[OPINION] 2019 Kpop Outlook in the USA

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH1PVvFj8cE

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHFL-mIeZX4

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k1-jOZ7f1w

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.

Ilgan Sports

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.

https://twitter.com/BTS_twt/status/1100449341200773121

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.

https://youtu.be/D_nyuB8GbM8

As a result, BTS was able to become a household name is the US even prior to their official debut on the American Music Awards in 2017. Afterwards, BTS continued to set more records on the AMAsBillboards, Youtube, iTunes, Ebay Korea, Forbes, Time Magazine, Bloomberg etc. in 2018.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QK-HR7xfEA

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/BlTF_iJhvlh/?hl=en

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn8S5QphtwR/

 

https://twitter.com/LINEFRIENDSinfo/status/1054826311938646018

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnshifThY9g/

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnXnJ-7BF8X/

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. 

https://youtu.be/PIMB64pJS3o

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.

Overall Take

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!

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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.

 

[Opinion] A Much Needed Look at Dean

Dean is a writer, singer, an aficionado of artistic picture-taking for Instagram. Besides that, he might be apart of a trend of non-idol South Korean artists looking outside the country for musical freedom.

Image source – Ginza Magazine Japan

It had been over a year since Dean released his iconic song “Instagram” that topped charts for weeks before giving way to iKON’s “Love Scenario.”

Prescient in its content and evocative in its narrative, it was a song that stood out on Korean music charts that are usually inundated with songs about love. Similar to its monochromatic video, it had a belied simplicity regarding the complex set of qualities that come into play when one uses social media including but not limited to addiction and depression.

It had a subtle depth — just enough to provoke (a comfortable amount of) thought and was general enough to make it relatable. Further, Ginza, a magazine out of Japan, described the song as ” inspired by the millennial generation,” and as a millennial, myself — though I don’t engage in social media that much because of the abovementioned effects — it is easily one of my favorite Korean songs from the past year.

Image source – Places + Faces

However, since the release of the song, Dean seems more absent than present. His occasional updates on social media breathe life and anticipation into his fan base and he did release a song called “Dayfly” on different music sites in November.

Additionally, even with the beautiful melody, smooth vocals, and the meaningful lyrics, it didn’t feel like Dean was back; it was not a comeback. So when is Dean coming back and what has he been up to?

According to a social media post, the singer is working on a new album titled 130: mood: RVNG that he is dedicating more time to write, compose, and produce. Moreover, as he works on this album, Dean is also experiencing a personal transformation where he is ridding himself of the idea that he could only show his “perfect and good side to the world,” afraid of being branded after an unfortunate slip of the tongue. In turn, he is acknowledging his “badness, stupidity, weakness, and the dark shadows” of his past.

Image source – Ginza Magazine Japan

Interestingly, as he grows personally and musically, he seems to do so mostly outside of South Korea and instead is finding solace someplace in London. Perusing his Instagram account, the singer looks to be out of his native country for months at a time. In his posts, he appears to spend much of his time in England, with short forays elsewhere, working on music, collaborating with artists, and generally living his best life.

At the same time, I see an emerging trend where independent non-idol artists are finding freedom and solace outside of the Korean entertainment market. Similar to Jay Park who is working on expanding in the U.S., like Dok2 who moved to Los Angeles late last year, and alternative rock group Hyukoh that released an all English album last year and is currently on tour, it seems like Korean artists are looking to find their voice and music made and heard outside a system tipped heavily in favor of political correctness, cookie-cutter idols, and deep-pocketed companies.

On the other hand, it could be that other industries are now ready for Asian artists.

 

 

 

By O.C

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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

[Opinion] 2018 in Review: A Year of Dismantlement

From music charts, the “Me Too” movement, to the reopening of old cases, 2018 was a year where established structures of the K-Pop industry began to crumble.

There were many things that happened over the course of 2018 like the “Me Too” movement and the ongoing uncovering of financial fraud by celebrity parents with many celebrities. Reviewing the year, there is a theme that runs through the year’s most impactful events and developments: dismantlement.

