Evolution Of Korean Music Research Paper - CMC English Composition - Research Essay

1920 words - 8 pages

Martinez 1
Jessica Martinez
Mrs. Anderson
CMC College Composition
9 November 2017
Korean Music Takeover
Korean speakers are not the only one’s listening to Kpop. The Korean pop culture has
left the world starstruck with their incredible music performance, great amount of talent, and
international fans that are dominating the fandoms. “Gangnam Style” by PSY was the start to the
globalization of South Korean music. Kpop connects with the fans in a personal level, some fans
may think of Kpop as their home and others may think of Kpop as something fun to listen to here
and there. Kpop resembles the American mainstream music, which is why the Korean music
culture has captured the hearts of millions of American fans. The evolution of Korean music
goes as far back as the 1900s, Kpop has been around for awhile, yet barely getting recognized
until now. Since then, Korean music has grown throughout the world and continues to spread.
In 2012, the mega-hit “Gangnam style” released and made a huge impact on the Kpop
world. The song has then continued to grow more and more views each year. According to
professor Won-Yong, “In July 2016, Gangnam Style surpassed 2.6 billion views on Youtube”
(Oh, 1), it is fascinating to witness the views skyrocket, knowing people come back to the video
to enjoy the music even though most of the viewers do not understand the language.
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The success of Korean Music did not just happen after “Gangnam Style”, but also
because of the Korean music industry’s three factors; strategic talent management, customer
relationships built via social media, and localized product offerings. Strategic talent management
makes all of a difference when it comes down to music industries around the world, talent is
discovered by scouts or through auditions. Companies look for kids, rather than adults, usually as
young as nine or ten, accepting all talents from around the world in hopes of grooming them into
the next generation of Kpop stars. According in recent studies, “S.M. Entertainment host annual
auditions in several countries, and selects a few trainable and marketable individuals out of more
than 300,000 applicants” (Oh, 3), S.M. Entertainment is the biggest music company in Korea,
which makes it hard for applicants to be accepted into boot camp training. In boot camp training,
the trainees will be provided with dorms, which will be shared with others. The trainees will be
entered into tournament not knowing who will stay or who will leave without making their
professional debut. The trainees who make it after tournament, will practice up to twelve hours a
day and take side classes in acting, dancing, and singing. Trainees also take language classes,
such as Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean for foreigners. Learning these languages prepare
them for K Pop's international markets. Trainees go through this cycle for at least two years
before they are selected to debut as an artist.
In customer relationships built via social media, Kpop entertainment companies use
Youtube and other social media to gain attention of new upcoming artists and music. Interacting
with fans through media is a great way to distribute music at a low cost. Kpop companies have
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an advantage because Kpop fans are regularly on social media giving feedback on music and
concerts. Through social media, advertizing is not an issue, for example, “When the artist
Taeyang released his debut solo album, Solar, in 2010, his management company, YG
Entertainment, spent very little on traditional advertising” (Oh, 5), fans spreading the word out
on social media helps out companies, like Taeyang’s company. Fan interaction is mandatory.
In Localized product offerings, stars take bigger steps in serving their audience by
releasing albums in foreign languages. Kpop companies do not find ready-made talent but
instead manufacture it, not treating the world as one single market but localizing songs and
groups. An example of product offering can be identified in, “S.M. Entertainment’s boy group
EXO, which has two versions; EXO- K and EXO-M” (Oh, 6), the K stands for Korean and the M
stands for Mandarin. The twelve member boy group is split into two groups of six and group K
performs their songs in Korean, while group M performs their songs in Mandarin. Both groups
perform the same songs, choreography, and wear the same costumes but just sing different
Kpop has found popularity in the United States, Americans who are new to the genre
however, may find it to be disorienting or enjoyable. K-con is an event and concert in LA, in
which a handful of kpop stars come to LA to perform for American fans. Fans come together to
watch their favorite idols live at K-con, screaming at the top of their lungs for hours at times.
Tickets are usually sold out within a couple of hours. To American fans, Kpop is not just a music
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genre but instead a culture. According to a fan, “Kpop is not just a song or genre, it’s an entire
culture” (Flatley, 2), Kpop becomes something more than just a genre, getting involved in a
community of individuals who favor the same bands feels special to others, making them very
passionate towards the Kpop culture.
Music expectations in Korea are very strict. Kpop idols have to be perfect and precise
when it comes down to entertaining an audience or else everything is wrong. Such as
choreography, dancing is a big deal in the kpop entertainment industries, if a dance is not
flowing right with the song or the song is not fitting well with the dance, everything is wrong.
Choreography takes a huge role on a creation of a song, so everything must be absolutely
