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The rise of k-pop, and what it reveals about society and culture.

Initially a musical subculture popular in South Korea during the 1990s, Korean Pop, or K-pop, has transformed into a global cultural phenomenon.

Characterized by catchy hooks, polished choreography, grandiose live performances, and impeccably produced music videos, K-pop — including music by groups like BTS and BLACKPINK — now frequently tops the Billboard charts, attracts a fiercely dedicated online following, and generates billions of dollars.

Yale sociologist Grace Kao, who became fascinated with the music after watching a 2019 performance by BTS on Saturday Night Live, now studies the subgenres of K-pop and its cultural, sociological, and political effects.

Kao, the IBM Professor of Sociology and professor of ethnicity, race, and migration in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Center on Empirical Research in Stratification and Inequality (CERSI), recently spoke with Yale News about the kinds of research her interest in K-pop has prompted, why the genre’s rise has been important to so many Asian Americans, and why she urges today’s students to become familiar with various musical genres.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

You have said that watching BTS on Saturday Night Live changed your view of K-pop. How did that performance transform your interest in K-pop from a personal one into an academic one?

Grace Kao: I saw that performance, and it stayed in the back of my mind. Then, when we were on lockdown because of COVID, being stuck at home set the stage for having time to watch more K-pop videos. At first, I was just watching them for fun. I knew K-pop was something important, but I didn’t know anything about it. I thought “I should educate myself on this.” My current research collaborator, Wonseok Lee [an ethnomusicologist and a musician at Washington University], and a Yale graduate student, Meera Choi, who’s Korean, offered guidance.

I’ve always been interested in race and ethnicity and Asian Americans. I knew in my gut that K-pop was important, but it was hard to figure out exactly how I could work on it, since I’m a quantitative sociologist. What's fun about being a researcher and being in academia is that we can learn new things and push ourselves. I think that’s the best part of this job.

Grace Kao recommends this playlist to get started.

When I started working on it, I tried to learn without having a clear research question. Then, along with my collaborator, Lee, we started thinking about papers that we could work on together. I was also able to take first-semester Korean, so now I can read Korean, and Choi and I can begin working on different research papers.

What kinds of research are you doing?

Kao: One paper is about the link between ’80s synth-pop and very current K-pop. Others have argued that K-pop borrows heavily from American Black music — R&B, hip hop, and so forth. And it’s true, but we’re arguing that K-pop has links to all these different genres because the production is much faster. We also finished another paper looking at the links between New Wave synth-pop to Japanese city pop [which was also popular in the 1980s] and a Korean version of city pop. And we’re probably going to start a reggae paper next.

In another project, with two data scientists we’re looking at Twitter data related to a 2021 BTS tweet that happened about a week after a gunman in Atlanta murdered eight women, including six of Asian descent. The tweet, which was about #StopAsianHate, or #StopAAPIHate, was the most retweeted tweet of the year. Everyone in that world knows that K-pop is extremely influential, but there are moments now where it seems like it’s ripe for political action because fans are already really organized. We’re looking at how the conversation about the shootings before and after they tweeted changed. The analysis involves millions of tweets, so it's very data intensive work.

Last March you gave a talk on campus in which you talked about the role of K-pop in “transformative possibilities for Asian Americans.” What is an example of those possibilities?

Kao: Partly it’s just visibility. The SNL performance by BTS was really important for people. Especially people my age, we had never seen a bunch of East Asian people on the stage singing in a non-English, non-Western language. I knew that was an important moment regardless of whether or not you like the music or the performance.

I think during COVID, BTS made Asian faces more visible. They were on the cover of Time magazine, every major publication. They were everywhere. But it also brought up questions of xenophobia. People were making fun of them because of how they looked. At the time there was also the extra baggage that comes with being Asian. But any time BTS were attacked, because their fandom is so big and so passionate, their fans would jump on anyone who did anything to them. Then journalists would cover it, and suddenly there were all these stories about how you shouldn’t be racist against Asians.

Many of us who study Asian Americans have observed over time that it often seems acceptable for people to make fun of Asian things. Just by virtue of the fact that it’s [BTS], that their fans are protecting them, and that that gets elevated to the news is a big deal. President Biden invited them to the White House. These are all things I would have had trouble imagining even just five years ago.

You teach a first-year seminar, “Race and Place in British New Wave, K-pop, and Beyond,” which focuses on the emphasis on aesthetics in both genres’ popularity. What understanding do you hope students walk away with?

Kao: I want students to take pop culture very seriously. Sometimes pop music seems not serious, but so many people consume it that it can have pervasive and serious consequences on how people see folks of different race, ethnic, gender, and national identities.

Another thing I wanted students to learn about is genres of music. Students today like music, but they consume it very differently than people did when in college. We listened to the radio or watched MTV, so we were fed something from a DJ or from actual people who were programming the content. You’d end up listening to a lot of music that you didn’t like, but you’d also have a better sense of genres than students now. Today students consume music through Spotify or YouTube and so forth, which use algorithms to give you songs that are similar to the songs you liked, but not necessarily from the same genre. Students can have diverse and wide-ranging experiences with music, but I found that they have trouble identifying that any particular song is part of a genre. So I feel like it’s important for them to listen to a lot of music.

I want them to consume it because sometimes we think we can comment on things that we don’t know anything about. We don’t actually consume it. I think it’s important for students to walk away knowing something about these genres and to be able to identify them: this is a reggae song, this is a ska song, this is synth-pop, et cetera.

What K-pop groups are you currently into?

Kao: Besides BTS, I enjoy listening to groups such as SEVENTEEN, ENHYPEN, NewJeans, Super Junior, and new group TRENDZ.

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Essay On K-pop: Best Topics And Tips For Choosing

It all started with gangnam style – the video that went viral in 2012, and went on to top music charts in over 30 countries..

The song earned the Guinness World Record as the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views and paved the way for the Korean wave of pop culture and ideas. The seldom-known genre of music has garnered a lot of influence, and the music industry is ranked among the top ten music markets worldwide. If you’re a student or researcher, let us show you the best topics about pop culture you can write a paper on and how to choose one yourself.

Kpop as a Research Topic: Why to Select

Kpop or Korean pop is a fast-rising music style and popular culture, so it is quite a widespread research subject for many. But not every student is genuinely interested in music. It’s better to choose everything to taste. However, if this is an assignment from the teacher, or you just lack skill, pay someone to write your paper on for 100% original academic essays. Besides expertise, also check out topic concepts for inspiration if you’re stuck. When students pay for college essay, they ensure that the writing is not plagiarized or badly written. And the theme does not matter to professionals. Meanwhile, if pop is something you’ve been crazy about, go ahead and enjoy completing your assignment.

