The multi-billion dollar music industry is known as “K-pop,” which stands for “Korean pop.” It is well-liked not only in South Korea but also everywhere else in the world. Among the most prosperous bands in the music business are K-pop groups like BTS, who became the first Korean act to have an album debut at number one on the UK charts.
Within a few hours after releasing a video on YouTube, artists can amass millions of views. With 3.8 billion views to date, Psy’s Gangnam Style is currently the seventh most-watched video on the streaming service.
According to a survey, BTS is actually to blame for one in every 13 visitors to South Korea. What exactly is the K-pop craze about, and why is success in this field such a big deal?
Where does K-pop originate?
In the 1990s, K-pop emerged in South Korea as a fusion of Western and Asian music. It combines R&B, pop, hip-hop, and rap components in both the music and the way the artists are dressed. It is renowned for both its flawless production and its fantastic, edgy music videos.
The stunning costumes and flawlessly timed dance routines are also highly striking. “These larger-than-life graphics allow fans who may not speak the language to still enjoy the song,” says Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
K-pop needed to spread outside of Korea in order to become a popular genre. It finally made a breakthrough in 2002 when a young female performer by the name of BoA topped the charts in both Japan and Korea. As a result, K-pop gradually expanded to the rest of the world and throughout Asia. The K-pop market is now worth billions of dollars, and acts are gaining popularity all over the world.
In South Korea, there is even a government department devoted to K-pop, which offers the musical genre governmental backing due to its positive cultural and economic impacts on the nation. Since Psy’s Gangnam Style stormed the internet in 2012, the genre has become even more well-known.
How does one become a K-pop celebrity?
A person needs to get signed as a trainee by a major K-pop label in order to become a K-pop star. But many aspiring stars begin their journeys at a very young age in order to get to this position.
Before enrolling at specific schools, pupils who aspire to follow in the footsteps of their K-pop heroes may first take singing and dancing lessons. After being accepted by a label, the aspirants might choose to work as solo artists or as a member of a larger group. But being a K-pop star is not a goal for the weak-willed. The market is fiercely competitive.
A K-pop school in South Korea with about 1,000 students was visited by Newsround. Only about 40 to 50 of those students will succeed in pursuing professions in the sector.
The physical training wasn’t the hardest part for me, according to an iKON member who spoke to Newsround. “The mental aspect of it was wondering, “Will I Ever Make It?” The hardest part is not knowing that.” Others may train for years without quite realizing their dream. Some hopefuls may train for up to 10 years before they finally break through in the profession.
How does becoming a K-pop star feel?
Newsround went to meet New Kidd, a brand-new K-pop group that has only recently made its debut in South Korea with its new album.
Members of the group, including the group’s youngest member (referred to as a “maknae” in K-pop groups), who is only 15 years old, had to leave their homes and families behind in order to train together. “I genuinely miss my family sometimes,” he admits. “I feel like I have to fulfill my dream and make them proud,” she said.
A group member explains that everyone in the group follows a stringent diet and exercise regimen. He explains, “It’s basically salads, poultry, and fruits.” For fitness, we lift weights, skip, and perform press-ups.
The guys are having a blast despite being away from home and having to follow certain restrictions. “I feel like I’ve found family in my bandmates because we practice together and live together. Every time I’m with them, I’m incredibly delighted.”