Those who have been lulled into a safe sense of security due to fame, wealth, social standing, professional position, or through their connections have had a rude awakening. Additionally, with changes to real-time charts, new, and more honest, result have emerged that hint at where the Korean music industry is heading.

#Me Too and Financial Fraud Hits K-Pop

During the early months of 2018, students and former costars to prominent actors like Oh Dal-su, Jo Min-ki, Cho Jae-hyun, Choi Il-hwa, and many more have accused them of sexual assault and harassment.

Many of the victim’s testimonies told that the actors would use their position as more experienced actors to lure their less experienced victims to secluded areas under the pretense of helping them before forcing themselves on the women. In Jo Min-ki‘s case, he would send inappropriate messages to his students and call them up to his officetel for meetings and lectures.

The movement brought more awareness to sexual misconduct and crimes in the entertainment industry. More importantly, it gave a platform for many victims to tell their stories and speak their truth.

While the movement resulted in the death of one of the accused, who buckled under the weight of his guilt and the inevitable consequences of his actions, it also brought attention to the case of Jang Ja-yeon, who also took her life — but because of sexual abuse. Further, it also helped to expose institutional concealment of such acts and companies are now including “Me Too” clauses in their contracts.

Jang Ja-Yeon – OSEN News

 

Meanwhile, during the last few months of the year, several stars like Tiffany, MAMAMOO Wheein, Dok2, Ma Dong-Seok and, most notably, Microdot found themselves wrapped up in the results of the shady schemes of their parents. The parents either borrowed money from acquaintances, had people co-sign a loan, presented fake business plans, or boldly took money from coffers before never being heard from again.

Perhaps they felt comfortable under the umbrella of their children’s fame, but they shouldn’t have. Some like Microdot, who stepped down from his shows, lost brand deals, and broke-up with Hong Soo-hyun, have found their careers and relationships on the rocks. Being famous or knowing famous or rich people is no longer protection in the face of the law.

Going Solo

Screen grab from Dean’s song ‘Instagram’ – Universal Music Group

2018 was a good year for K-pop fans. The most prominent groups from the “big three,” (SM, JYPE, YG) all had comebacks — including BIGBANG right before three of its members enlisted in the army. Moreover, releases from Cube Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, FNC Entertainment and more filled the market with robust sound and good competition. However, through all of those big groups soloist shined the brightest.

Releases from Dean, Ben, Shaun, Paul Kim, IU, and so many more topped charts for days if not weeks. Solo debuts from the likes of BIGBANG Seungri, BLACKPINK Jennie, and Mino from WINNER became the talk of the town and proved their popularity by reaching the top spot on multiple charts.

Teaser for Jennie’s solo debut – YG Entertainment

For years, the K-pop industry has been a place where few soloists could hope to make it big. Unless you had an amazing voice or built your career over several years like IU, BoA, and Ailee, success was fleeting and inconsistent. K-pop groups, especially boy groups, dominated charts, with sometimes their whole album sometimes appearing on charts (a sure indicator of fans mass streaming).

However, while the perceived change in the reception of soloist does point to a change that may lead to smaller, rather than larger groups, in the future, their success is more visible because charts are fairer. This summer, the Goan Chart Police Committee decided to freeze real-time charts from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.

In doing so, the committee prevented fans from doing organized streams overnight and pushing certain songs to the top of charts, giving them a head start for when the general public woke up and started listening to songs. As a result, while there are still improvements to be made to ensure even more fairness, it has helped to show true trends in the industry.

Hopefully, these changes are only the beginning.

 

 

By O.C

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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

Sulli to Have Featured in Dean’s Upcoming Track “Dayfly”

Dean’s upcoming track “Dayfly” reportedly features former f(x) member, Sulli!

According to several sources from the industry, Sulli has featured in Dean’s upcoming track “Dayfly,” scheduled to drop on November 8.