10 Best K-pop Topic Ideas To Write About

The popularity of pop has broken the language barrier and has raised awareness of Asian music and culture. It has also spread inclusion and diversity over the world and broken stereotypes. Below are popular kpop essay topics and angles to explore for your article:

  • The globalization of K-pop: A study of the factors that have contributed to the global popularity of Korean pop music.
  • Pop and its impact on Korean culture: A discussion of how pop has influenced the cultural identity of South Korea.
  • The role of social media in the success of Korean pop: An analysis of how social media has helped to promote and popularize pop.
  • The rise of BTS and the impact of their music on the international music industry: A study of how BTS has broken down barriers and achieved success in the US and other global markets.
  • The influence of Hallyu on fashion and beauty trends: A discussion of how pop has influenced the beauty and fashion industry both in Korea and internationally.
  • The dark side of pop in Korea: An exploration of the challenges faced by pop idols and the negative effects of the industry on their mental and physical health.
  • The impact of pop on the Korean economy: A study of the economic benefits of the pop industry for South Korea.
  • K-pop and gender representation: An analysis of the way pop portrays gender and sexuality in its music and visuals.
  • The role of K-pop in promoting Korean language and culture globally: A discussion of how pop has helped to promote the Korean language and culture around the world.
  • K-pop and fandom culture: An exploration of the unique and passionate fandom culture that surrounds pop and how it differs from other music fandoms.

Tips for Choosing a K-pop Essay Topic

Before choosing a topic, read the assignment brief and the directions. This will help you understand the requirements you must satisfy for a perfect grade. Then, choose a topic you have an opinion about. You won’t produce an A-grade article about something if you don’t have passion for it. Hence, select an intriguing theme. It should be something you already know, care about, or would like to learn more about. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I interested in this topic?
  • Is it appropriate for my audience?
  • What is my purpose for deciding on this theme?
  • Can I develop it into an article within the time frame and word count required?
  • Can I research it adequately to meet the source requirements?
  • Is the topic too broad or narrow to fit the requirement?

If a subject is too broad, narrow it down to make it easier to manage. One way to do this is to tackle the problem from a specific perspective. Don’t combine topics or attempt to be overly ambitious. Instead, reduce the scope, and don’t be shy to ask your tutor for recommendations.

Things to Pay Attention to When Writing Your Kpop Paper

There are various ways to format your article. Pay attention to the following:

  • Follow Structural Requirements

There are different types of essay writing. Your paper can be persuasive, informative, or descriptive. It all depends on the purpose of writing an academic essay or article. Most papers follow the introduction–body–conclusion structure. But the body paragraph differs depending on the article type. Pay attention to the guideline and use the following to structure your article:

  • Introduction: open your article with a hook – something fascinating to capture the reader’s attention. It can be a question, a fact, or a famous quote. Follow it with your thesis statement and introduce the concepts you want to discuss.
  • Body paragraph: discuss the concept in detail using paragraphs. If the brief does not provide instructions on the number of sections to write, use your discretion. But only use one paragraph to discuss a concept to aid understanding. Use transition words to flow between sentences and maintain coherence.
  • Conclusion: recap the main points of your article here and leave a call to action.

2.    Research The Topic

The next thing to do after deciding on the topic is to spend time researching Korean pop culture. Read books, watch interviews, and invest quality time into listening to the songs. You can join a few fan clubs to know what happens behind the scene. If something is not clear, don’t hesitate to consult your instructor for further instruction.

3.    Reference To Avoid Plagiarism

Don’t forget to cite sources you use for your article to avoid plagiarism. Popular referencing styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. Read the brief to know the required citation style.

4.    Proofread and Edit

After writing your article, manually read through for grammar, sentence, and punctuation mistakes. Ask a friend to also read through for errors you missed or use an online grammar checker for more efficiency. Submit your paper only after proofreading it.

South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest country by economy. Its music culture started making worldwide headlines and has impacted the sector a lot. This didn’t only happen in Korea but also in the United States, Germany, and other countries. Popular culture has broken several barriers, but it is not without its backlash. As a result, it is the ideal space for a writer to explore.

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Order bidding, kpop essay sample on its sensational popularity.

K-pop (Korean pop music) is nothing new to the global audience, but now, with the emergence of global K-pop groups such as BTS and BLACKPINK, this genre of music is becoming more and more popular.

K-pop is a generic name given to music from South Korea.

Kpop is a global phenomenon that invaded modern culture with the speed of light. It seems that the popularity of Korean culture began not only in visual and musical art, but in Korean cosmetics five years ago. Actually, Kpop takes its roots from the year 1992, and thanks to the bands Seo Taiji and Boys, we have become familiar with modern and unique Korean-style popular music. The history of how Korean popular music influenced the whole world is a great topic for an essay about Kpop.

essay about Kpop

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Even the most skeptical spectator can’t take their sight away from the screen when they see modern Kpop groups of beautiful singing girls and boys. That’s the most typical reason teachers like to assign such topics for essays as Kpop.

Some students don’t know how to start their research. We propose these students to pay attention to the samples of essays on WriteMyEssayOnline. Here you can get inspiration for any subject and discipline. WriteMyEssayOnline offers students to read an example of an academic essay on Kpop to understand better how to write an exciting essay about modern culture.

Why Is Kpop So Popular? Korean pop is a musical genre that has taken the world by storm. According to a Tellwut survey, one out of three people has heard of Kpop (“Kpop?”). Kpop artists are idolized by their fans, so they are often called idols and for good reason. They are people of many talents, and their catchy music videos have imaginative choreography, colorful costumes, and good-looking singers who exude a special charm. How did K-pop start? Of course, initially K-pop was born in South Korea, but soon it captured the imagination of audiences throughout Asian. K-pop is not just a musical genre, because it followed the development of the Korean information technology industry and made the most of all the latest developments and technological innovations. The history of K-pop began in 1992 with the performance of the South Korean boy band Seo Taiji and Boys. They were the first to attempt to “Koreanize” modern American rap, adding dance and a Korean artistic sensibility to the music. Later, one of the members of Seo Taiji and Boys, Yang Hyun Suk, opened YG Entertainment, a record label and talent agency. By the end of the 90s, K-pop had become not just a popular music genre, but a national treasure, along with Korean dramas. The state began to use content as a tool of soft influence on neighboring countries – Japan and China, and then far beyond Asia. The rapid spread of Korean culture has been described as the “Hallyu effect” (or “Korean wave”), with this effect reverberating through the South Korean economy. In 2004, the export of all entertainment content amounted to 0.2% of the country’s GDP and was estimated at $1.87 billion, and 15 years later – it had already reached $12.3 billion. Most popular bands The band BTS epitomizes K-pop. Due to the popularity of K-pop, even those who haven’t been following this musical trend may have heard of BTS. BTS along with other Korean artists appear in the world rankings of ‘persons of the year,’ become ambassadors of luxury fashion houses, and even release collaborations with tech giants. But all this did not come overnight. K-pop made PSY a star with his viral track Gangnam Style and gave the world the likes of 2NE1, Big Bang and Blackpink, all of whom also have record-breaking hits. After YG Entertainment, entertainment companies SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment entered the Korean market and contributed to the popularization of K-pop. The basis of the spread in global popularity, and not just in the Asian region, was the spread of social networks and mobile devices with internet access. Thanks to the creation of accounts on YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, representatives of the K-pop genre have become incredibly popular all over the world. Reasons for popularity First of all, Kpop songs are catchy, and it is hard for listeners to forget them. An author of the American music magazine Rolling Stone believes that Korean popular music “preys on listeners’ heads with repeated hooks” (Benjamin). It is hard to deny his statement considering the overwhelming popularity of “Gangnam Style” with its 3.5 billion views on YouTube (Park). Furthermore, Korean music videos are also known for astonishing visuals. These videos glitter with the bright colors of the costumes and lively dance numbers that are hard to forget. One of the most memorable music videos is “Catallena” by Orange Caramel that shows different sushi sets represented as real people. It should also be mentioned that all singers have a unique style and image. Actually, it is crucial to be extremely attractive and multi-talented to be successful in this industry. For instance, the boy band GOT7 made spectacular tricks and elements from martial arts a special part of its performance (Wang). Rumor has it that in the Asian region there are literally K-pop farms that churn out groups and keep them in optimal shape. And the reason is simple – it is a very, very profitable business. Thus, the popularity of Kpop is caused by multiple factors. Undoubtedly, the music is good, but most importantly, beautiful Korean singers hook the audience with catchy tunes and spectacular dances. That is what makes Kpop not just a genre, but a global phenomenon. Works Cited Benjamin, Jeff. “The 10 K-Pop Groups Most Likely to Break in America.” Rolling Stone , 25 June 2018, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020. Jae-sang, Park. “PSY – GANGNAM STYLE(강남스타일) M/V.” YouTube , uploaded by officialpsy, 15 June 2012, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020. “Kpop?” Tellwut. 2013, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020. Orange Caramel. “[MV] ORANGE CARAMEL ‘까탈레나(Catallena)’ Music video.” YouTube , uploaded by PLEDIS ENTERTAINMENT, 12 March 2014, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020. Wang, Angelina. “K-Pop’s GOT7 Has It All: Glamour, Stellar Sound, Killer Good Looks, and True Diversity in an Otherwise Strictly Controlled Industry.” South China Morning Post, Young Post, 15 Aug. 2019, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

