The “Still” Rising of K-Pop Culture

The Korean Wave also known as Hallyu(한류) Wave is a popular term to describe the spread of Korean culture to the world (especially the neighbouring country). It happens when the government start to acknowledged and then funding the entertainment industry (drama, film, and music) more, predicted that the sector will increase the economic development for the country. I’m sure this is a common term especially for students studying cultural studies in their university, since this phenomenon is really unique and pretty much successful despite it has been started long ago since the 1990s and still going on.

I have to say that I’am one of those people that got affected by the infectious cultural product. I don’t know precisely when is my first encounter with K-pop, but I remember it when I was sitting at the end-year of elementary school (about the year 2004), my sister usually played songs by Kang Ta, Shinhwa, and BoA (some of popular the artists back then) after she got back home from college, she even have lots of their albums organised neatly at her desk and her drawer (I don’t know how she knew this kind of things, guess it might be the magazine). I quite like it the first time I heard it and some of them is catchy, though I’m not listening it as a hobby (To be honest, I’m not that particularly interested in music back then, my only concern in life as a kid is only playing outside and PlayStation).

That year 2004 is not the year I only encountered K-pop music, but also the drama. During the holiday semester, my sister played the Korean drama Full House at the living room every day in the morning. Just the three of us-me, my sister, and my mother-enthusiastically watched it while eating and slurping cup of hot noodles. The main stars are Rain and Song Hye-Kyo, I forgot what’s the drama all about but what I remember is the two main characters (who are not a couple) have no other choice but to live together in the same house because of an unfortunate event. As a kid, I’m not that concerned about the narrative, I only like the tension that always happen between the two characters which is the funny part of the series. I can say though that K-drama entertains.

2008 is the year I got fascinated in K-pop. And it’s also because of my sister with the help of the famous-infamous website: Youtube (I dare to say that this website is one of the main catalyst of this Korean Wave working more effective). She watched this many Korean Reality Shows that are really funny, from X-man, Star King, to Star Golden Bell. Those three reality shows are really creative and I was laughing really hard by their different style of humour and games. In addition to gain more viewers, for marketing strategy, and for the sake of excitement, all of the show usually feature popular artists, especially the one that have just debuted be it in music, television, or other entertainments.

From the reality shows that I watched, I got curious with the guest artists that were invited to the shows. That’s when I dig up more to K-pop music, starts to discover the other and listening it (all because of Youtube). And not long after that, a boy-group named Super Junior released its single called Sorry Sorry and a girl-group named Girls Generation (SNSD) released its single called Gee in 2009, it is also posted in Youtube. The song is quite catchy for a 2009 music, it’s packed with dance moves and that ‘thing’ that I can’t describe makes you want to go back and watch it again. For me, those two are the prior turning point of K-pop growing fast (not to mention Korean Reality Show Running Man (2010). The emphasis to the turning point would be Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby” at 2012 and the third would be BTS’ “Dope” at 2015).

Both K-pop music and drama is growing fast after the year. But the ones that got me interested is the music. K-pop music is not your average pop music like the western and it’s not that unorthodox like J-pop’s. The difference comes from the entertainment industry, where they invest not only in producing of the music, but they also invest big in the artists. When it comes to K-pop group, before their first debut, the artists (or trainee) have to be trained really hard by the management. I don’t know if this is true but from what I see they will get quarantined for some time to train their talents from singing to dancing. Not just the artists, but visual-aesthetic is included at their top-list priority as the art of entertainment. Hence, you can see why most of K-pop videos are a stellar pop performance ever, visually eye-candy and not to wonder why they sometimes regarded as fashion icons.

The other great things about K-pop is they change their style of music according to the current pop music and sometimes they incorporate it with their style of music into something new and listenable to every one. They mix their music with EDM (f(x)’s 4 “Walls”), fuse it with J-pop (GFRIEND’s “Rough”), American Hip-Hop (Agust D’s “Agust D”), and even debuted in America (CL’s “Lifted”).

At the end, Korea is still waving their culture to the world with their impressive entertainments, and the wave keeps getting better and better.