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  • Spread of K-POP Booms Beyond Asia and Into Europe
  • [2011-05-06]
  • A street rally was held in France asking, “Add more SM singers’ concerts.” Many fans all around Europe who love singing groups belonging to SM and YG gathered on a YouTube channel.




    "I will definitely buy two tickets for the concert. I really hope to meet Super Junior on the concert.” --ID Makijoo

    “The best K-POP singing groups, who belong to SM Entertainment (hereafter referred to as SM), held their historical first concert in Paris, France. I hope that it will opens the door for other K-POP singing groups to France.” – ID Mopiou

    When the tickets for the concert entitled “SM Town Live World Tour in Paris” began selling on the ticket box called “FNAC” in France, many similar responses like the ones above were posted on the FNAC’s website. Feelings of joy and sadness of fans who bought and could not buy tickets were mingled. The ticket for the concert which will be held at the “Le Zenith de Paris,” in which 7,000 audience can be seated, on June 10 was sold out in just fifteen minutes after tickets began selling. After the tickets sold out, members of the fan club for Hallyu entitled “Korean Connection” began demanding “additional concerts” through Internet websites such as Facebook. In addition, around 300 Hallyu fans gathered in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 1 and rallied on the street to demand additional concerts while performing a “Flash Mob” performance. A correspondent of the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange in France named Min Ji Eun said on May 4, “From April 27, there have already been small and large street rallies in the regions such as Lille, Strasbourg, and Tuf in France, and French fans from Bordeaux, Nantes, and Metz, and Spanish fans from Madrid and Barcelona joined the street rally held on May 1. Fans from Lyon and Marseille in France and Munich in Germany were also known to have held a ‘flash mob’ performance on May 7.” People in the Korean music industry responded with great surprise to this news as the new Hallyu that has struck the Asian region including Japan has now extended to Europe. What has made the K-POP boom spread into Europe?




    ◇ K-POP has gained popularity all around Europe. = Fans of K-POP are rapidly increasing in Europe and symptoms of its popularity has appeared in many places. According to YG Entertainment (hereafter referred to as YG) on May 3, Big Bang’s YouTube channel has been viewed around 5.8 million times in Europe from last December until May 3, and the number by region of its hits was France, and England, Sweden, and Finland following. In addition, Big Bang and 2NE1 ranked atop the popularity voting for Korean male and female idol groups, respectively, held in France. YG and the K-POP Korean community SOOPI has been conducting a survey to select the place “where people want Big Bang to visit,” and European countries such as France, Germany, England, and Spain are at the top. Big Bang is reportedly considering visiting places that show higher voting rates. In addition, Dong Bang Shin Ki’s new album entitled “Keep Your Head Down” was ranked in fourth place on the chart “United World Chart” on German site called “Media Traffic” that counts album sales worldwide, and SM’s YouTube Channel has been viewed around 80 million times in Europe from June 2009 until today. A person from SM said, “European fans from countries such as France, England, and Italy are posting many messages on SM's YouTube channel. People in 229 countries can experience SM singers’ videos through this channel. We could find out the huge popularity of Super Junior when they visited Italy as their private trip. At that time, around 300 fans in Italy came to the airport to welcome their visit.” In addition, new Korean singing group Tim Top was introduced on the French program “Le Grand Journal” on the French pay channel “Canal+” last February, and SHINee and Girls Generation also appeared on the Belgium program “Sans Chichis” last February. The representative of “Korean Connection,” Maxim Pikett, said during an interview with the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, “If Big Bang, 2NE1, and Super Junior, who are greatly loved in France, are holding concerts in Paris, more than 30,000 fans gather to attend the concert.”




    ◇ K-POP spreads based on global content and digital infrastructure. = People in the music industry are paying attention to the fact that the K-POP boom has been created without any promotional activities in the local regions. They all agree that the digital media has been the driving force for the K-POP boom. It means that there has been created a new paradigm that various content are spread and used by people through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and iTunes by the development of digital medias such as Internet and smart phones, and any digital contents can be evaluated and become popular without promotional activities. Many Korean music management companies has utilized this new paradigm in their marketing. Representative of YG, Yang Hyun Seok said, “Now people are searching for content that they want and YG has conducted marketing strategies to deliver content through overseas channels such as YouTube from several years ago. We provide music videos and music program images after negotiating with broadcasting companies on copyright issues to YouTube and Google. Thanks to our active marketing activities through the Internet, fans for our singers spread to the US, Europe, and South America. I heard from Will. I. Am from the group Black Eyed Peas, who visited Korea, that he was very surprised to find many fans of 2NE1 in Brazil when he visited there for a concert.” People also agree that K-POP is greatly loved worldwide with their competitive content. A representative of SM, Kim Young Min, said, “We have produced worldwide contents by using SM’s global network. The best music composer in Northern Europe creates the music, an American choreographer thinks up the dance, Korean producers work together, and singers sing these songs in different languages. As our content is produced through our global network, it is very competitive in the global market.” In addition, people in the music industry also emphasized that the spread of K-POP into the world is very meaningful and it has more value not simply because the content is widely consumed. Yang Hyun Seok said, “The news on the street rally in France asking for additional SM concerts is good news for us. It is very encouraging news for all of us that Korean content that is made by a different race and in a different language is greatly loved by people in so-called culturally advanced European countries, and we can expand our market into those countries. The power of cultural content creates tremendous additional value such as enhancement of our image of a country. I think that the term 'Hallyu' is insufficient for encompassing the current phenomenon."



    ▲ Statistics of hits for Bang Bang’s YouTube channel in Europe
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