What Else to Analyze In Your K-Pop Paper

If you need more ideas about what to analyze in your essay, check this out:

  • BTS and BLACKPINK and how they influenced the development of K-pop.
  • Comeback (every release of new music since debut).
  • Dance practices.
  • Fancam (video made by fans or music shows featuring one particular idol during a performance).

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How K-pop became a global phenomenon

No country takes its fluffy pop music more seriously than South Korea.

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They call it Hallyu, the Korean wave: the idea that South Korean pop culture has grown in prominence to become a major driver of global culture, seen in everything from Korean dramas on Netflix to Korean skincare regimens dominating the cosmetics industry to delicious Korean tacos on your favorite local menu. And at the heart of Hallyu is the ever-growing popularity of K-pop — short, of course, for Korean pop music.

K-pop has become a truly global phenomenon thanks to its distinctive blend of addictive melodies, slick choreography and production values, and an endless parade of attractive South Korean performers who spend years in grueling studio systems learning to sing and dance in synchronized perfection.

Hallyu has been building for two decades , but K-pop in particular has become increasingly visible to global audiences in the past five to 10 years. South Korean artists have hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart at least eight times since the Wonder Girls first cracked it in 2009 with their crossover hit “Nobody” — released in four different languages, including English — and the export of K-pop has ballooned South Korea’s music industry to an impressive $5 billion industry .

Now, with South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang at a moment of extremely heightened geopolitical tensions , K-pop has taken on a whole new kind of sociopolitical significance, as South Korea proudly displays its best-known export before the world.

How did K-pop become a $5 billion global industry?

essay kpop

Vox explore K-pop’s elaborate music videos, adoring fans, and killer choreography for our Netflix series Explained .

Watch now on Netflix.

What the Winter Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies told us about K-pop (and vice versa)

During the Olympic opening ceremonies on February 9, 2018, athletes marched in the Parade of Nations to the accompaniment of a select group of K-pop hits , each playing into the image South Korea wants to present right now: one of a country that’s a fully integrated part of the global culture.

The Parade of Nations songs all have significant international and digital presences, and each advertises the cross-cultural fluency of K-pop. Twice’s “Likey” is a huge recent hit for the group, and recently made it to 100 million views on YouTube faster than any other song by a K-pop girl group. (The video prominently features the girls on a fun field trip to Vancouver, marketing the idea that they’re at home all over the world.) Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby” was one of the first K-pop hits to make inroads in American culture and was featured on Glee’ s K-pop episode along with “Gangnam Style,” which also played during the Parade of Nations.

Psy’s ubiquitous 2012 hit is part doofy comedy and part clear-eyed satire, made by a musician who’s part of a wave of South Korean musicians who’ve studied at American music schools. “Gangnam Style” spent five years racking up more than 3 billion views on YouTube, reigning as the most-viewed video in the platform’s history before being dethroned in 2017.

As a whole, these songs and performers show us that K-pop stars can excel at everything from singing to comedy to rap to dance to social commentary. And their fun, singable melodies make it clear that the South Korean music industry has perfected the pop production machine into an effervescent assembly line of ridiculously catchy tunes sung by ridiculously talented people in ridiculously splashy videos. When Red Velvet sing, “Bet you wanna (bet you wanna) dance like this” in their single “Red Flavor,” they’re sending a message to the world that South Korea is modern but wholesome, colorful, inviting, and fun.

And at the Olympics closing ceremonies, we saw live performances from two more K-pop icons: solo artist CL, formerly a member of the powerhouse girl group 2NE1, and multi-national band Exo. CL’s appearance was a testament to her success in achieving one of the holy grails for K-Pop — a crossover into US fame, or at least onto the Billboard Hot 100. CL has landed on the list twice since 2015.

Exo, meanwhile, is arguably one of the two or three biggest K-Pop successes going right now. The band was a perfect fit for the Olympics — they’re multilingual and were formed with the intention of performing in Mandarin and Japanese as well as South Korea. And for several years, Exo was split into two subgroups, one performing mainly in Korea and one mainly in China. All of this made them a great choice to serve as a symbolic transition between nations, as Tokyo gets ready to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, followed by Beijing hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Prominently missing from the live performance roster at the Olympics was the most popular K-pop band in the universe at the moment: BTS. BTS became an uncontested US phenomenon in 2017, with two songs hitting the Billboard Hot 100, a huge performance at the American Music Awards, a New Year’s Eve performance in Times Square, and a remix of their latest single, “Mic Drop,” done by Steve Aoki. If it’s possible to ascribe a tipping point to a “wave” that seems to be endless, BTS might be it; it certainly seems that the all-boy group has gone as far as a South Korean band can go in terms of making inroads into American culture — they recently graced the cover of American Billboard magazine. But while the band was missing from the Olympics, their song “DNA” — the other of their pair of 2017 hits — did at least play during the opening ceremonies, much to the delight of fans.

None of this is accidental. K-pop has become the international face of South Korea thanks to an extremely regimented, coordinated production system. More than any other international music industry, K-pop has been strategically designed to earworm its way into your brain — and to elevate South Korea and its culture onto the world stage.

