The world has many cultures trending nowadays, most of them help on shaping “the world”, what I mean is that many of these culture flow in our lives and bring impacts to our society, maybe also economic markets. One in that many cultures are becoming more and more popular, it’s Korea pop culture. It’s a pop culture that started in Korea and in 2010, it’s popularity started to affect the whole of Asia, and based on Google’s research data, anything about k-pop is searched in 2012 is 3 times more compared to 2010, and don’t forget, that was just in two years, at that grow rate, k-pop has growth in to a trend culture and many people know this culture. But back to the question, why is k-pop so popular that can affect the world, this is a question many people wonder about and this is what we will be talking about in this essay.
On December 18, the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) released a report stating that for the period of 2014 through 2023, BTS’s economic impact will reach an estimated total of 56.2 trillion won (approximately $49.8 billion). That is a big part of Korea’s economy which means that the economy affects of Kpop is increasing as its social effect on social media has widely influence teenagers1. As in 2019, BTS break 3 Guinness world records2 and becomes the leader of Kpop that bring the industry into a new level with challenges from the world, where most of the teenagers are their fans. As the research in Korea, BTS now worth about 4.1 trillion won8.
But back to the question, all the result that have been mentioned are mostly achieved by teenagers, so why can the affect mainly work on teenagers but not elderlies. This doesn’t mean that their music cannot be loved by elderlies, but as the research on Koreaboo has shown that 72.5% of SEVENTEEN’s concert audience is comprised of teenagers (aged 10-19), the teenagers are mainly affected3.
The first point that we need to mention is their music style, Kpop usually have a catchy melody made with many different kinds of instruments or even electronic music type of instruments, the reason for using many kinds of instruments is because they want to create a song that is really special and unique, such that people will have a clear image on the group and possibly have some positive feelings to the group. A unique and catchy song is very important to a group is because according to Asianjunkie, there are 99 Kpop groups debut in 20155 and only the top a few groups manage to stay. The reason why is because the songs are not catchy enough for people to recognize them. So a catchy song one of the reasons why some groups are really good at getting teenagers to love them because of the song gives them a clear and positive image and teenagers are very easily attracted by songs that they like. Also, if we compare western music with Kpop music, you will find some similar thing and something different, like both pieces of music, features a strong music style with electronic music and they will put a heavy beat on the rap part like Ariana Grande’s “7 Ring” and BTS’s “Mic Drop”, both songs have a strong and heavy beat, but the way they construct the songs are different, Mic drop beat is much faster than 7 Ring’s beat, also Mic drop use more electronic music but 7 Ring focus on Ariana vocal, so both of them have something key theme but the way they created the song is different. But the song is just the first step since they music style changes as time past by, there are a lot more reason that keeps teenagers as their fan even if their music change.
The second reason is that Kpop has one of the best or most recognition visual face. And yes not just based on the simple definition of beauty, because different people have their own definition on beauty, but K pop Idols does have some visual that most of the people in Asia or even most of the teenagers would like. Now no one simply can’t tell why do most of them look so visually-outstanding, but I can give you some numbers to prove that they are looking up to most of the people’s aesthetic, In 2018, TC Candler’s world 100 handsome and beautiful face ranking, 21 out of the 100 are Kpop idol, BTS’s idol V and Jung Kook is even rank as no.5 and no.2 as the top visual of Kpop4. That means that either they are really that handsome to everyone or their main target teenagers really like their visual. But there is always one thing that is the same for everyone, you will always something or someone that look better for your definition of beauty, and if they can rank so high on the list, the means that they visual is persuasive to most of the people, in other word, teenagers, which is very easy on getting attracted by beautiful thing, Kpop idol’s visual would most likely be something they like. That is how they get so many teenagers to love them.
One of the important factors, would be the choreography, Kpop has many different of dancing style, the style follows the song’s theme, if it’s a hip hop song, the choreography becomes more hip hop feeling, if the song is a sad theme, the choreography becomes more elegant, and the choreography is usually made by choreographers from either their company or some world-class dancers, like Lia Kim as one of the best popping dancers in the world and also 1M dance studio. So why is the choreography so attractive to teengers? The answer is same as the definition of beauty, people like something that looks cool, if the choreography is beautiful and the movement of the dance is hard to dance and looks cool, people will be attracted, it’s the purpose of the choreography, to be eye catching. Also the another reason might also be because people love to challenge themself. For example, the “IDOL challenge” was a challenge that need people to dance to the song IDOL, and many people really dance to the challenge, it also started a big trend in Philippines, that has shown that trend and dance does influence teenagers but also get them to be interested to Kpop. dancing can also make dancers be interested in kpop because as a dancer, you will always to learn some new choreography that you like, one thing that is so special about Kpop is that they produce a lot of songs in one year, TWICE’s producers had produce 4 song for TWICE in 2017 and they also make 5 songs in 2018, and each time there is a choreography following the songs, that means that Kpop can produce a lot of choreography for the dancers and there is a very high chance that they can create some choreography that is really cool and love by the dancer.
