Exploring Why K-pop And Korean Wave Is So Popular
Hello everyone. Today I will be discussing how the integration of social media into Kpop fandoms, particularly through video streaming platforms like Youtube, has affected fan participatory culture, by altering the interaction and behaviours of fandoms and the distribution of Korean content throughout the globe, allowing for the growth of the Korean Wave with an increase in accessibility and constant activity on the platform. The Korean Wave is a social phenomenon that is predominantly led by Kpop, also known as Korean Pop.
What is KPOP?
Korean Pop, commonly known as “KPOP”, is a genre of music based on “idol” culture which has caught the attention of the world with its unique, intriguing concepts and performances. Kpop is one of the factors that has brought the Korean Wave onto the international stage. The last decade has seen exponential growth in the Korean Wave, and Korean culture as a result of Kpop and Korean entertainment.
How Does Social Media Affect the Korean Wave?
In the shift into the digital age, social media has been a key contributor in the rise of the Korean Wave, by providing an inclusive platform with ease of accessibility for users to indulge in their fandoms and artists. Connecting various fandoms together, social platforms encourage the participation of fans in order to stimulate activity and gather publicity, effectively altering the pre-existing system of fandoms and participatory culture. Long past was the era of traditional media, such as televisions, radios, and films, as this shift no longer limited the distribution of media to one form, rather went global.
This change is referred to as “Social mediascape”, a term coined to describe the relationship between the effects of social media on the existing participatory culture of fandoms and the popularity of the Korean wave. Frequently dubbed as a phenomenon, the consistent coverage of the Korean Wave on social media has led to overexposure of Korean content, gathering consistent publicity on traditional media. For example, after Gangnam Style went viral on Youtube, the song and artist was covered all over the television and radio.
How Do Fandoms Play a Role in the Korean Wave?
Through social media, fans push for inclusivity in the media, promoting Korean pop and culture in efforts to recognize it as a legitimate form of entertainment despite its foreign nature. In 2018, BTS won Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards. Fandoms also rely on Youtube because of its ease of accessibility available and the various contents available, allowing for the rapid circulation of music videos, and content regarding Kpop on the social mediascape.
The ever-growing presence of Korean pop on Youtube is the result of companies’ efforts in establishing a stable global presence.
Youtube and Korean Wave
Through Youtube, companies are able to release exclusive content and music, maximizing their respective channels by accumulating the amount of exclusive content, promotions, and events. According to a blog “KorCan50years”, user leilasiu recalled her first exposure to Kpop on Youtube, with their flashy performance initially drawing her in. As she clicked on more videos, her recommended videos directed her to other Kpop videos and groups, thus ultimately integrating her into the Kpop genre. This shows how Youtube affects the Korean Wave. Youtube enables fans to consciously decide what content they watch, where the algorithm would then recommend similar videos based on their interests in order to maximize the user’s time streaming. This unintendedly creates a niche community around a certain Kpop group, as fans would be exposed to similar content. Hence why companies exploit the Youtube algorithm by concentrating their content into one channel in efforts of attracting unique and frequent users to their channel. Also, Each Youtube video has a comment section, enabling fans and users to actively engage in discussions with fellow fans and artists, rather than just gaining viewership. Fans also create their own fan content videos and upload translations, thus broadening the scope of the Korean Wave, and catering it towards a more diverse, international fanbase.
To a certain extent, it is fair to say that the rise of the Korean Wave is the result of the advancements of new media, for the recent addition of social media like Youtube has provided the optimal environment for communities to flourish. When comparing traditional media and social media platforms like Youtube, there is no other medium in which content can spread and enable the growth of communities. It is then appropriate to assume that Kpop fan participatory culture has been altered to the social mediascape, adapting to the more accessible social media platforms based around technology, ultimately allowing for the increase in the Korean Wave.
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