How did we get here? Through a combination of global political changes, savvy corporatization and media management, and a heck of a lot of raw talent being ground through a very powerful stardom mill.

K-pop began in 1992 with one electric hip-hop performance

K-pop as we know it wouldn’t exist without democracy and television — specifically, South Korea’s reformation of its democratic government in 1987, with its accompanying modernization and lightening of censorship, and the effect this change had on television.

Prior to the establishment of the nation’s Sixth Republic , there were only two broadcast networks in the country, and they largely controlled what music South Koreans listened to; singers and musicians weren’t much more than tools of the networks. Networks introduced the public to musical stars primarily through weekend music talent shows. Radio existed but, like the TV networks, was under tight state control. Independent music production didn’t really exist, and rock music was controversial and subject to banning ; musicians and songs were primarily introduced to the public through the medium of the televised talent show, and radio served as little more than a subsidiary platform for entertainers who succeeded on those weekend TV competitions.

Before the liberalization of South Korean media in the late ‘80s, the music produced by broadcast networks was primarily either slow ballads or “trot,” a Lawrence Welk-ish fusion of traditional music with old pop standards. After 1987, though, the country’s radio broadcasting expanded rapidly, and South Koreans became more regularly exposed to more varieties of music from outside the country, including contemporary American music.

But TV was still the country’s dominant, centralized form of media: As of 1992, national TV networks had penetrated above 99 percent of South Korean homes, and viewership was highest on the weekends, when the talent shows took place. These televised talent shows were crucial in introducing music groups to South Korean audiences; they still have an enormous cultural impact and remain the single biggest factor in a South Korean band’s success.

As Moonrok editor Hannah Waitt points out in her excellent series on the history of K-pop, K-pop is unusual as a genre because it has a definitive start date, thanks to a band called Seo Taiji and Boys. Seo Taiji had previously been a member of the South Korean heavy metal band Sinawe , which was itself a brief but hugely influential part of the development of Korean rock music in the late ‘80s. After the band broke up, he turned to hip-hop and recruited two stellar South Korean dancers, Yang Hyun-suk and Lee Juno, to join him as backups in a group dubbed Seo Taiji and Boys. On April 11, 1992, they performed their single “Nan Arayo (I Know)” on a talent show:

Not only did the Boys not win the talent show, but the judges gave the band the lowest score of the evening. But immediately after the song debuted, “I Know” went on to top South Korea’s singles charts for a record-smashing 17 weeks, which would stand for more than 15 years as the longest No. 1 streak in the country’s history.

“I Know” represented the first time modern American-style pop music had been fused with South Korean culture. Seo Taiji and Boys were innovators who challenged norms around musical styles, song topics, fashion, and censorship. They sang about teen angst and the social pressure to succeed within a grueling education system, and insisted on creating their own music and writing their own songs outside of the manufactured network environment.

By the time Seo Taiji and Boys officially disbanded in 1996, they had changed South Korea’s musical and performance landscape, paving the way for other artists to be even more experimental and break even more boundaries — and for music studios to quickly step in and take over, forming an entire new studio system from the remnants of the broadcast-centered system.

Between 1995 and 1998, three powerhouse music studios appeared: SM Entertainment (often referred to as SM Town) in 1995; JYP Entertainment in 1997; and YG Entertainment in 1998, created by one of the members of Seo Taiji and Boys, Yang Hyun-suk. Together, these studios began deliberately cultivating what would become known as idol groups.

The first idol group in South Korea appeared on the scene in 1996, when SM founder Lee Soo-man created a group called H.O.T. by assembling five singers and dancers who represented what he believed teens wanted to see from a modern pop group.

H.O.T. shared traits with today’s idol groups: a combination of singing, dancing, and rapping, and disparate personalities united through music. In 1999, the band was chosen to perform in a major benefit concert with Michael Jackson, in part because of their potential to become international pop stars — an indication that even in the ’90s, the industry was attuned to K-pop’s potential for global success.

That potential can be seen in the studios’ eager promotion of multilingual artists like BoA , who made her public debut at the age of 13 in 2000 and in the ensuing years has become one of South Korea’s best-known exports thanks to a brand built on raw talent and multicultural positivity.

All the while, K-pop as a whole was building its own brand, one based on flash, style, and a whole lot of quality.

Don’t ask what makes a K-pop song. Ask what makes a K-pop performer.

There are three things that make K-pop such a visible and unique contributor to the realm of pop music: exceptionally high-quality performance (especially dancing), an extremely polished aesthetic, and an “in-house” method of studio production that churns out musical hits the way assembly lines churn out cars.

No song more perfectly embodies these characteristics than Girls’ Generation’s 2009 hit “Gee,” a breakout success that came at a moment when K-pop was starting to turn heads internationally due to a number of recent milestone hits — notably Big Bang’s “Haru, Haru,” Wonder Girls’ “Nobody,” and Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra.” “Gee” was a viral internet earworm , breaking out of typical K-pop fan spaces and putting Girls’ Generation within striking distance of US fame.

The combination of cheeky, colorful concept, clever choreography, cute girls, and catchy songwriting makes “Gee” the quintessential K-pop song: It’s fun, infectious, and memorable — and it was all but algorithmically produced by a studio machine responsible for delivering perfect singing, perfect dancing, perfect videos, and perfect entertainment. The then-nine members of Girls’ Generation were factory-assembled into the picture-perfect, male-gaze-ready dolls you see in the song’s music video via extreme studio oversight and years of hard work from each woman — a combined 52 years of training in total, beginning in their childhoods.

Through highly competitive auditions, starting around ages 10 to 12, music studios induct talented children into the K-pop regimen. The children attend special schools where they take specialized singing and dancing lessons ; they learn how to moderate their public behavior and prepare for life as a pop star; they spend hours in daily rehearsals and perform in weekend music shows as well as special group performances. Through these performances, lucky kids can gain fan followings before they even officially “debut.” And when they’re old enough, if they’re really one of the lucky few, the studios will place them into an idol group or even, occasionally, launch them as a solo artist.

Once an idol group has been trained to perfection, the studios generate pop songs for them, market them, put them on TV, send them on tour, and determine when they’ll next make their “comeback” — a term that usually signals a band’s latest album release, generally accompanied by huge fanfare, special TV appearances, and a totally new thematic concept.

Because of the control they exert over their artists, South Korean music studios are directly responsible for shaping the global image of K-pop as a genre. But the industry is notoriously exploitative , and studio life is grueling to the point that it can easily cross over to abusive ; performers are regularly signed to long-term contracts, known as “slave contracts,” when they are still children, which closely dictate their private behavior, dating life, and public conduct.

The studios are also a breeding ground for predatory behavior and harassment from studio executives. In recent years, increasing public attention to these problems has given rise to change; in 2017, multiple studios agreed to significant contract reform . Still, as the recent suicide of Shinee artist Kim Jong-hyun revealed, the pressures of studio culture are rarely made public and can take a serious toll on those who grow up within the system.