Another factor that will affect Kpop popularity will be the marketing strategy of the company. The album and the promotion of each comeback are done by the company, company have their own ways to promote their idol, most of their use social media because it’s very efficient and less money needed. The marketing strategy of JYP is that they promote their album to Korean because their main market is Korean, so most of their promotion are in Korea. However, the international market is also important to the growth of Kpop so they started to invested on the global market. A successful example will be TWICE, their popularity in Japan is the highest out of all Kpop groups, the factors of their popularity will be one of the marketing strategy JYP used will he form TWICE, there are 3 Japanese member in TWICE which caught Japanese people attention because usually people care more about people that are from their country, TWICE is a example of this marketing strategy, using more nationality to caught more people’s attention and gain success and popularity around teenagers. Prove to their popularity in Japan will be their demo tour, TWICE sold out all five dates of their tour in just one minute as 210,000 tickets6. This brings the company $18 million in their revenue7. So adding more nationality into the group is a common marketing strategy for Kpop companies already. Another marketing strategy that company will use will be music style that their target audience like, for example, BTS producer Hip hop style type of song to attract American teenagers, because American teenagers love Hip Hop style, so they create music base on the target audience as well as they will make english songs because most of the people in this world don’t know korean so they created some english version of their songs that more people will understand the mean of the song and like them more. Another strategy that Kpop idol used to increase their popularity is that they will collaborate with western singers like nicki minaj and Dua Lipa, not much group will do this because the time and recourse that they need is a lot, so right now only BTS and Blackpink collaborate with western singers, but the effect of collaborating with western singers are positive, many western teenagers love nicki minaj and her collaboration with BTS help teenagers to also know BTS in the process, which is one of the strategy that help teenagers to know about Kpop.
One of the marketing strategy that they use is adding additional gift in the album. For example, every TWICE album have a few cards with random members on it, and you will get the members that you like the most if you are lucky enough, this kind of cards giving strategy can led to a higher album sales since people want the cards with their favorite member on it as a collection. But cards giving is just one of the marketing strategy they used, it’s not even the most successful one, the most successful strategy they used to boost the album sales and increase popularity will be giving fans meeting tickets randomly, now this fans meeting tickets are really rare and very hard to get, because there is only 100 tickets in over 500,000 albums which mean that the chance that you can get one is 0.02%, but the tickets are still consider worthy because the tickets allow you to meeting every member of TWICE and see them in person, the chance that you can meet them that closely and have an interaction with TWICE without fan meeting tickets is almost 0%, and groups will disband one day and you may never see them again. Due to the time limit and the popularity of the group, the fans meeting tickets are what people really want as they buy the album. This tickets make people want to buy more album and end up increasing the album sales and popularity of the idol.
Also one more thing that can attract teenagers should be the effort idol put into their stage and their personality. The meaning of effort is that they will do their best in every stage performance and the effort they put on practice the dance and sing. Because usually the debuted idols will have to be trained for a long time in order to have be good enough to debut and make stage performance, Kpop stage require idol to sing and dance as the same time and some choreography are really hard to dance, even harder when they have to sing while dancing it. So they have about 4 to 10 years of training to do before their debut. The process of becoming an idol is really long and tough, a lot of people fail to become an idol because they can’t embrace the pain. Base on the reality show “sixteen”, a trainee have to train for 10 hours a day just for dancing and learning, they also have to do singing training as well, so they won’t sleep much so that they can practice, and even after they debut they will have to work as hard as they can on the stage. The effort does affect people’s image on the idol and most likely the hard working image since everyone like a hard working person.
Also, Kpop idol are funny and having different personalities, they have different social media to stay in contact with their fan like posting their social life and funny moments on instagram to show a image that they are human that have flesh and they are just like others, which can let people relate themselves. And yes, Kpop idols are relatable, that give teenagers a sense of belonging, and the sense of belonging is exactly what teenagers want, they want to be a part of something, they want to be as good as someone, and Kpop idols can give them a sense of belonging. Also reality show is an important way for the idols to show their personality, because they can be their true self on the show, they don’t have to hide anything like they do in public, so reality show can show people the interacting personality of idols and possibly get teenagers to love them.
The conclusion for the topic will be the point that have just been mentioned, the song style, the choreography, the stage effort and the personality. All of these is connected to what teenagers wants, the sense of belonging, the beauty that everyone like, the trend that everyone do, and the role model that they want to be. Those can be found in Kpop and that is why Kpop can become a culture that teenagers love.
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