It's called Hallyu, or the Korean wave. This is the idea that South Korean pop music has become so popular that it has become a major driving force in global culture. You can see it in everything, from Korean dramas on Netflix, to Korean skincare regimens dominating cosmetics industries, to delicious Korean tacos featured on your local menu. Hallyu's heart is K-pop, which stands for Korean pop music. K-pop is a global phenomenon due to its unique blend of addictive melodies and slick choreography. There are also countless talented South Korean performers who have spent years learning to dance and sing in sync in strenuous studio environments.
has been making music for over two decades. But K-pop has become more
visible to international audiences in the last five to ten years. South
Korean artists have reached the Billboard Hot 100 at least eight times
since 2009, when the Wonder Girls' crossover single "Nobody" was
released in four languages. The export of Kpop has boosted South Korea's
music industry by an astounding $5 billion.
Some sexy K-pop Performers from BLACKPINK, ITZY and Sana (TWICE)
K-pop was born in 1992 with one explosive hip-hop performance
K-pop, as we know, wouldn't exist without democracy or television. Specifically, South Korea's 1987 reform of its democratic government, which was accompanied by modernization and lessening of censorship. This change also had an impact on television.
the Sixth Republic was established, South Koreans had only two
television networks. They dominated South Korean music and controlled
who it was played. Singers and musicians were little more than tools for
the networks. The networks introduced the public to music stars through talent shows on weekends. Radio was a medium that existed, but it was also tightly controlled by the state. Independent
music production was not possible, and rock music was banned. Musicians
and songs were first introduced to the public via the televised talent
shows. Radio served little more than as a secondary platform for those
entertainers who won weekend TV contests.
Prior to the liberalization in late '80s of South Korean media, music produced by broadcast channels was mostly slow ballads and "trot," which were a Lawrence Welk-ish mix of traditional music and old pop standards. However, South Koreans were more frequently exposed to music from other countries after 1987.
Women and K-pop
K-pop's women are often depicted as traditional female versions of femininity. It is often expressed in one of three themes: cute, shy schoolgirls singing about their crushes; empowered, knowing women who need an "oppa", a strong older male figure to fulfill their fantasies; and empowered, knowing women who reject male validation even though the studio tailors the group for adult male consumption.
The image of an idol group can change from album to album. This is because the new concept requires a complete visual and tone overhaul.
are some girl groups, 2NE1 and F(x), that break away from the
gender-centric performance model. They're marketed as rebels or
mavericks, regardless of their album.
K-pop's women are becoming more self-aware and are able to navigate their relationships with these strict rules. Sunmi, a former Wonder Girls member, is seen tearing down her carefully constructed public image in her new single "Heroine," which tells the story of a woman who has survived a bad relationship. Sunmi's transformations are evident as she confronts the camera, becoming more confident and assertive, and then finally facing a billboard.
Songs for women in Kpop tend to fall along the "virgin/mature girl" line, while songs for men tends to fall along the "bad boy/sophisticated guy" line. Sometimes they even fall apart in the same song, as Block B's "Jackpot," which features the band pretending to be members of a renegade Circus and uniting to kidnap Kim Sae-ron into a life full of joyful hedonism.