Despite all this, the cloistered life of a K-pop star is coveted by thousands of South Korean teens and preteens — so much so that walk-in auditions to scout kids for the studio programs are frequently held in South Korea and New York.

In addition to studio auditions, a wave of new TV audition shows have sprung up in the past few years, giving unknowns a chance to be discovered and build a fan base. Often called idol shows or survival shows, these audition shows are comparable to American Idol and X-Factor. Competitors on these shows can make it big on their own or be grouped up — like the recently debuted group JBJ (short for the fan-dubbed moniker “Just Be Joyful”), consisting of boys who competed in the talent show Produce 101 Season 2 last year and then got put in a temporary group after fans started making composite Instagram photos of them all together. The band only has a seven-month contract; enjoy it while it lasts!

essay kpop

These TV-sponsored idol shows have caused pushback from the studios, which see them as producing immature talent — and, of course, cutting into studio profits. That’s because a K-pop group’s success is directly tied to its live TV performances. Today there are numerous talent shows, along with many more variety shows and well-known chart TV countdown shows like Inkigayo and M Countdown, which factor into how successful — and therefore bankable — a K-pop idol or idol group is seen to be. Winning a weekend music show or weekly chart countdown remains one of the highest honors an artist or musical group can attain in the South Korean music industry.

Because of this dependence on live performance shows, a song’s performance elements — how easy it is to sing live, how easy it is for an audience to pick up and sing along with, the impact of its choreography, its costuming — are all crucial to its success. Groups routinely go all-out for their performances: Witness After-School learning to perform an entire drumline sequence for live performances of their single “Bang!” as well as pretty much every live performance mentioned here .

All of this emphasis on live performances make fans an extremely active part of the experience. K-pop fans have perfected the art of the fan chant , in which fans in live studio audiences and live performances will shout alternate fan chants over the musical intros to songs, and sometimes as a counterpoint to choruses, as a show of unity and support.

This collectivity has helped ensure that K-pop fan bases both at home and abroad are absolutely massive, and intense to a degree that’s hard to overstate. Fans intensely support their favorite group members, and many fans go out of their way to make sure their favorite idols look and dress the part of world-class performers . K-Con, the largest US K-pop convention, has grown exponentially over the years and now includes both Los Angeles and New York.

(There are also anti-fans who target band members — most notoriously an anti who attempted to poison a member of DBSK in 2006. But the less said about them, the better.)

You might expect that in the face of all this external pressure, K-pop groups would be largely dysfunctional messes. Instead, modern-day K-pop appears to be a seamless, gorgeous, well-oiled machine — complete with a few glaring contradictions that make it all the more fascinating.

Modern K-pop is a bundle of colorful contradictions

Though government censorship of South Korean music has relaxed over time, it still exists, as does industry self-censorship in response to a range of controversial topics. South Korean social mores stigmatize everything from sexual references and innuendo to references to drugs and alcohol — as well as actual illicit behavior by idols — and addressing any of these subjects can cause a song to be arbitrarily banned from radio play and broadcast. Songs dealing with serious themes or thorny issues are largely off limits, queer identity is generally only addressed as subtext, and lyrics are usually scrubbed down to fluffy platitudes. Thematically, it’s often charming and innocent, bordering on adolescent.

Despite these limitations, K-pop has grown over time in its nuance and sophistication thanks to artists and studios who have often either risked censorship or relied on visual cues and subtext to fill in the gaps.

Case in point: the 2000 hit “Adult Ceremony” from singer and actor Park Ji-yoon, which marked the first time a K-pop hit successfully injected adult sexuality into fairly innocuous lyrics, representing a notable challenge to existing depictions of femininity in South Korean pop culture.

The women of K-pop are typically depicted as traditional versions of femininity. This usually manifests in one of several themes: adorable, shy schoolgirls who sing about giddy crushes; knowing, empowered women who need an “oppa” (a strong older male figure) to fulfill their fantasies; or knowing, empowered women who reject male validation , even as the studio tailors the group’s members for adult male consumption.

essay kpop

An idol group’s image often changes from one album to the next, undergoing a total visual and tonal overhaul to introduce a new concept. However, there are a few girl groups — 2NE1 and f(x) spring most readily to mind — that have been marketed as breaking away from this gender-centric mode of performance; they’re packaged as rebels and mavericks regardless of what their album is about, even while they operate within the studio culture.

Yet the women of K-pop are also increasingly producing self-aware videos that navigate their own relationships to these rigid impositions. Witness Sunmi, a former member of Wonder Girls, tearing down her own carefully cultivated public image in her recent single “Heroine,” a song about a woman surviving a failed relationship. In the video, Sunmi transforms physically , growing more empowered and defiant as she faces the camera and finally confronts a billboard of herself.

If songs for women in K-pop break down along the “virgin/mature woman” divide, songs for men tend to break down along a “bad boy/sophisticated man” line. Occasionally they even break down in the same song — like Block B’s “Jackpot,” the video for which sees the band posing as wildly varied members of a renegade circus, uniting to kidnap actress Kim Sae-ron into a life of cheerful hedonism.

Male performance groups are generally permitted a broader range of topics than K-pop’s women: BTS notably sings about serious issues like teen social pressures, while many other boy bands feature a wide range of narrative concepts. But male entertainers get held to arguably even more exacting physical and technical standards than their female counterparts, with precision choreography — like Speed’s all-Heely dance routine below — being a huge part of the draw for male idol groups:

If you’re wondering whether co-ed bands coexist in these studio cultures, the answer is, not really. Most of the time , co-ed groups tend to be one-off pairings of members from different bands for one or two singles, or novelty acts that are quickly split into gendered subgroups. The most famous actual co-ed band is probably the brother-sister duo Akdong Musician, a pair of cute kids who made it big on an audition show; and even they get split up a lot to pair with other singers. (See the “Hi Suhyun” clip above, which features Lee Hi and the sisterly half of AM, Lee Su-hyun.)

It probably goes without saying that this traditional gender divide isn’t exactly fertile ground for queer idols to thrive. Despite a number of K-pop stars openly supporting LGBTQ rights, the industry aggressively markets homoeroticism in its videos but remains generally homophobic. But progress is happening here, too: South Korea’s first openly gay idol just appeared on the scene in early 2018. His name is Holland, and his first single debuted to a respectable 6.5 million views.

Hip-hop tends to be a dominant part of the K-pop sound, particularly among male groups, a trend that has opened up the genre to criticism for appropriation. South Korea grapples with a high degree of cultural racism, and recent popular groups have come under fire for donning blackface , appropriating Native American iconography , and much more . Still, K-pop has increasingly embraced diversity in recent years, with black members joining K-pop groups and duo Coco Avenue putting out a bilingual single in 2017.

Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention South Korea’s emergent indie music scene , which includes a thriving crop of independent rap, hip-hop, and, increasingly, R&B artists , as well as a host of grassroots artists who’ve made waves on SoundCloud .

