, singing, rapping, acting and etc. – a whole package.

K-pop has majestically rose to fame after more groups and artists were discovered. In 2012, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” topped charts at the Billboards and the first music video to ever hit 1 billion views on YouTube, its ‘iconic horse dance step’ was repeatedly mimicked by the world which is a complete manifestation of the Korean Wave.

In 2018, another huge moment for K-pop is the summit of boy group BTS when they became the first K-pop boy group to garner Number 1 at the Billboard 200 and they are currently the boy group since The Beatles to have 3 Number 1 in the Billboard charts in less than 12 months, aside from BTS, other K-pop groups also won numerous awards across the world proving that the long years of K-pop manage to enter the tough Western market. The industry gave a boost in South Korea’s economy and brings billions of dollars as well as many tourists.

K-pop resonate a message that appeals to the interests and preference of all generations and nations. In fact fans around the world unite together in social media or special gatherings discussing themes and music of their idols, fans even take a step further by donating or creating charities they believe is how K-pop and idols have inspired them.

And finally, this success of K-pop also infers that music of a different language, can break the American music market and unite the world no matter the dance or lyrics of a song. Truly, music is a language we all speak.