South Korea is likely one of the fastest-growing music markets on the planet. The explanation for this: K-pop. The international spread of the music style earns the nation a number of billion euros a yr. The truth that South Korean pop music has change into so profitable is thanks in no small half to social media and a networked fan neighborhood, together with in Germany.
However the hype does not cease there: Folks in increasingly international locations are getting enthusiastic about South Korean pop music. However why are they so fascinated with it?
A mixture of enjoyable and neighborhood
“Ok-pop is simply one thing that brings me pleasure,” says Melissa Ndugwa. The 21-year-old is the co-founder of Ok-Fusion Leisure, the most important Ok-pop fan gathering in Germany. What excites Ndugwa about Ok-pop?
“Listening to the music, practising the choreography after which dancing along with others is a lot enjoyable,” says Ndugwa. Dancing collectively will not be solely a preferred exercise amongst followers however a central a part of Ok-Pop. The efficiency of the idols, because the Korean pop stars are referred to as, is as vital because the music. The recipe for achievement is catchy melodies, subtle choreography and slick performers.
Ok-pop metropolis: Frankfurt
The Ok-pop stars are function fashions for a lot of of their followers by way of magnificence beliefs, as properly. For some years now, Korean magnificence and care merchandise have been booming in Germany. There are salons providing Korean cosmetics and skincare in a number of German cities, together with Frankfurt. That is the place Germany’s largest Korean neighborhood lives, and town has now change into Germany’s Ok-pop metropolis.
In Could 2022, Europe’s first main Ok-pop competition was held within the central German metropolis, with 70,000 spectators. Titled KPop.Flex, it was attended by stars comparable to Monsta X, Mamamoo and NCT Dream. The Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), a non-public tv and radio station from South Korea, was additionally concerned in organizing the occasion. Apparently, they suspected that Germany might turn into a profitable market.
“Truly, the Ok-pop neighborhood in Germany continues to be small in comparison with the US, Asian and different European international locations. However, this yr, we have seen a giant change. There have been many extra concert events by Korean artists. And there has by no means been a competition in Europe just like the one in Frankfurt,” says Kocky B, the chief of the Ok-pop dance group Shapgang. The 12-member group from Frankfurt performs at competitions and on TikTok, the place they dance the choreographies of fashionable Ok-pop bands, but additionally carry out their very own choreographies.
The usual: Perfection
Kocky B says her fascination with Ok-pop comes from the give attention to the visible components, dance and the colourful, in-your-face, enjoyable manufacturing, which she has not seen within the Western music business.
“Once we began, there have been few individuals who even knew what Ok-pop was. It tended to be laughed at within the dancing scene,” she says. “That has modified tremendously, as a result of the Ok-pop business provides many job alternatives for dancers. Folks now understand how important this market is. Many Western dancers are employed by Ok-pop labels to develop choreography.”
In Ok-pop choreographies, the celebs dance in flawless synchronicity, they usually accomplish that in teams of as much as 20 members. It is all about synchrony, neighborhood — and perfection. This additionally applies to the music, as Isabelle Opitz, editorial director of the German popular culture journal Ok*bang Magazin explains.
“The music itself is produced to a really excessive normal, and songwriters from the European area are sometimes concerned. A label will deliver an enormous staff to Korea. There’s not a lot that may go mistaken. As a fan, you realize what you are getting proper from the beginning,” says Opitz.
Social media takes on a central function
Ok-pop additionally works so properly as a result of it provides a huge package of interaction opportunities, Opitz says. Followers watch each music video, each interview look and are properly knowledgeable concerning the particular person group members.
As well as, many idols star in sequence or motion pictures, and communication through social media is completely coordinated. “By means of platforms like Spotify and YouTube and social networks comparable to Twitter, Ok-pop has change into extra accessible; the neighborhood is extra linked,” Opitz says. “Even when you’ve got nothing to do with Ok-pop in any respect, YouTube suggests content material to you.” Right this moment, there may be somebody in each German college class who listens to Ok-Pop, Opitz says.
Ok-pop idols: Position fashions?
This success mustn’t obscure the truth that there are additionally downsides. Ok-pop is a hard-hitting industrial product; the bands are put collectively by leisure companies. Younger persons are signed up and educated in a focused method — in generally exhausting and considerably doubtful applications. Those that are convincing get a spot in a bunch.
The value of success is excessive: Repeatedly there may be speak of gagging contracts that forbid the idols to have a relationship in public. There have been studies of consuming problems and even suicides among K-pop stars.
“In comparison with the previous, the neighborhood has change into extra attentive to the fact of the business,” says Melissa Ndugwa. Idols are nonetheless function fashions, she says, however are now not glorified as a lot. “In Ok-pop, it is already a scandal if an idol dates anybody. There are stars who have been ostracized for it and needed to finish their careers. On the identical time, they’re solely human.”
This text has been translated from German.