Taking stock of all these changes and paradoxes, we might be able to extrapolate a bit about what the future of K-pop looks like: even more diverse, with an ever-increasing number of independent artists shaking up the studio scene, even though most of them will still have to play within the system’s rigid standards.

This gradual evolution suggests that part of the reason K-pop has been able to make international inroads in recent years is that it’s been able to push against its own rigid norms, through the use of modern themes and sophisticated subtexts, without sacrificing the incredibly polished packaging that makes it so innately compelling. That would seem to be a formula for continued global success — especially now that South Korea and its culture has the world’s attention. Hallyu may swell or subside, but the K-pop production machine goes ever on. And from here, the future looks fantastic, baby .

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Nao Niitsu practices dancing to K-pop.

The K-pop wannabes – a photo essay

An estimated 1 million wannabe stars of K-pop, from South Korea, Japan and beyond, are hoping to get a taste of fame by competing in auditions for talent agencies, which take on a select few as trainees

Photography by Kim Hong-Ji and Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters. Reporting by Ju-min Park

Y uuka Hasumi put high school in Japan on hold and flew to South Korea in February to try to become a K-pop star, even if that meant long hours of vocal and dance training, no privacy, no boyfriend, and no phone. Hasumi, 17, joined Acopia school, a prep school in Seoul offering young people from Japan a shot at K-pop stardom, teaching them the dance moves, the songs and the language.

Yuuka Hasumi attends a Korean language class in Seoul, South Korea

Yuuka Hasumi attends a Korean language class in Seoul, South Korea

She is one of an estimated 1 million K-pop star wannabes, from South Korea and beyond, hoping to succeed at highly competitive auditions held by major talent agencies, which will take on a select few as “trainees”.

“It is tough,” Hasumi says in Japanese, drenched in sweat from a dance lesson she attended with her 15-year-old friend Yuho Wakamatsu, also from Japan .

Yuuka Hasumi and Ibuki Ito, who want to become K-pop stars, perform at an Acopia School party in Seoul, South Korea.

Yuuka Hasumi and Ibuki Ito perform at an Acopia school party in Seoul. Below: Hasumi shops after class

Hasumi shops after class

A microphone and speakers at a street performance in the Hongdae area of Seoul; Hasumi promotes her Instagram account during the performance

Yuho Wakamatsu who also wants to become a K-pop star, takes photographs of Hasumi during a training session in Seoul

Yuho Wakamatsu takes photographs of Hasumi during a training session

“Going through strict training and taking my skill to a higher level to a perfect stage, I think that’s when it is good to make a debut,” she says.

Paying up to $3,000 a month for training and board, 500 or so young Japanese people join Acopia each year. The school also fixes auditions for its candidates with talent management companies, which have been the driving force behind the “Korean-wave” pop culture that exploded on to the world stage in the past decade with acts such as the boyband BTS .

An influx of Japanese talent is reshaping the K-pop industry at a time of increasingly bitter political acrimony between the two countries, which has damaged diplomatic ties. Tensions rooted in Japan’s 1910-45 colonisation of Korea have risen again after South Korean court rulings against Japanese companies for forced labour, and amid a perception in Korea that Japan’s leadership has not adequately atoned for its colonial past.

Yuho Wakamatsu adjusts her makeup during a training session in Seoul

Wakamatsu adjusts her makeup

But the popularity of Korean culture and K-pop music is on the rise in Japan, with many fans and artists saying they are not bothered by diplomatic tensions. The willingness of Korean agencies to take on Japanese talent speaks to the strength of the ties between the two, according to one long-time observer. K-pop groups, and veteran Korean musicians, are selling out concert halls throughout Japan.

For schools and agencies, Japan’s music market – the second largest after the US’s – is a big prize and many have been on a campaign to recruit Japanese talent.

“It will be good if Japan and South Korea will get along through music,” Hasumi told Reuters during a break from a Korean language class.

A K-pop applicant performs at an audition in Tokyo

A K-pop applicant performs at an audition in Tokyo

Some Japanese transplants have already made it big. The three Japanese members of the girl band Twice helped make the group the second most popular act in Japan, after BTS. Their success has prompted JYP Entertainment, the South Korean agency behind Twice, to plan a group that will comprise only Japanese girls.

Agency officials are reluctant to discuss their success in Japan and the infusion of Japanese talent, wary of fuelling a politically charged backlash, according to industry sources.

There is no shortage of Japanese hopefuls willing to train under the watchful eye of the agencies, some having left successful careers at home to go in search of K-pop fame.

Nao Niitsu, a college freshman from Tokyo, who wants to be a K-pop star, and other Japanese children warm up for an audition at a park in Seoul

Nao Niitsu, from Tokyo, and other Japanese young people warm up for an audition at a park in Seoul

Nao Niitsu studies Korean in her room in Tokyo

Nao Niitsu studies Korean in her room in Tokyo; she looks at a BTS photobook

Nao Niitsu chooses her profile picture before an audition in Seoul

Choosing a profile picture before her audition in Seoul

“I’ve heard stories about no free time or not being able to do what I want. But, I think all of K-pop stars who are now performing have gone down the same road,” says Nao Niitsu, a 19-year-old college fresher from Tokyo.

During a visit to Seoul paid for by her mother, a diehard BTS fan Niitsu auditioned for 10 agencies and was accepted by five.

Nao Niitsu walks through Shin-Okubo district, known as Tokyo’s Korea Town

Niitsu walks through Shin-Ōkubo district, known as Tokyo’s Korea-town

Miyu Takeuchi says it was not a difficult decision to leave a 10-year career with the top Japanese idol band AKB48 to sign with the K-pop agency Mystic Entertainment in March as a trainee. Even with her experience, she has seven hours of vocal training a day and two-hour dance lessons twice a week, plus early-morning Korean lessons. She is not allowed to have a boyfriend but says she has no regrets, despite the fact there is no guarantee she will make it.

Miyu Takeuchi sings during a training session in Seoul, South Korea,

Miyu Takeuchi sings during a training session in Seoul

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How to Write Your College Essay About Kpop

How to Write Your College Essay About Kpop

An old client recently reached out to us a few weeks ago about how to write your college essay about Kpop. It’s not exactly their essay per se. Instead, it was a sibling of theirs who was beginning the college process for the current year.

As the turn of a new generation comes to fruition, modern institutions are beginning to accept the intricacies and individual elements which make up people’s identities. This is especially true with the rising popularity of holistic admissions, which dictates that admissions officers must take a critical look at the “whole applicant” past the numbers.

Thus, our client’s question, “How do you write your college essay on Kpop?”, is actually quite a valid question to ask. Because Kpop is a rather unconventional college essay topic, you’ll need to tread lightly and take careful precautions when writing about this topic. It’s easy to fall for the common pitfalls when writing about personal interests that can be seen as unconventional.

So, we’ve listed some valuable advice below (plus how to actually write the essay well enough that it stands out amongst other applicants.)

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Table of Contents

A Kpop College Essay is Still About You.

What did kpop do for you that made you a strong applicant, stand out amongst the other stans, really, don’t lose track of the main prompt., weave your story into a narrative format..

essay kpop

One of the things people forget when writing their college essay about Kpop is themselves.

