The Evolution of K-Pop: Seo Taeji, BTS and More - Hot Like Kimchi

The Evolution of K-Pop: Seo Taeji, BTS and More

Even if you don’t “stan” the members of BLACKPINK or TWICE, chances are that you’ve come across them in some form or shape at least once, thanks to their loyal and dedicated fanbase. Though these K-Pop fans are often ridiculed for liking their unnies and oppas, they’ve also done a lot of good - notably when the BTS army and BTS themselves raised $1 million USD each to help Black Lives Matter, and also notably when the K-Pop fanbase united to donate money to young Thai protesters, raising 3 million + baht. 

It Didn't Happen Overnight
Although K-Pop as a genre has existed since the 1990’s with the boy band Seo Taeji and the Boys, which attracted great attention nationally with 1.8 million copies sold. K-Pop as a whole, however, only really broke out as a trend internationally with Psy’s iconic hit “Gangnam Style” in 2012. 

It would take a little more time for K-Pop to become famous, and it really only became mainstream in 2017 with the rise of BTS - who recently on August 21 of 2020 released their hit single “Dynamite” and became the first K-Pop act to reach 100 million views. However, before BTS’ rise to popularity, there were also other groups - BIGBANG, 2NE1, EXO, TXVQ and F(x) between the 2000s and 2020s, who enjoyed (and are stll enjoying) a fair bit of success internationally and nationally. 

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The success of K-Pop can most definitely be attributed to social media. Nowadays it’s hard to see a teenager who doesn’t own a phone, and the vast majority of teens own an Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook account. It’s becoming increasingly easy to watch and “discover” these K-pop groups compared to ten to twenty years ago, when K-pop’s reach was limited to word of mouth and perhaps TV and radio broadcasts. 

It Can Get Crazy
K-Pop’s success is a little too much sometimes. Whenever there’s a lot of support and love for something, there’s a lot of hate as well. There have been multiple instances where the lives of K-Pop idols and their fans have been put in danger, such as when Twice was threatened with an acid attack and when Jimin of BTS received a death threat after a Twitter user posted disturbing death threats. Oh and of course, when 2PM’s Taecyeon received a bloody note in period blood. 

On top of this, there’s the insane amount of fanwars going on every day on comment sections that divide fan wars and countries. With the rise of the Internet, in recent times keyboard warriors painstakingly type out long walls of text to defend their “faves” against criticism and/or hate. 

Growing Audience
Despite fanwars, hate, death threats and scandals, K-Pop’s popularity seems to still be growing in recent times, most probably thanks to the generally positive attitude of most K-Pop fans. The majority of K-Pop fans don’t send death threats or participate in bloody fanwars. They are people just like us, and whenever they meet new people and talk about their hobbies they’ll probably bring K-Pop up and spread the word. 

Someone once put it perfectly : K-Pop is like a fast-spreading religion across the globe. You can either decide to follow it or not, and we’ll respect your decision. But if you decide to be disrespectful to our idols, we’ll defend our faves to the best of our ability!

Further Reading
If you're looking for a more in-depth look at K-Pop and it's evolution, these information packed books are a great way to learn the ins and outs of the industry:

K-Pop AtoZ The Definitive K-Pop EncyclopediaK-Pop Now The Korean Music EvolutionThe Dark Side of a K-Pop Idol The Untold Truth

So, what K-Pop group(s) do you stan and why? Please share in the comments below.

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