Introducing ‘Interviews with K-pop Stars’ with BTS J-HOPE, HOSHI, LEO, CHUNG HA, AND CHAE YEON!
ABOUT THE BOOK: It is easier than ever to find fans from all over the world copying the performances of K-Pop idols.
More and more attention is given to K-Pop artists for their vigorous dancing and acting along to their lyrics on stage.
However, it has not been as easy to find out what they are thinking when preparing their performance or while they are on the stage.
After exploring the story behind the experts in the K-Pop industry and idols who create and produce their own music, journalist Park Hee A in her third book has turned her focus to idols who put on a unique performance based on the identity they each formed in their past.
Interested in purchasing the book? You can conveniently order directly from Amazon!
As unbelievable as it may be, the 2010s will soon be over in just 10 short months! Kpop has had exponential growth in the last few years, which will also determine Kpop’s future for the following decade!
The hallyu wave aka Kpop wave has definitely become more globalized within the last couple years. There is no doubt that in 2019 there will be more Kpop fans as more Kpop idols (BTS, Monsta X, NCT, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, Blackpink, Sunmi etc.) continue to promote abroad. Especially in the US, thanks mostly to BTS’s success paving the way for Kpop growth this year.
Hollywood is the Kpop market for this year
Based on previous patterns of Kpop idol groups like Wonder Girls, Girl’s Generation, Super Junior, TVXQ etc. many Kpop idols usually extend their fan base to other countries in Asia before pursuing Europe & the Americas. Kpop’s growth in other countries are indeed significant, but given US is home to global names like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ed Sherman, Chris Brown, Drake, Justin Timberlake etc. (as well as Kpoplove’s headquarters) Kpop’s future global outlook will focus on the US market for this article.
Kpop before BTS
BTS on American Music Awards (2017)
Just 5 to 10 years ago, prior to BTS’s historical invasion in the US, Kpop was just a new and upcoming genre in the US that originated from a small country in Asia. As a decades old Kpop fan, I can personally attest to instances in the past where people confused North and South Korea and probably couldn’t name any Kpop artist even if their life depended on it.
Other idols’ success in the US
However, this does not mean Kpop has never made its mark in the US. Examining only the idol groups who are no longer “active” meaning either disbanded or no longer actively promoting with all members, idol groups like Wonder Girls and Girl’s Generation have previously tried to break into the US market without as much success as BTS.
JYP’s Wonder Girls (2007-2017) released a single- ‘Nobody’ (2009)- that was No.76 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as the 1st Kpop group on the Billboard charts. This provided the opening for the group to enter the US market and pursue international activities. Wonder Girls can be considered to have been at the peak of their career in Korea (and Asia) prior to moving to the US in 2009 to focus on US activities. However contrary to expectations, Wonder Girls was unable to continue their momentum and ended up with changing the line-up and regroup back in Korea.
Wonder Girls on Wendy Williams Show (2009)
SM’s Girl’s Generation (2007-present) released a single-’The Boys’ (2012)-officially debuting and promoting in the US a few years after Wonder Girls. Comparing various aspects like promotions, fanbase, hallyu wave’s influence and method, there are so many differences that can explain the different levels of success between the 2 girl groups.
Girl’s Generation on Late Show with David Letterman (2012)
Taking a closer look at how BTS did not need to promote in the US to have the biggest US debut stage of all in 2017 as the 1st Korean group to perform at AMAs, BTS clearly did something that sets them apart from others. Not to mention BTS performed in Korean while Wonder Girls and Girl’s Generation performed in English. Based on BTS’s sucess, BTS’s momentum can only be expected to grow further this year.
BTS’s significant role for Kpop mainstreamed in US
In 2019, there are very few individuals who wouldn’t know what the 3 letters “BTS” refers to in the US. Even if one is completely clueless about Kpop, there is a big chance someone’s family, friend or acquaintance is a BTS fan or BTS ARMY.
Similar to BTS’s predecessors (e.g. legendary Kpop idol groups Girls Generation, Super Junior, TVXQ), BTS became mainstream in Asia a few years ago and became more globally recognized as they made their mark on the Billboard charts in 2015. But unlike other Kpop groups, BTS didn’t make any special plans to promote in the US market soon after their first placement on the Billboard charts. Instead BTS continued to release more content and focused on their music letting time to gradually increase their popularity all over the world.
Why is BTS different?
