We have probably all noticed these things in the past decade: Kpop has been everywhere; Kdrama has been the topic of many conversations; Korean beauty products have climbed up the popularity ladder. This phenomenon is called Hallyu (Korean wave), and the wave has sensationally broken on the shores of global pop culture. Kpop is very unique in terms of its style, content, performance, and entertainment structure, making it undoubtedly remarkably influential. Let’s have a look at what have led Kpop to its outstanding success:
- DEBUT PREPARATION
Although idols look very lighthearted on stage, they often tear up with a mention of their trainee days. Many of them are scouted by agents on the streets, and from there they have to be professionally trained for between 6 months to 6 years (with exceptions like BIGBANG’s G-Dragon who was trained for 11 years and EXO’s Chen who was trained for only 3 months!). For up to 5 days a week, they have to take dancing, vocal singing, acting, musical instruments, martial arts, manners, and language classes.
- MARKET COMPETITION
Just in 2015, 96 idol groups debuted in South Korea. With more than 50 entertainment agencies, competition is very fierce, but the fiercer the competition, the more creative and advanced Kpop becomes! On top of that, there are 3 main free broadcast channels in South Korea, offering various opportunities for idols to promote themselves. And of course, they are all well trained to be act sophisticated, with character, and most importantly, very talented on screen.
- ADVERTISING AND PR
Idol groups are strongly promoted, even before their debut. Some agencies even release a series of mystery-solving videos so fans can decode and receive posters of their idols-to-be. Agencies build the idol groups to suit the taste of the audience, whatever will go viral, they will strive to bring it to life. Plus, Kpop targets the whole world as its audience, and to create resonance, songs often include a few lines of English lyrics, and repeating catchy Korean words. (See how many English words and phrases you can spot in this song!: https://youtu.be/RuqaVryDRd0)
- LOCAL MEDIA
Abundant in media channels, information spreads all over South Korea in no time. Koreans do not need to reach out and explore Kpop, Kpop reaches out to them through various occasions. Idols are given many opportunities to build up their character and image, such as being guests at music programs, variety shows, radio programs, as well as having fan meetings, school performances, and charity events. So it is rather hard to not know about the popular idols or songs, they are everywhere!
It would be quite difficult to find another fandom as organized and as cooperative as Kpop fandoms. Each idol group has their own fan club, and some things that they do are print banners for every fan to hold up during concerts, make sure everyone knows the chant to songs (where they yell some of the lyrics during idols’ performances), and organize charity events in the name of their idols. Each fandom also has its own color, and fans will be waving glow sticks in that color during concets to create what they call a ‘(color) sea’. Bonding with their idols in such interactive ways, Kpop idol groups have been supported to grow healthy and strong.