It hasn’t been long since K-pop made its breakthrough in many nations worldwide. With popular groups such as BTS and Blackpink going No.1 on Billboard charts, and many K-pop musicians winning awards at big award shows, the amount of media attention geared towards these artists has definitely skyrocketed. This global phenomenon has become increasingly visible and appealing to many audiences across the world, and it is safe to say that the South Korean music industry has fairly made its way up to dominating numerous music charts, as well as surpassing the most successful artists in our generation today. There has obviously been a large controversy surrounding the growing popularity of these exciting and diverse K-pop artists, and people often wonder what exactly is causing such a craze over this 5 billion dollar industry. Maybe its the music videos and performances, or maybe it’s the complex production of every album. Whatever it is, it is very clear that K-pop has become a very unique contributor to pop music, and it is no wonder that so many people have come to love and support the genre.
Although K-pop has been around for well over 20 years, it wasn’t until late 2017 and early 2018 that supergroup, BTS, set a platform in America for all other groups to gain much of their deserved popularity. While selling out arenas and stadiums in not only the U.S. but in more than 10 other countries, BTS has spread their love for music, as well as a great amount of positivity with their famous message, “love myself, love yourself.” They have also had multiple songs debut high on Billboard’s U.S. Hot 100 and on the Billboard 200 charts, including “Fake Love” and their recent title track, “Boy with Luv,” from their latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona. Something worth recognizing is their large fanbase, which consists of around 20 million people. Given the immense popularity of BTS, it is obvious that many other K-pop groups with their own special talents and charms would come out and shine. Artists like Twice, Blackpink, and Exo have made special names for themselves, and have also released chart-topping songs and albums. Especially with the use of social media, K-pop idols have been able to communicate with their fans often, and this has only created an even larger audience for themselves.
However, K-pop does have negative connotations and fanbases linked to it, and while there are many national and international fans supporting this genre, there is an equal amount of negativity towards the famous groups. Because of toxic fans, even K-pop lovers do not associate themselves with the fanbases, and it causes a lot of controversy inside and outside the world of Korean pop music. Because of fan wars with American fanbases of groups like former One Direction and 5sos, these fans have become protective of their respective groups and have come to resent others who surpass them in global charts, etc. These fan wars are what mostly causes extreme controversy towards the genre and cause many people to leave and even hate the fandom.
Many influential artists in the industry say that “music transcends language,” and what they often mean by this is that, even if the majority of their following can’t fully understand the words they are singing, the emotion poured into their music can always be felt easily. The gradual evolution of K-pop suggests that all the attention received is because of these artists pushing against their set norms, through experimenting with different themes and subtexts in their music videos and albums that are ever so compelling. This is what seems to continue their global success. No matter what new music trends our society will face, the production of K-pop will forever go on and remain a global phenomenon. This, I believe, is what makes K-pop such a successful industry, and why so many people have come to fall in love with these idols.