BTS contributed to further spreading the hallyu wave rather than having to focus on establishing the Kpop wave. Currently in 2019, nearly everyone has a smartphone as opposed to 10 years ago. Internet is easily accessible to many age groups enabling the daily use of social media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc. This has allowed Kpop idols, especially BTS, to focus on interacting with fans and growing their fanbase. BTS members are well known for being very active participants as singers-songwriters within the Kpop industry and renowned for sharing many of their content on SoundCloud or V Live which played a significant role for BTS’s success today.
BTS’s timing may have been what led to BTS’s breakthrough to becoming the biggest Kpop group in the world. Rather than jumping on the first signs of opportunity to pursue international activities, BTS bided their time to focus on their work and to further nurture their talents while waiting for their hard work to come to fruition.
The 7 membered boy group became recognized for their global popularity when selected by international corporations like Puma, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motors etc. as global ambassadors and made significant collaborations with Mattel, Medicome Toy, Netmarble Games, Line Webtoons, Line Friends x BT21 and more!
BTS World Tour & BT21
When BTS had their 3rd world tour last summer, Line Friends x BT21 also officially opened their pop-up store in LA situated amongst Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. As someone who has accompanied various people to this store in August, September, October and December of last year, I can personally affirm the lines were unbelievably long not only when the pop-up store first opened but also for the following months. Amazingly, the lines did not really decrease much every time I had to go.
Most of my experience at this store consisted of standing in line for hours while conversing with other people accompanying their niece or cousin to the store. As to why the lines didn’t decrease much even after BTS finished touring in the US would be since BT21 items were often sold out with limited quantities, unpredictable shipments of new items, new seasonal (Halloween, Christmas) items and such.
Initially the Line Friends store was announced to stay for 3 months. Later, due to high demand, the pop-up was extended to January 2019 with plans to locate permanently. Just the fact that BT21 became popular enough to become a permanent store in LA speaks volumes about BTS’s success in the US. Aside from BT21, BTS is renowned for increasing sales for many associated businesses leading to the birth of the term “BTS effect” from major news outlets as many profit from BTS’s influence. BTS has become symbolic as a guaranteed catalyst to enhance micro and macro economics.
Lots of Kpop events in 2019
Just within 2 months of this year, there have been so many appearances or scheduled appearances of Kpop idols and artists in the US. Just to name a few upcoming events- Girl’s Generation’s Tiffany will be having her first showcase as Tiffany Young in a few days, Sunmi will be having her first world tour next month, BLACKPINK will be at Coachella in April and BTS will be touring the US again in May. Additionally, Red Velvet, Oh My Girl, Hong Jin Young and Dean have already performed in the US within the last 2 months.
BLACKPINK made their official US debut on “Good Morning America” and announced their North American Tour during the interview just awhile back. With so many activities planned in the US for the first half of 2019, many are wondering whether BLACKPINK will be able to have success similar to BTS. There is definitely a lot of potential but as previous idol groups like Wonder Girls and Girl’s Generation have proven, it isn’t easy to accomplish.
As an avid Kpop fan whose biases are mostly the first generation of Kpop idols, I can’t help but feel happy and excited to see how well Kpop is doing in the US. There are many idol groups who have also contributed to Kpop’s success like Monsta X, EXO and annual events like KCON LA or KCON NY. But amongst everything I have read, seen and heard, I want to credit BTS for really opening the door wide open for Kpop to take on the US. There have been many attempts but no one has been as successful as BTS and thanks to that, I think Kpop fans are able to have more opportunities to see their favorite Kpop idols shine for Uncle Sam.
All I could hope for would be that BTS’s continuous momentum ushers in even more opportunities for other Kpop artists to enter the US market. Till the day Kpop can be heard on various iheart radio stations in the US, “Hwaiting” to all Kpop artists!
According to an exclusive report by Ilgan Sports, BTS is currently working on an album with the goal of making a comeback in May.
In an exclusive report published on Wednesday, Ilgan Sport said that with the award season wrapping up, BTS is now focusing on their new album which will reportedly come out this May. Moreover, having finished their “Love Yourself” trilogy with their last album released last August, the news outlet says that “expectations are high for what themes and messages” this new album will have.
However, with all that said, the group’s agency has not confirmed. When asked about BTS’ comeback Big Hit Entertainment said: “we’ll let you know when the comeback is confirmed.”