Consider what purpose a college admissions essay serves to begin with:

Many applicants apply to top-tier universities with highly competitive GPAs. This leads to higher competition, which leads to admissions officers needing extracurriculars and essays to help distinguish between students. So, it’s imperative that the college essays are written about YOU.

The topic can be anything you choose. However, because admissions officers must distinguish between applicants, they need to know enough about their unique traits and personal qualities to make a proper decision on their acceptance.

So, let’s say you want to write a college essay on your favorite Kpop group: Ateez.

Who takes the spotlight? You, or Wooyoung? Yup, that’s right. Unfortunately, this is about you —not Wooyoung.

You can talk about how you fell in love with him. You can also talk about how seeing him inspired a fire in you to pursue your current aspirations. Maybe his charm gave you the spark you needed to take care of your fashion sense, clean up your act, and stay fit to take care of your body.

Whatever topic it is you choose to write about, writing your college essay about Kpop MUST be more about you and your character than about Kpop. This is what admissions officers will use as a metric to measure your value as a potential candidate for their school. This brings us to our next section.

essay kpop

To look for a strong applicant, the admissions officers will comb through your application with a fine-tooth, well, comb. This means they will deeply analyze each paragraph and sentence you write to better understand the character behind the writing.

Imagine the admissions process in the same way as your typical high school English class. Your teacher asks you to read pages 15-17, and provide a deep analysis of the character’s personality traits. This is essentially the same process in the admissions office.

“What can I make out of this person’s character?” “What does being president of Science Olympiad and founding a nonprofit at their local high school mean?” “Does it mean they are very conscientious? Does it mean they’re just looking for things to write in their application?”

With this in mind, you need to input some proper characteristics into your application essay.

If you are writing your college essay about Kpop, then it needs to show how Kpop made you a strong candidate for the school. What were the elements of your journey with Kpop that brought forth unique characteristics in your personality that would make you a great fit for the school?

Let’s say for instance you want to get into UCB Haas for Business. You write the “how do you express your creative side” essay prompt by talking about how Kpop brings out your creative side. Maybe Kpop brought forth a rabbit hole of new hobbies into your life that you normally would have never considered. This includes listening to the music, drawing the art of your favorite members, and taking the time to write popular fan stories on platforms like Webnovel and Wattpad.

What can someone learn from this? Well, this essay not only shows your creative side. It also shows that your creative hobbies are more than just times to relax. It shows you are someone who is able to take initiative to conduct big projects with your free time and truly go the full measure on your creative outlets.

Thus, someone getting into UCB Haas may truly benefit from this topic. Why? Well, what makes a great potential applicant to Berkeley’s business school? Is it the Kpop? Nope. It’s the conscientiousness of the student to take action and build things off of hobbies that they truly love.

Berkeley will not read your college essay about Kpop and think, “Perfect! We needed someone who was interested in Kpop!” Rather, they will read your essay and think, “Perfect! We needed someone who could take action and start projects that they’re truly passionate about!”

essay kpop

Many other fans will have reasons to appreciate Kpop, that’s for sure. However, you need to do some introspection to discover why your interest in Kpop differs from the rest.

In the college admissions process, where competition is fierce, standing out amongst the rest is crucial. You can’t get away with a generic college essay talking about Kpop that says, “I was always interested in E’Last.” It’s critical that you mention what your unique journey was in getting into that group.

“But, I got into the group because they had good music and one of the members was super cute! That’s no different from everyone else, right?”

This observation is perhaps true. However, there are typically small details that, if you zero in on them, can make your experience with Kpop unique compared to the rest. Think of HOW Kpop made you feel and WHAT those emotions were in your experience. The more you zero in on the details, the more you’ll start to realize that your experience with Kpop is actually quite unique and special compared to the rest.

Here’s an example.

“The first time I found out about BTS, I wasn’t really all too excited at all. It was with my friends during a sleepover. Samantha would roll over from her side of the bed and poke at me with the plastic corner of her phone to say, ‘see this man, he’s a fine like wine isn’t he?’ That’s when i’d reply with a muffled ‘mmmhm…’ before drifting once again to sleep. I don’t know why I did that. In fact, I don’t know why I never really bothered to listen or appreciate the next great glimmering object in the distance. It was like there was some invisible block in myhead telling me to just stick with what was safe. Why bother with anything new to begin with anyway? But, that’s seldom how Kpop works. It always finds a way to meander itself into one’s life; and I am very, very grateful for that… “

The reason this set of sentences works well is that the admissions officers may infer that the applicant used Kpop as a medium to discover more of the unknown. The applicant had a conservative temperament that was unwilling to try new things; but, Kpop made them into someone who is able to appreciate the new and experiment more.

essay kpop

So, maybe you had the chance to see Dreamcatcher in your Youtube recommended list. Perhaps that first click is what got you enthralled. It may be the case that their music just made talking about them impossible without getting into a big, giggly fit. Hey, that’s understandable!

Everyone has their favorite group to obsess about. Everyone has their biases. Everyone gets a little bit too captivated sometimes.

However, it’s very common for people who are very passionate about their hobbies, interests, and projects to get tunnel vision about their particular subject. This can be quite devastating, especially if you lose track of the main prompt.

For instance, a university may require you to answer why you deserve to attend their school in a 650-word response. Instead of circling back to answer the question, it can be very easy to think that we need to dedicate 450 words to just how amazing one idol was to you. This would be too much, and it takes away from the main purpose of the college essays.

When writing a college essay about Kpop, one of the best ways to stay on track with the main essay prompt is to implement this rule: every time you write a sentence, look back at the prompt to see if your sentence answers or at least follows into the prompt’s question. If your sentence either answers the prompt or leads into it, then you know you’re on the right track.

So, an essay that only dives deeper into the history and lore of an idol group without answering the main prompt probably isn’t a good idea.

essay kpop

The college essay narrative format is exactly what it sounds like, a narrative. This means that your college essay will be structured much like how someone tells a story. This is not in a practical or overly-formal structure.

The narrative format typically works for anyone writing about meaningful hobbies, personal experiences, interests, and personal projects. This is because these topics help paint a good picture for admissions officers to see more of “you” in your character rather than just the scores you’ve earned and your academic performance.

Kpop as a college essay topic typically works very well for narrative formats. It gives you the chance to show more of your personality through your deep passion and interest in Kpop. However, most stans and fans have a special journey connected with their relationship with Kpop. It may have started with an off-handed recommendation from a friend. Or, it could have started from sheer curiosity after hearing about a certain idol.

No matter how you were introduced to Kpop, most if not everyone has had a journey with it. The narrative format will help you build the proper foundation for your story. The important thing to consider when doing this is making sure your narrative story dives deep into what you felt and what it made you into. How did your personal Kpop journey mold and change you into the person you are today? How do those qualities contribute to making you a great candidate for this school?

