[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)


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!


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.


[M/V] SHINee Onew Releases Solo Track ‘Blue’ Ahead of Enlistment

SHINee Onew has proved his global popularity with his first solo album VOICE.

Once Onew’s first mini album VOICE on December 5, it topped iTunes album chart in 23 countries. A few of the countries included Russia, Peru, Vietnam, and Japan, demonstrating fans’ high level of interest. Additionally, VOICE has seven songs including the title song “Blue,” “Illusion,” and “Shine on You.”


YG Thanks BLACKPINK’s Fans for Jennie’s Successful Solo Debut

Yang Hyun-suk (YG), the CEO of YG Entertainment, expressed his gratitude to BLACKPINK’s fans as member Jennie continues to make steady progress with her debut song “Solo.”

jennie yg
Image source – YG

YG Entertainment’s CEO took to social media with screen captures of iTunes worldwide chart and of him streaming “Solo” to show support for Jennie and to express gratitude towards her fans. In the post, the producer and executive included the hashtag “Thanks Blinks” among others to show his appreciation.

The first member to make a solo debut, BLACKPINK member Jennie released her first song on Monday and has steadily risen on multiple charts. In particular, she has topped eight real-time charts in Korea and iTunes charts in 40 countries including Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, and Sweden.

Additionally, she has also managed to top iTunes worldwide songs 200 chart. Notably, it is the first time that a Korean solo artist has topped the list. Moreover, another accomplishment includes surpassing the 10 million views mark on YouTube just 15 hours after the video went live on the site.



Original article

Translated by O.C


Kris Wu Accused of Manipulating iTunes U.S. Chart and Sales

Various media outlets accuse former EXO member Kris Wu of manipulating iTunes U.S. chart and sales with his latest album, “Antares”

On November 8, various foreign media outlets reported, “Kris Wu’s solo debut album dominated the iTunes U.S. chart on November 6. Ariana Grande’s “Thank you, Next” is the only track from the Top 10 Songs that is not from the Chinese-Canadian artist’s album.”

Regarding this phenomenon, these media outlets are accusing Kris Wu of “fraudulently” acquiring the iTunes U.S. sales. They argue that these sales seem rather suspicious, taking into account that his album “Antares” has yet been released in China.

One media outlet pointed out that as soon as Wu’s album became available in China, his rank slipped down to no. 90 on the U.S. iTunes Chart. In addition, another outlet supported the claim by saying, “While he’s a household name in Asia, in America, he’s comparably an unknown. Looking at the phenomenon from different angles, we suspect there has been a manipulation.”

As a result, Wu’s albums sales were reported as a scam to Nielsen and will not count toward the iTunes sales chart disseminated by Billboard.

Regarding the accusation, Apple Music remains silent.

Original Article
Translated by Dasol Kim


[Opinion] The Definition of What a Successful K-Pop Group Is Has Evolved

In 2018 especially, the definition of what it means to be a successful K-pop group or artist has evolved to include the western music market. However, with this new definition, what does it mean for the newest generation of K-pop?

There have been numerous popular Korean artists who have had performances overseas in such places as Australia, the U.S., and Europe including acts like Big Bang, Wonder Girls, VIXX, and Super Junior. However, it was a completely new concept to be noticed outside of the then niche audience that listened to music that came out of South Korea — especially by moguls and entertainment programs. That is until Psy’s 2014 song “Gangnam Style” literally took over the world.


While most couldn’t understand the lyrics, the energy of the song, the catchiness of the hook, the absurdity of the video, and the bizarre horse dance created the perfect mixture for a worldwide hit (think of “What Does the Fox Say” for another reference). I witnessed the song played at weddings, in shopping malls, and heard it drift out of cars once in a while. However, the appeal of the song in the west also played to stereotypes about East Asia and East Asian music being different, wild, peculiar, and otherized.

As the years went on and K-pop moguls pulled in more popular Western music sounds to appeal to a wider audience, so did the acceptability of K-pop become more palatable. The updated music, artistry, and over-exposure of the singers which resulted in emotionally dedicated fandoms created an impetus that had no real alternative than to go global.

As such, while Psy presented the absurd, BTS presented a more approachable image.

BTS China DNA Hallyu band United States U.S
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 19: BTS attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chris Polk/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)

Although there are still lingering conflicts with the image of masculinity they present in comparison to the common constructs presented in Western media, with their fandom, charisma, and similar sounding music, they were accepted into popular Western culture in an unprecedented manner. They appeared on several liver entertainment programs, got a few plays on radio stations, performed at large venues, attended award shows and have even collaborated with different artists including Steve Aoki and Charlie Pluth.

In the manner, BTS began to change what it means to be successful in K-pop.

GOT7 interview with Billboard – JYP Entertainment
Monsta X with Singer Gallant – Starship Entertainment
NCT127 at FOX LA – SM Entertainment

In their footsteps, several other boy groups began making media tours in addition to concert and performances including Monsta X, GOT7, Super Junior, and NCT 127. More, artists like BLACKKPINK, Wendy from Red Velvet, and CL have gone on to collaborate with Western singers Dua Lipa, John Legend, and The Black Eyed Peas. Not only that, but landing on domestic charts hardly makes waves — what matters now is appearing on Billboard’s Music Chart or topping iTunes in several countries.

As these larger and more established groups expand into different markets, what does this mean for new generation groups or those who don’t have popular (Western) appeal? While some of these new group have managed to build up their fan base, they have struggled to have that popularity translate to an international fanbase that makes media tours like the groups mentioned above feasible, like Wanna One. Earlier this year, the group was unable to sell enough tickets for their North American tour and had to downgrade their venue size.

Similarly, having sold over a million albums this year alone putting them on a similar level as EXO and BTS, and breaking other records TWICE have failed to gain international attention and acceptability like BLACKPINK and Red Velvet. Prior to this change in the definition in success, winning on a domestic music program like “M! Countdown” or “Inkigayo,” or maintaining a decent spot on music charts was enough. Now it is not. So what happens now? Will groups be able to be in the top 10 on a music chart and still be considered “flops” if they can reach the level of these other groups?



By O.C


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.

SHINee Tops 25 Regional iTunes Charts With ‘The Story of Light EP.2’

SHINee tops charts with the second part of their sixth studio album, The Story of Light EP.2.

Shinee the story of light
Image source – OSEN News

On June 11, veteran boy group SHINee released the second part of their sixth album The Story of Light EP.2. Moreover, this release, along with the one prior and the ones after, are all part of a structured release in celebration of the group’s 10th anniversary.

Once the album was released, the title song “I Want You,” ranked high on various music sites including Mnet and Naver. Additionally, the EP topped 25 regional album iTunes charts including Denmark, Spain, Chile, Hong Kong, Taiwan, The Philipines, Peru, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, El Salvador, Estonia, and more.

Meanwhile, Minho and Key are set to appear on the tVN talk show “Life Bar.”



Original article

Translated by O.C