Even so, Big Hit’s team is reportedly already actively working on to make it the group’s best album and comeback so far. Notably, this will also be the group’s first release since renewing their contact with the agency last year. The company seems determined to make the most out of their longstanding partnership.
“It is Big Hit’s philosophy that the artists who are having the best performance in the world should be given the best treatment. We signed a contract with seven members of the BTS to have a more stable and long-term activity after sufficient discussion,” the agency said. To accomplish this, the company bolstered their team to include around 100 employed and are working to reinforce investment and support for the group.
Given that 2018 was a groundbreaking year for the group, many are excited to see what they will achieve this time around.
BTS shows off their growing global impact and breaks yet another record as the first Korean group to place name in the annual Bloomberg 50!
On December 6, American media company Bloomberg published this year’s Bloomberg 50. The list “The People who Defined Global Business in 2018” is an annual tradition of the company, where they recognize noteworthy accomplishments in various areas, such as business, entertainment, finance, politics, and more.
Alongside many influencers, BTS became the first-ever Korean group to place their name on the list. Furthermore, they were the one out of two singers to be included in this year’s list. The other singer included in the list was Taylor Swift.
Regarding the reason for including BTS on the list, Bloomberg pointed out the group’s achievements in the United States. The article stated that by becoming the first Korean pop band to top Billboard’s album charts with “Love Yourself: Tear” album, BTS achieved “an unprecedented level of success in the U.S.”
It looks like BTS is getting a younger brother group!
On November 27, Big Hit Entertainment reported, “we are preparing to launch a new boy group. We are aiming for a debut early next year and we will release the details regarding the number of members and concept as soon as they are confirmed.”
Thus, it appears that the rumors of the agency hosting a survival program were just rumors. Previously, one media outlet reported that the agency had finalized plans to debut a five-member boy group. While it is true the agency is preparing a debut, no details about the group have yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, this upcoming group will be the first group to debut under Big Hit in 6 years, since the debut of BTS in 2013.
BTS gives an inspiring speech to the youth community all around the world!
On September 24, boy group BTS made an appearance at the 73rd UN General Assembly to celebrate the launch of UNICEF’s new “Generation Unlimited” initiative. The organization had invited the group as its goodwill ambassadors, and RM stepped up as the group’s representative to deliver a speech in honor of the launch.
“Generation Unlimited” was formed as a part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth 2030 Strategy. It is a global initiative that “aims to ensure all young people are in school, training or employment by 2030,” that focuses on three key areas: secondary-age education, skills for learning, employability and decent work, and empowerment.
When BTS was finally asked to give a speech in honor of the launch, RM delivered an inspiring speech for which he had incorporated the group’s newest album name and motto “Love Yourself,” his own personal life, as well as their success as a group.
The following is the speech from RM:
“Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, UNICEF Executive Director, Excellencies and distinguished guests from across the world.
“My name is Kim Nam Jun, also known as RM, the leader of the group BTS. It’s an incredible honour to be invited to an occasion with such significance for today’s young generation.
“Last November, BTS launched the “Love Myself” campaign with UNICEF, building on our belief that “true love first begins with loving myself.” We have been partnering with UNICEF’s #ENDviolence program to protect children and young people all over the world from violence.
“Our fans have become a major part of this campaign with their action and enthusiasm. We truly have the best fans in the world!
“I would like to begin by talking about myself.”
“I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It’s a beautiful place, with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy.
“I would look up at the night sky in wonder and dream the dreams of a boy. I used to imagine that I was a superhero, saving the world.
“In an intro to one of our early albums, there is a line that says, “My heart stopped…I was maybe nine or ten.”
“Looking back, that’s when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and started seeing myself through their eyes. I stopped looking up at the stars at night. I stopped daydreaming. I tried to jam myself into moulds that other people made. Soon, I began to shut out my own voice and started to listen to the voices of others. No one called out my name, and neither did I. My heart stopped and my eyes closed shut. So, like this, I, we, all lost our names. We became like ghosts.
“I had one sanctuary, and that was music. There was a small voice in me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself!” But it took me a long time to hear music calling my name.
“Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were hurdles. Most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit
“I think I was very lucky that I didn’t give it all up.
“I’m sure that I, and we, will keep stumbling and falling. We have become artists performing in huge stadiums and selling millions of albums.
“But I am still an ordinary, twenty-four-year-old guy. If there’s anything that I’ve achieved, it was only possible because I had my other BTS members by my side, and because of the love and support of our ARMY fans.
“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become.
“I would like to say one last thing.”
