they call it “korean wave“The South Korean cultural wave that has been hitting the West for several years and is now rising like a tsunami. You know squid gameThe Netflix series watched by 111 million viewers in one month? It’s just the most recent (albeit interesting) example of a file Entertainment who speaks more and more Korean. If you miss what it is, hold on well, because it’s a great ride.
It all started with exporting abroad from K-popIt is a musical genre that combines traditional K-pop, American rap, metal and dance, and features impressive choreography. thanks for the Youtube And on social networks there was a global spread of this genre, despite the obstacle posed by an unknown language. So much so that today BTS are the most listened to group on Spotify, most followed on Instagram, most engaged on Twitter with more than 100 billion views on YouTube.
The “K-pop subcultureHe gave us a definition Angela PulverentiYouTube channel content creator “Italian ARMY” (short for “Adorabile Representative MC for Youth,” but it also means “army,” BTS’s army or the band’s fans around the world): “K-pops are acting like one social communication United with a passion for the South Korean cultural galaxy. via social media (Twitter in testa) and sites (which collect the legacy of old online forums) They share opinions and experiences Associated with their favorite band, but not only: there are those who offer Korean language courses and those who offer their knowledge of the language for translation drama (TV series) and songs. During the pandemic, the military provided psychological support to the masses and made many donations to those in need. ”
A phenomenon whose roots go back more than twenty years.
In the late ’90s, Korea found itself forced to fill the void left by him Seo Taiji and the boys, the group that first proposed a mixture of hip-hop, heavy metal and dance, with lyrics highly critical of the society from which K-pop music arose. Their most famous single, in arayoIt topped the national charts for 17 weeks, a record and went down in history as the first-ever K-pop song. The life of the band was short, but the fashion was already launched and it was decided to invest in this segment. The The Big Three, three major Korean entertainment agencies (SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment) whose goal has been, and remains, to create new K-pop stars (“idols”) through auditions, singing, dancing, and acting. Upstream was a specific strategy by the Seoul government to attract sympathy to the country by exporting a means of entertainment that proved to be effective.
It has succeeded. In Italy, starting in the early 2000s, K-pop entered the already booming trend of Japanese entertainment, adding new content and opening a space in the hearts of fans: “Since I was a girl I loved Asian culture – Veronica tells us, who in my spare time , were her fans (amateur subtitles) for drama – my passion for Japanese manga and anime (comics and animation) guided me, and later I became interested in Korean drama; the soundtrack was almost always composed by K-pop groups. Discover a colorful world, always happy.”
Eight years after their debut, BTS has gained fans all over the world and made K-pop famous. But who are the members of the army?? enumeration Completed in 2020 Both in Italy and globally, it shows who makes up the big BTS community.
Few Numbers: The survey answered more 400,000 people in more than 100 countries. It turns out that 87% of fans are girls and the 93% are under 30 years old (Half of them are teenagers). Then there is a surprising fact: in the ranking of countries where BTS is listened to and followed, only South Korea ranks. in ninth place 3.7% of those interviewed, while on the platform there are Indonesia (20% of those interviewed), Mexico (10.6%) and the United States (8.4%). Moreover In Italy, from a more modest sample of 4,000 fans, It turns out that Audience of almost all women under 30 (percentages over 90%).
Angela explains that most of the fans are girls, and some are quite young, which should come as no surprise. Different prejudices weigh on K-pop groups, including being a petty boy band and making pop music. Nothing is more wrong if we think of BTS. They know it well in Korea, which is why there are those who hate and even fear them.”
Transsexual artists to “idol”
For Angela, “BTS was spot on.”Anomaly in K-pop. At the age of 16, Kim Nan-joon, the leader of the group, called himself Rap Monster and wrote texts about Nietzsche, youthful anxiety, and psychological problems. He was believed in by Bang Si Hyuk, CEO of a modest record company, Bighit Entertainment. His idea was to start a group of idols to start a K-pop group, considering it a more profitable type of rap. Nan Joon and his buddies opposed the idea of not being able to write lyrics and not being free to do whatever they wanted, so a compromise was made that would allow BTS to be songwriters, while respecting the canons of style and aesthetics of K-pop. The result was a barrage of criticism.”
On the one hand, there was the rap world who accused Nan Joon of selling himself to a commercial genre, and on the other hand, K-pop fans deemed him unattractive and lacking style and poise. A Bang Si-hyuk, who discovered and launched her, considered him crazy because they invested in a similar project. As if that It wasn’t enough, they weren’t able to appear on TV.”
The fault in this case was not their fault: in South Korea, as in many other countries, there is an illegal practice known as “widespread”.Bio“: You pay a radio or TV station to air a product or concede space. For a budding artist, it means not rewarding them for talent, but for what they paid.
“BTS has not only never accepted this practice, but has denounced it many times, even recently.” This is what happened during the 2019 Asian Music Awards, when one of the band’s members, Jin, expressed his desire to “Live in a world where every artist and every song is given the recognition they deserve“Given that in the past, one of the famous Big Three – SM Entertainment, was investigated for corruption – it’s not hard to imagine who these words might have been directed at.
Finding themselves marginalized by national television, they decided to produce the programs themselves and upload them to YouTube, a medium that was already making K-pop fortunes on a global scale. It was a good choice, which Explains the huge success of BTS abroad, not in Korea. It was international fans who made them famous in their home country. On the other hand, the Korean media tried not to glorify their success: they came out of nowhere, no major agency was involved in their rise and no one understood how they did it.”
The Seoul Tragedy and the Blacklist
The Korean media system wasn’t the only archenemy of BTS. In 2017, Nan-joon and his partners ended up in Government blacklist driven by park geun hye. The reason is linked to one of the saddest tragedies in modern Korean history.
On April 16, 2014, the ferry Sewol carrying 476 passengers, mostly high school students on a school trip, sank in the Yellow Sea causing 304 people died. According to the reconstructions that took place in the aftermath of the tragedy, it turned out that the disaster was caused by series of neglect Both the second man in command and the crew. As if that wasn’t enough, the Coast Guard rescue wasn’t quick.
The line of the government immediately was a linecover up. Following prominent personalities from the entertainment world They did not lack their support to the families of the victims. The South Korean CEO’s response was to blacklist those who worked to remember the tragedy. The list was released in 2018, and included the names More than 9000 artists who were excluded from state funding for criticizing President Park Geun-hye’s work. They included BTS, songwriters, spring dayAnd Dedicated to the dead of Seoul.
“In Korea, there is this culture where the stars of the show don’t usually deal with political issues – Angela explains – everyone tends to be interested in their own field of expertise, and the roles remain distinct. It is a legacy of the autocratic past.” (Referring to the nearly twenty years of General Park government Chung Hee, between 1961 and 1979).
At home, BTS made themselves hated, but also loved. Their social commitment has brought them loyal enemies and supporters. But even those who hate them can no longer do without it: alone They generate $3.6 billion in revenue per year in the Korean economy and hundreds of thousands of tourists go to Korea just to watch their concerts.”
Needless to say, no one gave more than madness to Bang Si-huyk. Today his small agency changed its name to hippie It became one of the richest and most important in the world. Last year, Ithaca Holdings, the US agency of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, was also listed. Meanwhile, BTS’s three albums have been ranked #1 on the US bestseller list three times, a record held by the Beatles. The Korean Wave is increasingly becoming a tsunami.
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