110726 New Topic In Kpop : Overcome Three Main Barriers
Currently, K-pop has broken past the first barrier. That is to say, they have already established the value of their existence. However, this is just the beginning. To globalize K-pop, there are three main issues they need to overcome.
Break away from “Idol Stars”
The first generation of Hallyu was led by actors. Korean dramas were pushed forward in large numbers, with Bae Yong Jun, Lee Byung Hyun, Song Seung Hun, Kwong Sang-Woo and other actors becoming popular as Hallyu idols. However, due to extensive “blank periods” and poor management, the hallyu wave that was led by actors became stagnant.
During this time, the idol stars seized the opportunity and took over this space. Led by TVXQ, and now SNSD, Kara etc, a large volume of girl groups have been gaining the attention of overseas markets. They spearhead the Korean Idol culture, and have broken the geographic barriers between countries.
However, this trend is starting to be a little overdone, and has established the stereotype that “Hallyu = Idol stars.” Aside from music, even dramas such as “Playful Kiss” and “You’re Beautiful” star members from idol groups. To ensure that Hallyu wave can make better progress, aside from appealing to the younger age groups with idol groups, we urgently need to grasp and establish ourselves in a broader age categories and a variety of Hallyu elements. A person related to one of the idol groups said, “We need to discover new hallyu stars, to appeal to the overseas fans who do not like idol groups. If we can give them a stage (opportunity,) then the hallyu wave will be able to progress further.
Break Away From The Japanese Market
Japan, which is located next to Korea is one of the biggest appreciators of the Hallyu culture. From another angle, you can say that it was the Japanese fans’ support that have helped the hallyu stars to grow. Aside from Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and various Asian regions have seen a rise in popularity for Hallyu stars. However the truth is, a majority of the hallyu stars are over-reliant on the Japanese market’s support.
With TVXQ, Big Bang, SNSD, Kara and others, recently everyone is trying to break into the Japanese market. They are very sensitive towards the Oricon rankings. The strange thing is that, compared to the current lack of emphasis on song ranking programs in the Korean market, Korean singers are more sensitive to the ranking charts in Japan. This shows that they are using this (Oricon rankings) as a measure of their popularity in Japan.
Aside from Japan, starting from the time of H.O.T., Hallyu stars have been enjoying great popularity in China. However, the issue is that the public is only focused on a specific few stars. Although Super Junior, Rain, SNSD and other are very popular, but China, unlike Japan, is still unable to allow more groups and singers to actively promote there.
And under such circumstances, the group JYJ released their first English album “The Beginning” in October last year, and was judged as “daring to try something new.” JYJ joined hands with famous American producers Kanye West and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and using the new group name “JYJ” released their first album produced in English. This album bears the significance of “starting their journey towards the world stage.” The three members, who have dominated the Japanese and Asian markets, have set their sights on the global market, and can be regarded as leaders in “breaking away from Japan.”
Someone in the music industry said, “When you analyze the structure of the Chinese market, it’s not hard to know that they are more appealing than the Japanese market. But so far, the progress of singers has not been as smooth as in Japan. Aside from that, they should also be looking at Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan etc, and create more roadways for the Hallyu wave.”
Break Away from Stereotypes!
The first pioneers of the hallyu wave were dramas. “Jewel in the Palace,” “Winter Sonata” made it big, and big stars like Bae Young Jun and Lee Young-Ae were born. Recently, due to “You’re Beautiful,” Jang Geun Suk has become the new hallyu star, but compared to the time of “Winter Sonata,” the power of dramas in the hallyu wave has been considerably diminished.
And the space left by the dramas was filled by K-pop. The hallyu market which was dominated by male idols has now hit a turning point led by SNSD and Kara. K-pop can be considered as the successor to J-pop, which has captured the Asian music market.
On the other hand, the power of the hallyu wave at Chungmuro (T/N: refers to the film industry – Chungmuro is the street in Korea that is famous for culture & film) has become plain. Actors who have become hallyu stars through their dramas also boosts the popularity of the movies they are featured in, but using popularity to break into the Japanese film industry is not enough, a situation where “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Someone related to sales in the hallyu market said, “Korean movies have been promoted in various overseas markets, but the effect is not strong enough to be considered part of the hallyu wave. Unlike television dramas which can be watched on public broadcast, movies require an entrance fee, so the visibility among the masses is lower.”
If we want to the multi-faceted Korean culture to be embraced in all fields, not just for dramas and music, we need to promote our movies, games and food as well as other areas, and introduce more variety.