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Stream and mountains

Deep Dive into K-Pop

By My Nguyen

K-pop, aka Korean pop, is a rising music genre that has been growing in popularity over the last few years thanks to popular groups such as BTS, Twice, Black Pink and many more. I first got introduced to K-pop through my friends, as well as funny compilations I watched on YouTube. So today, I’m going to dive into some of the basic terms and ideas of the genre, if you are interested in K-pop. 

Groups and Solo Artists - The Basics

As you know, K-pop (like many genres) is highly inspired by Western pop music (especially Black artists). The first generation of K-pop groups set up a basic system of music, which shaped our ideas of what K-pop would be in the future. As of today, there remain many popular groups that are still paying respect to the older generations of K-pop. 

In my opinion, the generation that blew up K-pop was the groups Super Junior, Girl Generation and Big Band, who were assisted by the rise of global marketing at the time. Then came BTS, the ultimate breakthrough group of K-pop, who introduced the genre into the American music industry, bringing more glory and fame to Korea’s music scene. This pushed a wave of brand deals and Korean advertisements into the public eye, as well as popularising the music genre and making the K-pop industry more diverse. An example of this diversity is the group BLACKSWAN, which consists of all non-Korean members, bringing up many debates about the classification of “K-pop” and discrimination against foreign artists in the K-pop industry.

The Talents and Their Downfall - BIG BANG

If there were ever a K-pop group to talk about, Big Bang would be a good example. Big Bang is a very popular Korean boy band that consists of five members: T.O.P, Seungri, Daesung, G-Dragon and Taeyang. The group was started by a famous management company, YG Entertainment, on August 19th 2006, and they made their debut with the song “We Belong Together” which sold over 40,000 copies.

Their popularity rose between 2006 and 2019 with their live tour stadiums selling out more than 50,000 seats. Anna Fiflied wrote, “[Big Bang is] one of the biggest boy bands in the world. Their concerts make One Direction’s look poorly attended. Compared with their fans, Beliebers seem halfhearted… For a decade, these five stylish, edgy guys have defined South Korean pop music,” (Washington Post, March 2, 2016). To cut it short, Big Bang was hugely successful in the K-pop industry, earning US$44 million a year, which is more than the highest-paid American pop group, Maroon 5. 

However, like every celebrity group, there are huge scandals that surround Big Bang. The most disgusting and noticeable one is the Rising Sun Scandal, which happened recently in 2019. A member of the group, Seungri, whose previous scandals earned him the nickname the “Asian Gatsby”, would host crazy parties and invite many of the Asian Elites and celebrities to join. His nightclub, Burning Sun, was supposed to be an expensive elite nightclub that would attract many powerful people in Korea and around the world. Many people would love to go in, as it would improve their social standing and demonstrate that they have entered the world of the rich. 

On November 24, 2018, a man named Kim Sang Kyo was reportedly attacked at the Burning Sun Club as he attempted to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted. When he reported the case to the local police they turned a blind eye to the issue. Following this, a wave of victims of the ‘trafficking’ scandals at the Burning Sun came forward and shared their stories. This caused huge outrage in the community, and questions about the safety of women and their standing in Korean society. This soured the public’s view of the group, and now the only thing that is memorable about them is their legacy and the song “BANG BANG BANG”. 

Sasaeng - The Rise of Obsessive Fans

As from the title, I’m going to discuss the truly delusional, obsessed and borderline criminal “Sasaeng” concept - an obsessive fan who acts in ways that invade the privacy of Korean idols, drama actors or other public figures in the Korean entertainment industry. Many popular K-pop idols such as Jennie from Blackpink or Nayeon from Twice have told frightening stories to the public about how obsessive fans not only harm the idols but their loved ones as well. 

If you are a fan of Twice, then @Josh1994 is a familiar name that everyone would be disgusted to hear. He was a German “Sasaeng” who was known to stalk and harass Nayeon, a member of the group since 2019. He has been releasing YouTube videos that detail his plan to attempt to meet Nayeon in person to confess his love to her. In 2022, he posted a video wishing Happy Birthday to her, as well as discussing trying to re-enter Korea to meet her in person again. Many fans were worried about the stalker, however, a member from Twice, Jeongyeon, issued a warning to fans about the stalker, as he was also messaging her. In response to this incident, the company JYP (who manages Twice) filed a lawsuit against him, saying that they, “would be taking the highest level of legal action available to us”.



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