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K-pop or Korean pop, the world is amazed at K-pop songs and their visuals, the meaning of songs and idols’ beauty, and many more. Today, K-pop is not only for South Korea it’s far beyond the country. K-pop is one of the major global music sensations and has crossed language barriers, cultures, and countries with its unique style of performances. In this article, we have discussed K-pop history, unique characteristics, stories of their popularity, groups who are bringing Korean music to the globe, musical achievements, and the future of K-pop.
The K-pop industry is known for its rigorous training programs, where young talents undergo years of preparation before their debut. Entertainment labels like Hybe Labels, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment are among the major players in shaping K-pop idols’ careers. The dedication of trainees and the production teams’ meticulous attention to detail have contributed to the genre’s success.
Korean pop music first appeared in the early 1990s, but it may have origins back in the 1980s. The early stage of K-pop was mostly inspired by Western pop, hip-hop, and R&B music genres and Korean traditional music. The first Korean boy band was Seo Taiji and Boys, which debuted in 1992. Their debuted song was “I Know,” which is inspired by the Western sounds of hip-hop and R&B. Although the song was different from the Korean traditional music, the Seo Taiga boy band became popular and made their step beyond country music.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, groups such as H.O.T, Shinhwa, and S.E.S emerged, which are the foundation of present K-pop. However, until mid 2000s Korean music couldn’t get worldwide recognition. In 2003 SM Entertainment formed a group named ‘TVXQ’ including five members and they received recognition in Japan and beyond. After them, Super Junior, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls, KARA, SHINee, 2PM, and 2NE1 were formed and popularized K-Pop outside of Korea. After the second generation, starting in 2012 to the end of 2017 third generation spread K-pop beyond Japan, China, and the USA.
PSY’s “GANGNAM STYLE’‘ pioneered K-Pop’s globalization, with the first video ever to hit 1 billion views on YouTube; it now stands at 4.7 billion views. The third generation saw the growth of larger fan bases but also tougher requirements of an ‘idol’ image. EXO, BTS, MAMAMOO, GOT7, TWICE, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, and NCT were founded, as well as other world-class performers. This generation witnessed the most revolutions of any generation. K-pop idols began actively connecting with followers via social media in order to grow their fan bases and build parasocial ties. Companies began to concentrate on developing the group’s image, providing fan service, and merchandising.
To attract a worldwide audience, the third generation of K-pop began to display more sophisticated concepts in their performances. There are numerous music video concepts that have been released in this era. School/teen ideas include self-love, love, sadness, and many others. All of their songs and concepts resonated with the public, and school/teenage songs became increasingly popular, with idols performing in school uniforms and masculine idols dressed handsomely while driving fans insane and fascinated with them. The majority of their clothing was designer, and several worldwide brands collaborated with them to advertise their brands. Songs like “CALL ME BABY” (EXO), “Ice Cream Cake” (Red Velvet), “Blood, Sweat & Tears” (BTS), “TT” (TWICE), “You’re the Best” (MAMAMOO), and “AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST” (BLACKPINK) still make top picks for K-Pop playlists. Most groups from this generation are still active.
Today viral generation gains the greatest rewards from the efforts of artists from preceding generations. Stray Kids, ATEEZ, (G)I-DLE, TXT, ITZY, ENHYPEN, aespa, IVE, LE SSERAFIM, and NewJeans are among the most prominent groups nowadays. What it used to take years to attain success in the past, many 4th generation groups were capable of accomplishing in a matter of months. Even though the 2020 pandemic negatively impacted live performances and touring, k-pop groups continue to achieve massive success in the entertainment industry. Their YouTube music videos reached millions of views within hours and went viral all over the world. K-pop is not only for South Korea, it is now a global phenomenon.
K-pop is more than just an entertainment industry; it is a representation of individuals in society. It makes no difference if you are an American, a Korean, or any other nationality or country. People who enjoy their songs, stories, and passion can follow them. There are numerous reasons to believe that K-pop is more than just music. They give people strength, they make people happy, they stand up for the voice of the people, they represent those who need help, and so on. BTS, as we all know, is one of the world’s most successful K-pop groups. They represented the world’s young generation.
The group was invited to the United Nations Assembly in 2018. It was their first time with the formal title “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture,” given to them by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in order for them to join him at the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th session in New York. The speech has been viewed by millions of fans around the world, and the boys ‘ARMY’, who is known as their fans, have been providing good feedback to the boys for their speech. Furthermore, the global sensation BTS has been invited to speak in front of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021. The band delivered an emotional address about today’s youngsters and how they will shape the future. “I’ve heard that people in their teens and twenties today are being referred to as COVID’s lost generation,” remarked its leader RM. “I think it’s a stretch to say they’re lost, just because the path they tread can’t be seen by grown-up eyes.” BTS members go on to say that even throughout the pandemic, younger generations worked hard to maintain online ties and educate themselves on global issues.
Moreover, when we discuss the economic impact, The K-pop business has made major contributions to South Korea’s economy. It brings in billions of dollars each year through music sales, concerts, merchandise, and tourism. Furthermore, K-pop idols are known for their distinctive fashion sense, influencing trends worldwide. World’s most famous fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Valentino, Fendi, Tiffany & co. Calvin Klein and Burberry are a few brands that collaborated with most famous K-pop idols to promote their brands.
If K-pop continues to break barriers and expand its influence into the world, its future will be brighter than Today. With new trends, new musical concepts, and talented artists it’s possible to reach the top shortly. Also, they can collaborate with worldwide artists and give new experiences to the fans. Also, K-pop idols are now important to society not just as artist, performers, or dancers but just as a person who can advocate social issues, using their global platforms for positive change.
K-pop has grown from humble beginnings to become a global sensation. Their melodies, music concepts, amazing images, choreographies, and messages all contribute to the creation of a more positive society. K-pop originated in South Korea but has now expanded throughout the world as a cultural phenomenon. Hats off to the groups who sacrificed their youth to become idols, paving the way for country music to spread over the world, and the younger generation is doing an excellent job of securing their places in the music industry while producing the best content. As a result, K-pop is well-positioned to continue changing the global music landscape in the next years.