Welcome to the energetic, catchy, family-friendly world of South Korean music-better referred to as Okay-pop. Its best-known artists possibly the boy band BTS, nominated in three completely different classes at tonight’s Grammy Awards, and the most-listened-to group in Spotify historical past.
UCLA professor Suk-Younger Kim, who has written concerning the Okay-pop phenomenon, mentioned, “It is far more than music. It’s a whole leisure that comes with choreography, vogue, life-style.
“We used to have very outstanding boy bands and lady teams, equivalent to New Youngsters on the Block, Spice Ladies, One Path. I feel Okay-pop actually hits type of a vacuum that Western pop cultural developments left behind,” she mentioned.
“Sunday Morning” visited the tenth annual KCON conference in Los Angeles, an expo devoted to Korean popular culture. In all places you look, you see followers faithfully re-creating their idols’ dances.
Pogue requested Kevin Woo, “What are the chances they’d have the ability to recite each lyric, do each dance transfer?”
“Hundred p.c,” Woo replied. “They understand it higher than I do!”
Woo is a Okay-pop star (a Okay-pop idol, to make use of the technical time period) who spent 9 years in a bunch referred to as UKISS. “Generally it will get harmful at Okay-pop live shows, as a result of they’re so passionate,” Woo mentioned.
All profitable bands have followers. However in Okay-pop, the fan-to-idol relationship is extra reciprocal. Kim mentioned, “Followers are extraordinarily devoted, however in addition they anticipate lots in return from [an] idol.”
In response to the band INI, a pop idol by no means declines a fan interplay.
Pogue requested, “Is there ever a time when you do not need a selfie? Like, if you’re making an attempt to buy or see a film?”
“No,” replied one INI member. “Selfies are, like, an excellent alternative for us to speak with our followers.”
Some KCON attendees are right here to audition for scouts and competitors reveals, in hopes of sometime changing into Okay-pop idols themselves.
In the event you’re chosen, you may spend as much as ten years in South Korea’s Okay-pop coaching facilities, operated by the leisure corporations. “It is type of like a boot camp,” mentioned Woo. “You go to your appearing class, you go to your singing class, you go to your dance class.”
Your look will even be managed: “You get digicam examined each angle, hair and make-up. They alter up completely different hairstyles, completely different colours,” Woo mentioned.
Pogue requested, “Is there a darkish facet to it?”
“When there is a good facet, there’s at all times going to be a nasty facet,” Woo mentioned.
Amber Liu is a former member of the lady group f(x). “I went to Korea, and I used to be round, like, 130 kilos. However I dropped to, I feel, 95 at one level.”
In 2020, after a sequence of suicides amongst Okay-pop performers, together with, she went public along with her account of these grueling, extraordinarily aggressive coaching camps, the place hundreds of youngsters vie to get right into a handful of teams.
“You are additionally considering, like, ‘Everyone’s doing it, too. It is a part of this, it is regular to us to really feel like we’re at all times hungry, to at all times really feel exhausted,'” Liu mentioned.
“And also you’re 15?”
“Yeah!” she mentioned. “It was a strain of success.”
Angela Killoren, the CEO of CJ ENM America, the leisure firm that places on the KCON conferences, mentioned that whereas the coaching camps could sound intense to Individuals, that type of aggressive strain pervades Korean tradition. “I am undecided that it is distinctive to Okay-pop. It is a societal factor in Korea. There may be plenty of strain on doing nicely in class. They’re all up ’til no matter time at night time, like, finding out, doing the work. There may be this concept of desirous to do your greatest, and never disappoint others.”
One factor is for positive: The South Korean music-making system does produce hits. Final yr alone, the Okay-pop trade generated greater than $5 billion, and 4 Okay-pop albums hit #1 on the Billboard listing (“Oddinary” and “Maxident” by Stray Youngsters; “Proof” by BTS; and “Born Pink” by Blackpink).
In response to idol Kevin Woo, that is no shock in any respect: “When you hearken to Okay-pop, you are in for a deal with,” he mentioned. “I imply, it is a very completely different tradition on the market. However I really feel like when you hearken to the primary 30 seconds, you may fall in love. Yeah, I promise you!”
The sixty fifth Grammy Awards will likely be introduced on Sunday, February 5, and will likely be broadcast stay on CBS and on demand through Paramount+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.
For more information:
Story produced by Anthony Laudato. Editor: Joseph Frandino.