If you are still struggling with writing your college essay about Kpop, or have any questions at all about the writing process, don’t be afraid to contact us for a free consultation . Our 30-minute college admissions phone consultation will help you navigate the essay writing process and create a strong essay that will stand out amongst the rest of the applicants.

4 thoughts on “How to Write Your College Essay About Kpop”

Thank you so much for writing this article!! I’m considering writing about kpop for my common application since it’s just had such a huge affect on me as a person. All of this advice will come in super handy when I start writing! 😀

Thank you! It’s good to see people using this topic because there truly is a lot of potential in it! Let us know if you need any help with your writing too; you can reach us on our contact page!

Hi! Great article and definitely helped me FINALLY finish my essay 🙂 Is there a way you guys could read the final draft that I have for extra feedback?

Hi Jenny! Thanks! I’m glad it helped and I’d be happy to provide some feedback! I just sent you an email!

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Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning Essay

Globalization has made people more aware of other cultures, traditions, values, and viewpoints. In this sense, Asian cultures, including their artists, performers, and actors, gain more popularity in other nations. Among the well-known Asian music genres is K-Pop, which introduced to the world a large number of talented musicians. However, while learning about K-Pop can contribute to the understanding of the new genre, it can be valuable to study this field from a cultural perspective. This way, the cultural meaning of studying K-Pop involves a deeper understanding of the Asian communities, their values, preferences, perception of aesthetics, and artistic activity.

K-Pop can be referred to as a part of the popular culture of the Asian region. From an academic point of view, such kind of culture is an “inferior culture” culture and involves popular entertainment, art, press, and cinema (Storey 8). While being considered inferior, K-Pop is still valuable in terms of Asian ideology, which implies a systematic set of beliefs. The first cultural meaning of studying K-Pop involves learning “a general process of intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development” of Asian people (Storey 1). This will allow other nations to gain a more profound knowledge of great artists and the philosophy behind some lyrics. Furthermore, K-Pop can be useful in terms of learning about “a particular way of life” of South Korean individuals since clips of K-Pop songs might give references to or show Asian holidays, sports, and religious festivals (Storey 2). Lastly, “the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity” might be learned via K-Pop due to Korean approaches to performances (Storey 2). This way, K-Pop serves as a conduit of information to learn about the Asian community.

Therefore, comprehending the cultural significance of K-Pop requires a better understanding of Asian populations, including their values, tastes, and conception of aesthetics and artistic endeavor. Learning a broad pattern of the intellectual, social, and artistic growth of Asian people is the primary cultural meaning of studying K-Pop. Additionally, K-Pop can be beneficial in learning about a certain approach to the life of South Korean people because music videos may make references to or depict Asian holidays, sporting events, and religious festivals. Finally, due to Korean attitudes to performances, practices of artistic activity may be learned through K-Pop.

Storey, John. “What is Popular Culture?” Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction . Routledge, 2021, pp.1-15.

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IvyPanda. (2023, August 25). Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning.

"Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning." IvyPanda , 25 Aug. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning'. 25 August.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning." August 25, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "Studying K-Pop: The Cultural Meaning." August 25, 2023.


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KPoP vs American PoP - Compare and Contrast Essay

Comparing korean and american pop in one essay.

With so many writing assignments in college, students have to learn how to write each paper type properly. This article will be helpful for anyone who prefers not to order an essay paper (although it seems too tempting, especially with the speedypaper discount code used), but write it on their own. If you have such an interesting topic as a comparison of Korean and American pop, let's try to do it together.

How to come up with a compare and contrast music essay 

Sometimes you wish you had someone who could do homework for you , but in fact, it is much interesting to come up with a great essay, especially at such great topic as comparing American and Korean pop music. So instead of having to pay for your essay , follow these guidelines and make sure you proofread it before handing in:

1. Understand the topic

After the Korean artist, Psy has released his famous hit, Korean pop music has gained some popularity. Many people explored this genre and often compared it with American alternatives. Thus, the topic of kpop vs American pop comparison becomes pretty relevant. Many listeners are new to the Korean pop music genre, so in your essay, you will have to provide an explanation of this term and give some examples (it would be great to mention something besides Gangham style). Describe the language aspect and name a few famous artists and their compositions from both sides;

2. Understand the purpose

The main goal of this paper is to study and analyze both subjects by constantly comparing and contrasting them. The secret of a great essay of this type lies in not stating the obvious facts but rather find unexpected similarities or subtle differences. Korean and American music perfectly fits here: even being so related, it still has many things to be discussed. Keep the basic structure starting with a thesis, introduce both genres, and then go for the main body giving the main information. Finalize everything with a strong conclusion, but don't repeat the same points;

3. Spot the differences

As this is a compare and contrast music essay, you may base your paper either on similarities or differences. The last one is always more effective, so we suggest starting with it. Be ready to bring the main differences describing Korean music vs American music. For example, you can mention the selection process (when labels choose artists based on their natural talent or nationality), trainee system (how long artists are with the company before they form a group), and the skill sets (personal characteristics). You can also discuss such important topics as career lifespan in Korea and the US, songwriting process, label loyalty and album language choosing (sometimes Korean artists record their songs in Japanese and Chinese as well which is also an interesting aspect);

4. Key takeaways

Don't forget that your essay should seem professional, academic, and logical. Make sure you read all relevant information on both topics to properly compare them, that you don't state obvious things just for word count and that your paper has a proper structure with a clear statement and phrases of comparison. Every paragraph of your essay should contain one idea not to mix readers up; there should be smooth transitions between paragraphs and a solid finishing statement to draw a conclusion. 

We hope that these tips were helpful in writing a comparative essay in Korean and American music.

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Essay about Kpop and Its Popularity

essay kpop

Korean pop history can be traced back to idol groups who debuted throughout the 90s (Vincent 2019). One of many first well-known groups was Seo Taiji and Boys. Their debut of melded Western-style pop music with lyrics in Korean went above and beyond the cultural norms in popular culture during the time (Vincent 2019). This marked the beginning of the current, beat-oriented era of K-pop.

Following the first wave of idol groups came the music studios diving into the picture in the late 90s. Three big companies established themselves and so are currently referred to as the big entertainment businesses in South Korea. These businesses, namely SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment, became the “Big 3” because of what size and popular they are (2019).

Idol groups soared high from the 90s to today. This has resulted in the in-depth perfecting of details such as for example choreography, outfits, and mannerisms, and the types of songs ended up resonating more with the fans, who became hyped because of their favorite artists and K-pop groups (Vincent 2019). K-pop groups of both girl groups and boy bands have arisen due to the undeniable influence and popularity of Korean popular culture globally.

Works Cited

Vincent, Brittany. “A Brief, Condensed History of K-Pop. ” Teen Vogue, Teen Vogue, 21 Oct. 2019. “Worldwide Idols.” My passion , 5 Apr. 2019.

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Essays on Kpop

Often referred to as K-pop Korean pop is a catchy music genre that originated in South Korea. It combines singing, dancing, and rapping to create catchy music that is targeted at young audiences. The K-pop industry is a multibillion dollar one with hundreds of groups and a host of acclaimed individual...

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