Growing popularity of Korean music (K-pop)

K-POP is a short form used for Korean music, it is a musical genera originated in South
Korea. Its musical roots is spreading all over the world, but why is K-POP (Korean music)
gaining so much popularity in the western world, despite the music being in a foreign language?
I argue that the growing popularity of K-POP (Korean music) as a global phenomenon,
especially in the western part of the world, is due to factors like social media, the influence of
western culture, and the idols multilingual skills that plays a crucial role in the success of Korean
music.
The impact of social media in circulating and facilitating the rapid growth of Korean
music, making it a global phenomenon. Social media has played a crucial role in the growth of
Korean music. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and specially YouTube is the
leading social networking site that is constantly helping in the growth of K-POP. For example the
article by Dal Young Jin, he point out how young adults instead of buying CDs and DVDs and
watching famous culture on theatres or television are now using social media such as YouTube
and Facebook to relish poplar music. (Jin & Yoon as cited in Dal Yong Jin, 2018). The Korean
music industries does not confine itself or are reluctant on popular networking sites. They have
mastered the business of globally promoting individual K-POP group. They have developed
online games with animated K-POP idols characters, sites where global fans can communicate
with they admired idols irrespective from where they are and online merchandise that represent
particular groups. The Seattle Times had published an article by Sohee Kim and Pei Yi Mak focusing on how “mastermind mind producer”( Sohee Kim & Pei Yi Mak, 2019, p1)has built a
strong fortune.“In addition to Big Hit’s proprietary merchandise such as games and cushions to
pajamas featuring characters created by BTS, there’s even a line of Barbie dolls.Bang is a low-
key figure not known for the ostentatious displays of wealth often seen in K-pop.” (p1) this
statement indicates that not only social networking site but social website like games and online
shopping has also played a vital role in the growth of Korean music.
K-POP idols have robust multilingual skills, which act as a catalyst in the growing
popularity of Korean music. The idols not only vigorously learn how to perform their music in
front of the audience but also train for several years to master different languages. The idols are
taught to communicate with different ethnicity in different ways. which not only helps them
connect with their fans in and around Asia but globally. It is said that “Having a multilingual
skill not only appeals to the fans in Asia, but it makes it more accessible to fans in the western
world.” (Alicia Prince, 2013, p5). Having a multilingual skill helps them understand and
communicate with fans and most importantly they can attend interviews and award shows held in
the western world without a translator. According to billboard news, the fluent English speaker
among the idols translate the things that are difficult for other members to catch up (Caitlin
Kelley, 2017). This also goes for other languages such as French, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese
that are popular language among the idols.(Koreaboo 2018). We can take an example of a
Korean idol Henry who can speak six different languages “ Korean, English, Cantonese, French,
Thai and mandarin.”( Hannahlex 2018, p 8). The process does not end here due to the growing
popularity of K-POP, the western fan is taking a major part in learning Korean language to have
a better understanding of what the idols is telling. According to an article by BBC News The
latest “statistics show 14,000 students are learning Korean in the US, compared to only 163 two decades earlier.” (Matt Pickles, 2018, p2). We cam estimate that not only the idols but also the
fans are taking part in learning languages to cut the language barriers between them.
The western music culture having a huge influence on K-POP, which is also one of the
factor that leads to the popularity of Korean music. Nevertheless an article about the influence of
western music on K-POP states that “American music culture has the most significant impact on
the evolution of the Korean music regarding the style of the music and the preference of the
domestic audience and these influence are still apparent even in the contemporary K-pop musical
products” (Stephen, 2018, p1). The agencies send their idols to different parts in the west to
promote them self as well as learn and adapt western music culture. Many K-pop idols have done
covers of western music artist in many of their concerts or have posted it on YouTube which
grabbed most Westerners attention. According Zheng , Korean music has incorporated elements
of American pop, hip-hop, and R&B along with their synchronized dances. ( Hua Zheng, 2018).
Over the past few years there has been a rapid collaboration between American musician and K-
POP groups. Many famous American artists have collaborated with the Korean idols and
produced songs that has made it to the top ten billboard charts.K-pop group like BTS and
western musician Steve Aoki are know for their outstanding works, and are taking advantage of
it. “Waste It On Me” one of their best hit is the third collaboration between the Korean boy band
and the American DJ and producer, following their collaborative hits “Mic Drop” and “The Truth
Untold.” “Waste It On Me” is BTS’ first all-English song, connecting the language gap between
them and their English-speaking fans.(Jean Natividad, 2018)

The growing popularity of Korean music is phenomenal, and factors like social media, western music culture and idols multilingual skills play a vital role in helping it grow in
the western part of the world. However, we cannot deny the fact that the idol’s hard work, talent,
and, most importantly, dedication played a significant role in the growth of Korean music K-POP
in the western world.

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