Image Source – OSEN

During her 7-year career as an idol member, from the moment she debuted as a member of f(x) in 2009 until her departure in 2015, Sulli has never featured in any other artist’s works aside from her own group. However, now that she is a full-time actress, Sulli decides it’s time to show people what she’s capable of.

The idol-turned-actress picks Dean’s upcoming track as her first featuring, increasing much anticipation from all music fans around the world.

Meanwhile, Dean returns to the industry with upcoming single “Dayfly” on November 8. It’s been 11 months since he released “Instagram” last December.

Check out the official teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL99o4b6x4s

Original Article
Translated by Dasol Kim

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Dean and Woo Won-Jae to Feature on Ja Mezz’s New Album

Dean and Won-jae are the latest addition to a heavy-hitting line-up of featured artists.

Image source – Grandline Entertainment, Harpers Bazaar Korea

Ja Mezz’s upcoming album has an impressive line-up of featured artists. On May 14, an insider confirmed that R&B crooner Dean and “Show Me The Money” rapper Won-jae have participated in the album.

Further, the inclusion of these artists is in addition to confirmed reports that WINNER’s Song Min-ho, Jay Park, Dok2, and Skull have also featured in the new album. Considering that this will be Ja Mezz’s first full album, the support and participation of these other well-known artists is notable. Moreover, “High School Rapper 2” mentors Groovy Room are the main producers of the album.

The combination of these heavy-hitting featured artists is drawing a lot of attention not only for their reputation in the hip-hop community but also for their ability to dominate music charts. Meanwhile, the album is set to release on May 21.

Reportedly, Ja Mezz will show fan his artistic grown and firmly establish himself as a musician. The rapper started his career as a rapper in 2010. Since then, he participated in two seasons of “Show Me The Money” and also released music independently.

 

 

 

Original article

Translated by O.C

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[Hot Clip] Dean Discusses His Fame and the Inspiration for “Instagram”

On December 26, Dean released the chart-topping song “Instagram,” which he teased all the back in November on his Instagram.

In this interview, Dean discusses what inspired him to write “Instagram,” how he spends his time, and what he finds more important than success.

Watch it here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpqO6YtjwoI

Dean Blessing Us with a New Single in December

Korean R&B crooner Dean will release a new song in December.

DEAN
Marie Claire Korea

The announcement was made on his Instagram account where he posted a photo captioned, “NEW SONG COMING SOOOON”. Additional information was found in the hashtags which indicated that the song would be released in December and that it would not be an album.

This will mark the release of a new song Dean since “Love” ft. Syd, a jazzy, late night, and dreamy song.

By O.C

DEAN Goes Vintage & Checkered for DAZED Magazine

Musician and producer, DEAN made an appearance on the cover of DAZED Magazine’s Oct issue.

DAZED Magazine

DEAN revealed tracks from his two single albums ‘Limbo’ and ‘Love’, and EP album ‘130 Mood: TRBL’ this year, placing first on various domestic music charts. The musician is attracting attention for his collaboration with foreign artists and sold-out world tour. He is currently a producer for the audition program, ‘Show Me the Money 6’.

In the pictures, he can be seen donning a vintage coat from Burberry’s 2017 Fall Collection. During the photoshoot, the musician expressed his fondness for vintage checkered coats and revealed his love for fashion.

“I would like to try directing and script-writing for a movie. I’d also like to use fashion, music and the arts to evoke a certain kind of emotion,” he said, expressing his desire to be versatile as an artist.

 

Original article
by Kang Suh-jung

Translated by Janet Kang

[M/V] PUMA x DEAN ’bout to ‘Run the Streets’ in New Collaboration

In partnership with R&B crooner DEAN, PUMA has released the official music video for song “Run the Streets”. The song feature aesthetic imagery of Seoul’s city-scape that DEAN claims has his own. DEAN’s silky vocals add a jazzy note to the chill beat creating a charming mix.

The song is part of PUMA’s new campaign, Run The Streets.

Watch the video here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5ZiP-9_P-M