K-Pop has been constantly rising in popularity on the western side of the world over the last decade. Just take a look at PSY’s “Gangnam Style”, which surpassed 2 billion views on YouTube. In 2013, you could literally listen to it anywhere!
Are you a hardcore fan or a newbie? No matter. Here are 7 random facts for you to think about:
1. Regardless of its relatively new acquaintance on the western side of the world, Korean Pop has been around since the 1950s, an age where K-Pop found itself influenced by western music. As a result, a variety of Korean Pop artists were going overseas for live shows. Such is the case of the Kim Sisters, artists who performed for the US Army in South Korea. They became the first Korean group to release an album in the United States Pop Market. It’s also interesting to mention they had a cover of “Charlie Brown” by Leiber and Stoller that reached the 7th spot in the Billboard Single Chart.
2. Not so much a fact as a trend: as K-Pop grows in worldwide popularity, the number of groups with English names in growing. This allows the artists to be marketed at an international level and to a wider audience. Makes sense.
3. In 2012, after rigorous studies, the Wall Street Journal reported the complete training process for one Korean Pop star or idol under the S.M. Entertainment record label averaged around 3 million dollars.
4. In the 1970’s, the government of Park Chung-hee banned American Pop and Korean Rock because of their references to sex and drugs. Shin Joong-hyun, better known as the godfather of Korean rock, was imprisoned in 1975 over a marijuana scandal. Park was assassinated in 1979 on a shooting.
5. During the Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945, Koreans used “changga” songs to express themselves against the Japanese oppression, achieving a great rise in popularity. This resulted in the Japanese confiscating the existing changga collections and publishing the songs with lyrics of their own.
6. In 1977, the younger generation of Koreans opposed the Vietnam War as much as the American hippies did, which made the Korean government start a massive ban on songs with liberal lyrics alongside the Rock/Pop ban proposed by President Chung-hee. In response to the situation, and with the constant rise in popularity of folk-influenced pop among the young ones, the MBC, a local television channel, organized a music contest for university students which served as foundation for several modern music festivals.
7. Sasaeng is the Korean word for “stalker”. “Sasaeng fans” will go to those hard-to-imagine extremes of fanaticism for the sake of being close to their idols. They are known for their highly questionable behavior and their tendency to invade the artist’s privacy in obsessive ways. Hard to believe, but some of these Sasaeng fans actually sneak into their idols’ houses while they sleep or take a shower in order to take pictures. Others have taken things to the extreme by kidnapping, hurting, and showing aggressive attitudes against their idols. One of the most used forms of harassment is to hire a Sasaeng taxi, which charges somewhere around $500 to chase the artists’ vehicles for 9 hours and keep track of their daily activities. Some Sasaeng fans have admitted to spend over a thousand dollars to carry on with their stalking.
Love K-Pop responsibly, people.