flawless. According to Relic, a musician, “the choreography and presentation are equally as
important as the song. If one’s not good, everything falls apart.” (Flatley 6), Koreans like to have
their music correspond with their choreography because they want the fans to feel included in the
music videos as well. These choreographies are some what simplified at certain parts of the
dances for fans to dance along. Fans have the ability to dance along with their idols during a
concert, if they can dance to the choreography in the first place, so it is important for the
choreography to be perfection in the Kpop industry.
Dances are not the only way to interact with Kpop idols, but also through fan merch;
such as T-Shirts, balloons, posters and glowsticks. Fanchants are especially impressive when
interacting with Kpop idols, the complex chants that the audience sings along with in unison are
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sung along with the band’s performance. These chants are created for the fans to sing during a
comeback of an artist, according to Simon from Eat Your Kimchi,
“the record labels will actually release a song to the official fan groups before it hits the
actual airwaves. The fan groups can memorize a fan chant of a song, so at the actual debut
performance of the song they can sing along with it. It’s a crucial part of the marketing”
(Flatley, 9).
Kpop industries provide the fans with merch, dances, and chants to memorize and wear during a
concert. Fans are the key to a successful band, so fans are treated as important as the idol in
Korean music entertainment.
Kpop could be the exact look-alike of American mainstream music, the two are very
similar, however, the cultural identities are different from one another. Kpop being a growing
phenomena, it only makes sense if Kpop would be influenced by one of the most successful
music industries in the world. Concepts act as a huge differentiation between American pop
artists and Korean pop artists. Concepts are a cultural tradition in Kpop industries, groups will
adopt a theme when promoting their singles. A concept can be in ranges anywhere from love,
youth, partying, or secret agents. Whichever concept is chosen, the music, lyrics, choreography,
and clothes all link with the theme.
Popular Korean music does not just consist of pop but other genres such as; hip-hop,
indie, rock, and many more. Hip-hop has a huge position when discussing idol music in Korea
but is
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guilty of appropriating culture, especially black culture. Cultural appropriation is taking an
element of another culture for your own use and leaving the responsibility of conveying that
culture and the meanings behind. According to a native Korean ethnomusicology, Stephanie
Choi explained that, “the people of the culture they use become voiceless, they lost their voice to
properly convey the culture, meaning, or values of their own cultures” (Tucci, 7), cultural
appropriation can come in small cases, such as one member of the group sporting cornrows and
bandanas. Cultural appropriation keeps happening due to the fact that Kpop entertainment looks
up to American pop cultural, which mainly includes Hip-hop music. Most of the stereotypes
taking place in Korean music are those portrayed in American media, it is not something they
undergo in their actual life but imitate as they see. Kpop is the same way however, international
fans see the whole ‘Korean nation’ through Kpop just like Koreans see the ‘American nation’
through American mass media.
Although, Kpop is growing rapidly in America, the fan base cannot compete with the
fanbase in Korea. America’s fan base mainly consist of teenage girls, while those in Korea
consist of young adults and professionals who can simply invest income in the genre. Choi points
out that, “when it comes to international fans, it’s not even American fans in general that make
up the majority. It’s Japanese fans” ( Tucci, 10), so it makes sense for Kpop to focus their
attention more on that market, which is why Kpop artist will usually come out with Japanese
releases. Japanese Cultural appropriation is highly avoided in Kpop because of Japan’s majority
role in the international fanbase.
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Kpop still remains to be praised in America, even though the not so great side of Kpop is
clear to the public. According to statistics, “The Americas had 7.58 million fans, a staggering
182 percent from 2014 to 2015, as well as a 12 percent increase in the number of fan clubs to
804” (Tucci, 12), people have continued to grow a liking to the Kpop culture, so by 2020 the
amount of fans will be doubled the fans from year 2015, maybe even more. Korean music has
fantastic music videos, which captures the attention from international countries. Kpop group
BTS sold out both of their concerts in just four minutes, this here is a huge accomplishment not
only for their company, BigHit Entertainment, but also for the Kpop industry. American artist
have started to add dances to their videos because of the popularity influence in Kpop.
Kpop has made a huge impact on the music industries all around the world, with their
beautiful music videos, choreography, concepts, and popularity. Although most listeners do not
understand Korean, they enjoy the genre and devote their time supporting their idols. This says a
lot, not only to the Korean music industry but to how evolutionary music is becoming. People are
becoming more open to different kinds of cultures, which is amazing. Kpop has touched the
hearts of many and influences music around the globe. Kpop is soon going to become as popular
as American media and all of the world will witness the great rise of the Kpop genre. Yes, one
song is all it took to push Kpop in the right direction, the push towards dominating the music

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