K-Pop girl band Girl's Generation. Photo courtesy of asianbite.com
K-Pop, if you don't know by now, is short for Korean pop music. It has finally began gaining popularity in North America. A few months ago a Korean girl band by the name of Girls' Generation was featured on David Letterman and more recently, Google announced that they would host a free K-Pop concert.
So why the sudden interest? I'll admit, I'm new to the K-Pop scene. I first heard of it about two years ago, through a group of Korean international students that I tutored. They were quite surprised that I had never listened to Korean pop or even heard of any of the big names like Wonder Girls, Super Junior, Hyuna, Big Bang, and Kim Hyun-Joon. After listening to a couple of songs and reading about K-pop, it was clearly evident why K-Pop is gaining in popularity.
English is used quite a lot in K-Pop and even more so now that it has gained popularity in North America. Breaking the language barrier is one way to appeal to the wider international community. The second appeal factor has to do with the personality of the individual K-Pop artists. Unlike most North American artists, Korean stars seem to care a lot about their fans. The K-pop industry is filled with artists who take the extra mile to show off their personality and to connect personally with their fans. Many Korean artists will go on talk shows in order to allow their fans the chance to know them more, on a more personal level.
K-Pop fans in London. Photo courtesy of kordream.blogspot.com
K-Pop is fun and entertaining, but there is something more that makes K-Pop unique and perhaps more appealing to a wider crowd. K-Pop seems to be labelled as being "innocent," which is different than the over-sexualized American pop music that we are constantly exposed to. The under focalization of sex in K-Pop comes from the simple fact that Korean and North American cultures are different. What is considered sexual in Korea can be below the sexual norm in the US. Regardless, the "innocence" and "cuteness" in K-Pop videos has introduced new concepts and images to the pop culture scene.
The fact that K-Pop is growing and gaining popularity worldwide is an amazing phenomenon! K-Pop is breaking barriers with its growth. No longer does it simply appeal to the Korean and Asian population but it has also found a way to appeal to an American and western audience.