Table of Contents
- The Social Media Presence of K-Pop Idols on Twitter
- Creating K-Pop Idols
- K-Pop's Global Fanbase
In this revolutionary era of technology, global media that originates from foreign countries are able to reach mass populations of people they could not before. Fanbases can consist of millions of people from dozens of countries that don’t even speak the same language. The recent media boom around Kpop is a prime example. K-pop, an abbreviation for Korean pop music, is a unique genre of music that includes electronic, pop, R&B, and hip-hop music. This popular genre of music originated in South Korea and began to take shape in the early 1990s. The fascinating part about K-pop is its rising popularity not only in the United States, but internationally. This genre of Korean music has made its mark, creating a powerful fanbase of millions worldwide. By analyzing the rise in popularity of the K-pop boy band, BTS, and the K-pop girl band, KARA, this paper will demonstrate why K-pop merits further recognition/analysis.
The Social Media Presence of K-Pop Idols on Twitter
Korean pop music deserves further analysis due to the incredible effectiveness of how the industry maintains an engaging presence on social media. Boy bands such as BTS have captured the attention of fans using a data-driven approach to create a loyal audience. This is exhibited by their distinctive presence on the social media site, Twitter. BTS has an entire Twitter account (@BTS_ Billboard) dedicated to helping them rise on Billboard charts. This account is managed by a group of seven administrators who update and run the account on a daily basis. According to Forbes, “each administrator is in a different time zone so that they can cover all hours of the day, dividing the days into hours-long shifts.” When new music is released by BTS, the administrators are responsible for motivating fans to stream and purchase the music. Additionally, most of their efforts are centered around maintaining social media engagement with their fanbase. They write promotional posts on BTS on Twitter daily to remind their followers to encourage and support them. The higher the engagement they obtain, the more opportunity they possess to grow BTS’s reach and influence.
BTS’s presence on Twitter has proven the irrefutable benefits of engaging with fans through social media. The famous pop group has had some of the most engaging tweets on Twitter in the past couple of years. According to Digital Trends, “the most liked tweet of 2018 was a BTS tweet of the also popular “#InMyFeelingsChallenge,” which copies the dance from a song by rapper Drake. The video generated almost 1.7 million likes.” Even if the Twitter “likes” were generated by people who were unfamiliar with BTS, the K-pop group has now gained new attention they did not have before. In addition to having the most liked tweet of 2018, Twitter’s data displays that BTS was the most tweeted global celebrity in 2017. BTS surpassed some of the most successful musicians in America in this award, which is impressive given that the group emerged only in 2013. This information validates that BTS’s approach to managing social media platforms (such as Twitter) has helped them to sustain a loyal fanbase by perpetuating a consistent online presence.
Creating K-Pop Idols
Additionally, K-pop deserves further recognition due to how it produces idols for the world to look up to. Creating an “idol group” is one of the staples of Korean pop culture. To join a K-pop group such as KARA, girls in South Korea practice at training centers in hopes of achieving their dreams. Def Dance Skool (also known as K-pop College) is one of the upscale training centers for aspiring K-pop stars. At this school, young women endure intense training, dieting, and may even undergo plastic surgery. The level of commitment that is expected of these aspiring stars is appalling. According to Broadly, the girls are “weighed every morning and night, the number reported to a master trainer each time, and their menus will be controlled” accordingly. Some of their dieting plans are influenced by the K-pop stars themselves. For instance, KARA’s former member Nicole tried the Danish diet to lose weight. The diet restricted her to consume fewer than 600 calories in a day for 13 days. Her weight loss was staggering, which caused others to follow her fad diet, including the aspiring stars.
Controversial Aspects of K-Pop Camps
K-pop camps have caused some controversy around the world when cultures possess different viewpoints, due to how intensely the girls are trained in both physical and performance categories. One of the most controversial aspects of K-pop camps is how much emphasis is placed on the girls’ looks. For example, many women and young teens might undergo plastic surgery to achieve an appearance defined as “perfect” by society, which in South Korea includes big eyes and a high nose bridge. In South Korea compared to Western cultures, there is not as big of a stigma attached to plastic surgery because they value having a positive public appearance. K-pop culture focuses on creating a furnished product that has been molded into something exemplary. Physical appearance is one of the utmost important features of being a K-pop star. In fact, some of the aspiring stars will even get a loan from a record label to afford plastic surgery. The loan can cover up to fifty percent of the cost, but the women will have to pay it back. According to Broadly, “the emphasis on perfect looks began in the 1970s, when the K-pop industry was in its infancy. Back then, a girl could succeed on good looks alone.” This demonstrates just how much K-pop has influenced the need to have a charming appearance in their fans worldwide. The emphasis placed on attractiveness is held to such a high standard that girls are willing to go under the knife without any guarantee of becoming successful as a real K-pop star.
K-Pop's Global Fanbase
Lastly, K-pop deserves further recognition because of how it has globalized a loyal fanbase. The genre of music originated in South Korea but has managed to sustain devoted fans worldwide. Continents such as South America, Europe, and North America have contributed to K-pop’s growing popularity by devoting unmatched support to bands such as BTS and KARA. Large masses of fans have been known to congregate and carry out projects that vary in nature. For instance, fanbases have contributed to philanthropic causes by donating money to charities and orphanages supported by K-pop bands. SJ Charities, B.A.P.’s Helping Hands, and UNICEF are all charities that have received significant donations within the past few years. BTS fans from all over the world helped to raise money and awareness for UNICEF by participating in an online campaign. The campaign was run on Twitter, known as “#RoarForChange.” According to UNICEF, “for each public post, like, or share on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that includes “#RoarForChange” between May 3rd to 25th in 2018, Star Wars: Force for Change U.S. will donate $1 to UNICEF USA, up to $1 million.” Amazingly, the fans of BTS were able to reach the goal of $1 million in just a few hours. This exemplifies how supportive and devoted K-pop fans are to their musical idols and to helping others.
K-pop is a fascinating genre of music that has created its own co-culture of fan bases globally. The genre of music has made an impact on millions of peoples’ lives. Furthermore, K-pop bands have undoubtedly made a lasting impact on the music industry, receiving worldwide recognition at the top of famous music charts. Through the in-depth exploration of the operations and influence of K-pop bands such as BTS and KARA, this essay demonstrated why K-pop deserves more recognition. BTS and KARA have proven the massive efficiency of social media campaigns in reaching large populations. These two bands have instigated global discussion of societal issues. Lastly, these bands have portrayed the cross-cultural unity that can occur through a multicultural fanbase, and the positive effects it can have on furthering charitable causes. K-pop truly deserves more recognition due to the revolution of worldwide connection they have triggered through global media.