“After releasing the “Love Yourself” albums and launching the “Love Myself” campaign, we started to hear remarkable stories from our fans all over the world, how our message helped them overcome their hardships in life and start loving themselves. These stories constantly remind us of our responsibility.
“So, let’s all take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to “speak yourself.”
“I would like to ask all of you. What is your name? What excites you and makes your heart beat?
“Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself.
“Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself.
“I’m Kim Nam Jun, RM of BTS.
“I’m a hip-hop idol and an artist from a small town in Korea.
“Like most people, I made many mistakes in my life.
“I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little.
Group BTS is unstoppable! They just became the youngest group to receive nomination for the Order of Cultural Merit, presented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism recently announced that BTS became one of the 12 nominees to received the Order of Cultural Merit this year. They will announce the winner at the 2018 Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards, taking place on October 31.
An Order of Cultural Merit is awarded to a person who has devoted themselves into improving the national development in the fields of culture and arts. Alongside BTS, actors Lee Soon-Jae, Kim Young-Chul, Lim Ha-Ryong, and CUBE Entertainment’s president Shin Dae-Nam placed their names on the nominees’ list.
Regarding the nomination, the Ministry of Culture said, “BTS gained recognition in both domestic and international music industry for their achievement. Consequently, they contributed much to the improvement of Hallyu in Japan, the United States, and around the world. Furthermore, most members are singer-songwriters who have the ability to write, compose, and produce music themselves.”
Moreover, BTS has previously received a commendation from the Minister of Culture at the 2016 Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards. Afterwards, the group managed to win two consecutive awards at the Billboard Music Awards, and secured their places in the music charts, ultimately receiving the nominations for the higher honor than a commendation.
Meanwhile, the group is currently preparing to release their repackaged album “Love Yourself: Answer” on August 24. Afterwards, they will embark on another world tour, starting with Seoul on August 25 and 26. During the tour, BTS plans to hold in total of 33 concerts in 16 different cities around the world. Recently, they set another record by becoming the first Korean group to hold a stadium concert in the U.S.
Yet another death threat was made against BTS member, Jimin.
Recently, another anonymous internet user made a death threat against BTS member Jimin. In the post, the user threatened to hurt the member during the group’s upcoming concert in Los Angeles, California on September 5. Immediately afterwards, BTS fans reported the account and alerted the agency.
Unfortunately, this is the third time Jimin was threatened. In April of 2017, the fans discovered the first threat regarding the group’s concert in California. Then, last month, an internet user made a post on social media saying they would shoot Jimin during their upcoming performance on September 16 in Fort Worth, Texas. In the rather detailed post, the user even specified which type of rifle and during which song they would commit this act.
At the time, both BigHit Entertainment and the local police asserted that they will ensure the member’s safety. Furthermore, Jimin appeared in a press conference for “Love Yourself: Tear” release and assured the fans not to worry, himself.
While the police and agency announced that they will only allow transparent bags inside and install metal detectors, many fans worry it is not enough.
Meanwhile, BTS is kicking off their “Love Yourself: Tear” world tour on August 25 and 26 in Seoul. Afterwards, the group will visit the United States and Europe to greet their international fans.
While many guesses and rumors roam around the internet regarding BTS comeback, BigHit makes it clear that we just need to sit tight and wait.
With BTS’ upcoming comeback with a repackaged album ahead, netizens are currently trying to guess the exact date of the release. While there are many speculations with different dates, the most plausible guess is that the group will make a comeback in August.
After the group released their “Love Yourself: Tear” album, rumors about their return with a repackaged album started circulating online. Several sources revealed that the group went into preparation mode immediately after the end of “Fake Love” promotions. And because BTS has previously released a repackage album immediately after a full album, the rumors sounded fairly logical.
However, BigHit responded with a brief statement, “nothing has been confirmed.” The company continues, “we have not confirmed anything regarding the schedule for BTS’ repackaged album.”
According to them, it is true that the group is currently preparing for a repackaged album and a concert. However, the company’s internal affairs prevented them from establishing an exact comeback date.
Aside from the potential comeback, BTS is going on another world tour “Love Yourself,” starting in Seoul on August 25. Afterwards, the group will travel to the United States and Europe to greet their fans.
Just like fashion trends, K-pop has come full circle. With the growing popularity of K-pop in both domestic and international music industry, people are finally starting to acknowledge K-pop as a music genre, as well as a cultural phenomenon.
