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As K-pop group BTS celebrates 10 years, the industry’s future rests with its diehard fandom

As K-pop group BTS celebrates 10 years, the industry’s future rests with its diehard fandom

Ryo Cifra fell in love with Ok-pop 15 years in the past, only a few years earlier than Korean boy band BTS — the business’s most profitable export so far — was fashioned in Seoul.

After listening to an earworm known as Fireplace by the woman group 2NE1, Cifra dug into all issues Ok-pop, creating an appreciation for the nation’s pop music business and different sides of Korean tradition.

These days, he performs within the Edmonton-based Ok-pop dance cowl group Apricity. A linchpin of the scene’s vibrant fan tradition, dance covers contain followers lipsyncing and reenacting choreography by their favorite Ok-pop idols — briefly replicating the beloved musical acts that at the moment are a few of the hottest on the earth.

“You see it in all places. There’s no nook of the globe the place the place Ok-pop doesn’t have some form of affect,” Cifra instructed CBC Information.

Whereas Cifra and others specific their love for Ok-pop from Canada, 1000’s of followers travelled to Seoul over the weekend to have a good time BTS’s tenth anniversary. The group ushered Ok-pop into the North American consciousness 5 years in the past, turning into the business’s first act to achieve primary on the U.S. albums chart in 2018.

Some who examine and work within the business assume that Ok-pop’s future depends upon its worldwide fandom, as devotees from exterior Korea discover ways to sing and dance just like the idols they adore and labels spend money on Ok-pop training for wannabe superstars around the globe.

BTS followers from around the globe collect throughout an occasion to have a good time the group’s anniversary at a public park close to the Han River in Seoul on Saturday. (Lee Jin-man/The Related Press)

Followers have ‘curiosity in studying’

Chuyun Oh, an affiliate professor at San Diego State College, has been conducting discipline analysis in Seoul’s Gangnam district amid festivities devoted to the BTS anniversary.

The group is presently on hiatus as two of its seven members, J-Hope and Jin, full necessary army service, however lead performer RM attended an anniversary competition on June 17.

Oh teaches a Ok-pop dance course on the college, which she says is the primary of its variety within the U.S. She’s watched followers spill into the capital metropolis from all around the globe and, not in contrast to a holy pilgrimage, go to websites the place the well-known boy band has studied, rehearsed and carried out. 

“I really feel the liveliness of town and lots of international followers’ love and curiosity in studying … the native context and the origin of Ok-pop in Seoul,” she instructed CBC Information.

Whereas the Ok-pop business rumbled to life within the ’90s, it exploded throughout the 2010s as labels and manufacturing corporations in South Korea started investing as critically in training and coaching as they did in touring or music manufacturing, opening colleges like Def Dance and World Ok Heart the place folks might be taught skilled Ok-pop efficiency.

SM Leisure, considered one of Korea’s largest leisure companies, represents Ok-pop acts like Pink Velvet and Tremendous Junior. Final March, it enrolled its first batch of scholars at SM Universe Academy, an arts establishment devoted to coaching the subsequent technology of idols.

“These days, Ok-pop companies are usually not simply leisure, enterprise or music labels. They’re additionally worldwide performing arts colleges,” Oh mentioned.

At the same time as followers eye Ok-pop as a long-term skilled pursuit, a shadow of psychological well being points and suspected suicides continues to linger over the business, which is thought for strenuous coaching applications and troublesome working circumstances that typically places undue stress on its idols.

LISTEN | Meet the Canadian teen behind a brand new Ok-pop hit: 

54:00We hear from a neighborhood teen who’s behind a Ok-Pop sensation’s new hit

New music this week from Vainness Mirror, Joanne Morra, Elizabeth Sheppard, Vineet Vyas and Dilly Dally.

Not too long ago, BLACKPINK singer Jennie left mid-concert as a result of her situation was “deteriorating,” in line with a consultant’s assertion. Different Ok-pop idols like Moonbin and Hae Soo died this 12 months, each earlier than the age of 30. Tragically, they weren’t the primary.

Whereas Oh says the working circumstances of Ok-pop idols have improved, she stresses that there are two points at play: how an company treats the artists they handle, and the way the artists themselves put together for high-intensity performances and taxing schedules.

“Ok-pop idols are skilled, extremely devoted, extremely educated artists,” not in contrast to Olympic athletes, Oh mentioned. 

Ok-pop with out the Ok?

As Ok-pop swept the Web, social media turned the premiere discussion board to be taught and follow the business’s efficiency mannequin. Followers started copying and posting movies of themselves doing “level choreography,” a type of dance simply replicated and normally knowledgeable by a Ok-pop tune’s lyrics.

When the pandemic hit and social life migrated to the Web, Ok-pop TikTok challenges and dance covers flooded folks’s feeds. That very same 12 months, BTS launched its first all-English single, Dynamite, incomes the band its first Grammy nomination and cementing Ok-pop’s place within the international pop music panorama.

WATCH | The music video for BTS’s first English-language tune Dynamite[embedded content]


Many well-known Ok-pop performers are usually not Korean, together with members of standard woman teams like BLACKSWAN and Kep1er. Oh mentioned that Ok-pop, throughout its globalization, has been “de-ethnicized.”

“I feel we are able to even examine Ok-pop with hip-hop or tango. They’ve been additionally globalized too,” she mentioned.

“So that you don’t should be African-American” to carry out as a hip-hop artist, “though we all know the importance of the basis and authentic tradition of hip hop” is in that group, she mentioned.

Leisure govt Bang Si Hyuk, who based BTS as chairman of the Korean file label Hybe, reportedly mentioned throughout a March press convention that the one manner Ok-pop can maintain itself sooner or later is to dilute the “Ok” and spend money on overseas expertise.

Some followers query whether or not a tune by a Ok-pop group that’s sung utterly in English continues to be Ok-pop, mentioned Cifra. To him, it’s — however he nonetheless enjoys studying Korean by way of his favorite songs.

“Me and my pals can decide up on phrases which can be Korean regardless that we don’t communicate Korean,” he mentioned. 

“I do know lots of people can relate to this.”

‘They need to grow to be a Ok-pop idol’

Evelyne Ung and Hugo Racine are college students at McGill College, the place they’re a part of a Ok-pop membership on campus known as Ok-Rave. There’s a purpose why changing Ok-pop performances has grow to be the in-vogue manner for followers to indicate their appreciation, Ung mentioned.

“I feel lots of it stems from that feeling of eager to be well-known,” she instructed CBC Information.

“Some folks would possibly need to dance simply [for] enjoyable, simply to affix a group, whereas for others, I feel lots of them really nonetheless have this small dream in them that they need to grow to be well-known, that they need to grow to be a Ok-pop idol.”

WATCH | A Ok-pop dance cowl by McGill’s Ok-Rave: [embedded content] 


In response to Jeff Benjamin, a Ok-pop columnist at Billboard Journal based mostly in New York, the business’s propensity for mixing and matching completely different genres and musical kinds, from pop to hip hop to digital music, is a part of the explanation why it shortly went multinational.

“Ok-pop itself was form of created within the sense of creating positive it had most enjoyability by having a lot of completely different genres, completely different languages blended in. It was by no means meant, I feel, to remain strictly inside Korea,” he instructed CBC Information.

“I feel particularly because of the worldwide and international curiosity in Ok-pop, extra teams are hitting the seven-year mark, extra teams are hitting the 10-year mark like we’ve simply seen with BTS, and it’s form of making Ok-pop extra of a sustainable profession.”

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