Preface

I’ve been listening to kpop (south Korean pop music) for about three years now, but only recently has this genre hit the main stage here in North America. It seems that this new popularity can be attributed to PSY and the all-female nine-member group, Girl’s Generation. I’ve been so hooked on kpop these past couple years that I started to learn the Korean language (Hangeul) and have recently applied to teach abroad in Korea after I graduate from McMaster this year.

However, I’ve got a huge problem with Canada’s current image of kpop. Everyone around me seems to think Korean pop just sprang out of nowhere in the past couple months. So, I’m here to share some of knowledge about kpop.

1. What is Korean pop?

Pop music that’s sung in Korean.

2. How is kpop different than North American pop music?

Short answer: it’s not.

Long answer: Korean pop music in the last decade has become increasingly similar to North American pop music, with catchy lyrics, hot dance moves, fashion, and sex. You can think of Kpop as Katy Perry, Rihanna, N Sync, and Britney Spears all combined – but Korean.

3. Who are the most popular kpop stars in Korea?

For girl groups, you’re looking at Girl’s Generation, 2NE1, Brown Eyed Girls, Sistar, and Wonder Girls.  For all male groups, Teen Top, Nu’est, Big Bang, Super Junior and Shinee all come to mind.

4. How popular are these groups?

Girl’s Generation’s video “Gee” garnered 91 million YouTube views alone. To put this into context with a North American celebrity, Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends” video received 105 million views.

5. Why haven’t these groups tried to break into the North American market?

Breaking into a music market where the language of the music isn’t your native tongue is obviously extremely hard. If any of you have tried learning a new language past the age of infancy, then you are aware of the difficulties that come with language learning, so don’t judge. However, kpop artists’ language skills have really progressed over the past decade thanks to Korea’s commitment to educational reform.

What does this mean? North America is about to start seeing a heck of a lot more Korean performers (or at least I hope).

Take Away Message

Korean pop is awesome and everyone should YouTube the artists I mentioned above. And if you’re like me, this will act as a procrastination method so intense that you’ll end up with a far more comprehensive understanding of kpop than your midterm material.

By: Kieran Healey

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