While BigHit Entertainment’s seven-headed monster BTS contributed much to spreading greatness of K-pop all over the world, we have to understand that they were able to do so, only because K-pop has come full circle.
In fact, if there is one group to whom they should credit their fame, it is Seo Taeji and Boys, as known as the “President of Culture” from the early 1990’s.
As some of you already know, K-pop was greatly influenced by the Western pop in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. While the government had strict regulations on music in Korea for most of the 1900’s, the 1987 reform changed everything.
TV stations started to expand their entertainment contents, making American music more available and easily accessible to the public. Furthermore, talent shows on TV became increasingly popular – like present day Inkigayo, Show! Music Core, or Music Bank.
Then comes a South Korean trio “Seo Taeiji and Boys” in 1992, wearing Western Hip Hop attire with rap style like Americans, but conveying message strictly in Korean.
Because the material they brought to the stage was so new, the audiences loved them. Afterwards, their debut song “I Know” topped major charts in the country for several weeks, officially marking the beginning of “K-pop” we know now.
The trio used the power of their lyrics to challenge the status quo, especially regarding social and political issues. They expressed the problems as a part of the youth community in South Korea, often blaming the government for the troubles. In response, the government tried to censor their lyrics, which failed because of the pushback from the fans.
Afterwards, three major entertainment companies arose, which stay prominent until now: SM, YG, and JYP.
The rest is what you would know as a fan of K-pop. SM first stepped in and created 1st generation idols, such as H.O.T and S.E.S, followed by BOA in 2000. Then comes the rise of TVXQ, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls, SHINee, and 2NE1 in the 2000’s.
While “K-Pop” in the 1990’s mainly focused on the music, often borrowing the style from the Western pop and substituting the lyrics to fit the culture of Korea, the definition of “K-Pop” in the 2000’s has definitely changed.
Starting with the second generation of K-pop idols, the genre started to put more emphasis on the image, visual, and performance.
Now, they focus on perfecting a “knife-like” choreography, coming up with catchy melodies, and pouring money into shaping their “idol-like” image. They did so by borrowing outfits from the Western trends, for which fans went wild, trying to copy their “idols” the best as they could.
From this, “image” arguably became the most important feature of “K-Pop,” which was now not only a music genre, but also a cultural phenomenon. Afterwards, the government decided to take part in this, even dedicating a whole government department to K-pop.
They built schools to train kids to sing, dance, and audition in hopes of becoming an idol. Once they signed a contract with companies, the idols had to hand over the control of their image to the management, including rehearsal schedules, dieting, and restrictions on romantic relationships. This is what they had to pay in order to gain the fame they desired.
While image still plays a big role in “K-Pop,” I believe that BTS did otherwise.
Just like Seo Taiji and Boys did in the 1990’s, BTS challenged the injustice in the society. They expressed the frustrations of young people and tried to push the boundary limits of Korea’s music industry. Their name “Bangtan Sonyeondan” literally translates to “bulletproof boy scouts,” and has a meaning of “protecting the youth from prejudice and oppression” from the society. Their debut song “No More Dream” talks about how young people’s aspiration and dreams are already set by their parents. Moreover, their school trilogy focused on the problems Korean high school and college students struggle through.
If you are a true Army, you would know that BTS was not a big deal when they first debuted. At the time, SM had just debuted their 13-member boy group, EXO, who instantly gained fame. BTS, who debuted under Big Hit, a small company with absolutely no power in the market compared to SM, had not much to compete with.
But BTS couldn’t care less.
They continued to push forwards with their own unique sound, hoping to have a positive influence on the Korean society. For example, the group remade Seo Taiji’s song “Come Back Home” from 1995, substituting the original lyrics to their own, to talk about the frustrations of today’s youth.
In my opinion, the lyrics of BTS songs take partial credit for their success. The lyrics allowed fans to find deeper meaning in their music. They allowed the fans to feel like their opinions were understood, heard, and expressed. The group made sure the fans felt connected to them on a common ground, just like Seo Taiji and Boys did in the 1990’s.
Besides BTS, many idol groups are secretly slipping in social commentary into their songs. While they don’t do it as bluntly as BTS, it is still happening. The girl groups are throwing out their cute and innocent origins to embrace more rebellious attire. The boy groups replacing their sweet words with socially aware lyrics. Just like past fashion trends are making comebacks, so is K-pop.
By. Dasol Kim
Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates.