Recently, the members of a Korean Idol band have delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The Korean Idol band also became the first K-pop boy group to perform at the 2017 American Music Awards.
The band is called BTS, an acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan. BTS has become the leader of the K-pop industry. They have attracted not only Koreans, but also people around the world including the United States. Why does it have to be BTS out of all the other K-pop bands? Will they have a positive impact for South Korea?
Unlike most Korean boy bands, they produce their own songs and dance moves. In the K-pop industry, most artists are passive about expressing themselves. It is a privilege to make songs on their own, and BTS has been given the chance. Therefore, many of BTS’s songs are based on their experiences such as personal struggles. It caused people - especially youths - to admire their bravery and even be inspired by them. Suga, a member of BTS, once said, “They listened to our thoughts and took greater interest in what we had to say. People didn’t search us up just because of social media.”
The characteristics of BTS were enough to attract the attention of Americans. According to the MV reaction videos about BTS, YouTubers emphasize the powerful dance moves of BTS and spectacular camera work. It may have seemed quite sensational, because those elements are not easily seen from mainstream American music. Such group choreography by BTS may have met cultural demands that Americans were not aware of.
The prosperity of K-pop might have both a good and a bad impact on South Korea. Last year, the agency of BTS made 92 billion won in sales. Some experts predict that if the company were to be listed on the stock market, its corporate value would immediately reach 2 trillion won.
However, there are also concerns that the image of the BTS could hold the image of regular Koreans for foreigners, as there aren’t many famous K-pop bands in the United States. If they fail to maintain a good reputation, a bias against Koreans may be created.
BTS seems to know how to sustain their popularity. RM, a member of BTS said, “There are a lot of driving forces, but I think the main one is faithfulness to the essentials. We are singers and idols, so the place you can see our final product will always be a concert. We try hard to show our true thoughts, so I think that that was able to overcome the language barriers and touch other people’s hearts as well.”
L.L.F reporter Suk-ho Jung