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K-pop: Popular Korean Music Making Waves

— by Parmita Borah | Bangalore
The west is where it had its inception, but pop music and pop culture soon established its dominion over the whole world in a short span of time. The international monoculture that surged as a result of Pop influence has seen the ascendency of American and British music industries, but with advance of technology and media, countries soon started following their own forms of pop music, in many cases, producing local versions of global trends and assimilating local characteristics. K-pop is one such genre that seems to be gaining popularity across the globe by the hour. An abbreviation for Korean Pop or Korean Popular music, the genre consists of electropop, hip hop, pop, rock, and R&B music. 

K-pop originated in South Korea and in addition to making South Korea's music industry a viable one, K-pop has emerged as a popular subculture among teenagers and young adults around the world. K-pop’s popularity greatly thrives on the internet and social media. With presence of artists and bands on Facebook fan pages, iTunes, Twitter profiles, and YouTube, the ability of K-pop to reach a global audience via Internet is driving a paradigm shift in the exposure and popularity of the genre. 

K-pop grew into prominence with the debut of Seo Tai-ji Boys in 1992. Popular girl bands and boy bands formed and gained widespread acceptance with the founding of South Korea's largest talent agency, S.M. Entertainment, in 1995 by Korean entrepreneur Lee Soo Man. Groups such as, S.E.S., Fin.K.L, H.O.T, Sechs Kies, G.o.d. and Shinhwa had huge success in the 1990s. During this period was the emergence of hip hop and R&B music in Korea, leading to the success of artists including Drunken Tiger. The late 90s saw the emergence of few other talent agencies YG Entertainment, DSP Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment that produced talent as quickly as the public could consume it. 

K-pop has had a steady growth in foreign markets outside of Asia, most notable in the United States with korean bands beginning tour with the current faces of English Pop like Jonas Brothers. In 2001, Kim Bum Soo became the first Korean singer to be placed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart with his single, "Hello Goodbye Hello". K-pop’s popularity has witnessed a rise in Canada and Australia as well. As a thumb rule of pop music, K-pop too is represented by young artists. As performers, they assimilate high style quotient, trendy looks and dance skills and the ability to synthesize the music of the moment of the West whether it is done as Korean rap, Korean soul, Korean rhythm and blues, or Korean middle of the road music. 

The popularity of contemporary Korean music and pop stars has climbed such heights that Asians have designated a word to reflect this fact. Hallyu, or Korean Wave, is the word noting how influential Korean culture has become in Asia. 


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