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  • K-Pop Expected to Boom Again This Year
  • [2012-01-10]
  • Five representatives who are leading the new Hallyu boom in the world expressed their prospects for K-Pop this year.



    ▲ Representatives of major entertainment agencies (from left, clockwise) -- Kim Young Min of SM, Yang Hyun Seok of YG, Hong Seung Sung of Cube, and Jeong Wook of JYP

    K-Pop gained huge popularity all over the world beyond Asia last year. It has been spread into the popular culture of many Asian countries such as Japan and countries in East Asia, and K-Pop’s internet fandom was created in Europe and South America through various internet websites such as YouTube and SNS (Social Network Service). In addition, some of the entertainment agencies, who are leading the widespread of K-Pop in the world, held concerts in the USA, Europe, and South America, and the major local medias reported the popularity of K-Pop in their countries as a new phenomenon by indicating it as “Attack by K-Pop Stars” and “Crazy about K-Pop.” The representatives of major entertainment agencies -- SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and Cube Entertainment -- and the singer BoA, who achieved great success overseas for the first time among Korean singing groups, expressed their bright prospects for K-Pop this year.

    ◇ Kim Young Min, the representative of SM: “K-Culture will come into the spotlight” = We could confirm K-Pop’s possibility of success in the USA and Europe through “SM Town Live” concerts last year. K-Pop is forecast to spread all over the world this year, and, above all, various aspects of Korean culture such as fashion and food are likely to attract people’s attention as “K-Culture” from the world. SM’s keywords for this year are “Asia” and “localization.” SM has emphasized the importance of the huge Asian market where has a geographical advantage. SM singing groups will continue to focus on holding activities in Asian market by releasing album, holding concerts, and having various promotional activities. In addition, we will try to distribute quality content to Europe and the USA by utilizing new media such as YouTube and Facebook as well as holding concerts continuously in order to expand the boundary of global activities. And we will implement localization strategies by presenting rookie singing groups strategically organized for different regions. EXO-K and EXO-M will debut in Korea and China, respectively, and they will begin holding activities in Korea and China at the same time with the same song. In addition, concert will become a hot topic in the world music business this year. Dong Bang Shin Ki will hold a concert tour in Japan with estimated number of 450,000 audience members and Super Junior will continue their world concert tour entitled “Super Show 4” that they have begun from last year. SM’s singing groups are expected to record the greatest number of audience members for their concerts.

    ◇ Yang Hyun Seok, the representative of YG: “Embankment will break soon as it already has a hole in the middle” = When I was holding activities as a member of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in the 1990s, Japan was a culturally advanced country that had higher level of music than Korea, and we could not dare to dream about advancing to the USA. But things have changed. Hallyu in Japan, which was established by the first generation Hallyu stars such as Bae Yong Joon and BoA, does not mean something that consumes Korean music only, but it ultimately changes the image of Korea in Japan. And the world market including the US market has faced new changes thanks to the development of the Internet. The singer Seven stayed in the USA to debut in the American music industry in the past, but 2NE1 has been largely introduced to the world through YouTube and SNS. 2NE1 was selected as the “World Best New Band” by MTV IGGY, and the group members gave an interview with BBC News in Britain. An actress who appears in the American soap opera “CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) Season 6” revealed that she is a huge fan of 2NE1 and she like 2NE1’s songs. CNN introduced the video of the cast member of SBS TV’s audition program “K-Pop Star,” Park Ji Min, and the Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher and pop star Eric Benet uploaded the link of Park Ji Min’s audition video on their Twitter account and highly praised her talent. K-Pop’s possibilities are infinite. It is still inadequate to call “Hallyu” in the USA and Europe, but it is true that we make a hope in the embankment. There are a small number of fan groups who enjoy Hallyu in America. Like we did before in Japan, we will have a chance to break the wall of the American music market, and I hope that it will come true at least before one or two years and five years maximum. To make this happen, we have to produce quality content in the categories of music, music video, and concerts. YG has presented music that follows world’s music trend based on hip hop music since its establishment, and we have confidence in having competitiveness in the world music market. Singing groups belonging to YG will not stay in the local for promotion anymore. As things have changed how they work, we can use time more efficiently. We will find verified business partners by establishing small branches in Europe instead. We have now advanced into Chinese market up to now, but we have kept research on Chinese market for the last ten years. China is the largest market in Asian and it has its own characteristics from its political system, so we will try to find more effective methods to advance into this market. K-Pop just lit a match last year. Nobody knows whether the embers can burn a small tree or a mountain. But it is clear that Korean popular music seems to have the best possibilities in its history.

    ◇ Jeong Wook, the representative of JYP: “I look forward to having a real world star from Korea” = K-Pop has just begun to expand its popularity last year, and it will put down its roots this year. The most important thing is that the culturally advanced people have to exchange their culture with those of local people. Culture is very comprehensive, and K-Pop has to go abroad with other Korea culture. Hong Kong movies received great love in the past, but suddenly lost popularity, and we should take a lesson from Hong Kong movies’ trial and error. K-Pop has trained talented people for the past ten years beginning from SM’s effort, and K-Pop will not easily lose it popularity thanks to those efforts. Even though China and Japan begin to establish the system to develop talented people right now, it will take at least several years before they can advance overseas. We can collaborate with other countries by providing our system and utilizing their money, management, and their market. Countries might try to block our culture to protect their own culture like China who restricts the broadcasting of Korean dramas. The solution in this situation is to develop both the local country and the stars together. I expect that there will be a real world star whoever he or she is this year. We could not imagine that our singer can become the top star in Japan, but actually many singing groups advanced to Japan after Dong Bang Shin Ki successfully advanced Japan. Rain looks like almost a world star. Singing groups in JYP have various plans in other countries including Korea, China, the USA, and Japan. The Wonder Girls are expected to have outstanding achievement in the USA beginning from the broadcast of the TV movie "Wonder Girls" in which the group members appear as the protagonists. 2PM and 2AM will debut in Japan this month, and Miss A will implement various projects in the great China region. Korean government needs to improve legal system including copyright law to protect people in entertainment industry from losing their passion for creating works.

    ◇ Hong Seung Sung, the representative of Cube: “Overseas activities will be vitalized this year” = We have begun to see results from K-Pop since last year after long preparation and efforts over the past ten years. Singing groups’ advancement overseas market will speed up from this year. Cube has confirmed the possibilities of success through the joint concerts of Beast, 4Minute, and G.Na entitled “United Cube” held in London, Brazil, and Sao Paulo. The huge interest in K-Pop means that there came new consumers who want the K-Pop content, so we will unfold more detailed plans to promote overseas activities by releasing official album and songs in Europe and South America. Around 40 percent of the total revenue of Cube came from overseas activities. The other major agencies overseas sales are also increasing dramatically. But most of the profits came from Asian countries such as Japan. This is the time to decide what to do first and focus on only those things. Singers who already debuted will hold activities all around the Asia. As we need localized content in China, we will make a debut of a new group in China that includes Chinese members this year. And we are considering moving the center of the business China to Taiwan and Hong Kong where have relatively less strict business environment. We have to form collaboration with Chinese companies to find talented people and train them until they will debut to make the business successful in China. The solid root of K-Pop will not easily disappear within five to ten years. Agencies have studied overseas market for a long time, and above all, Korean singers have excellent talent and capabilities. Their capabilities enraptured overseas fans through new media network and they have proved their capabilities by holding performances right in front of them through concerts. Beast will begin holding their world concert tour in 21 cities in 14 countries from next month. In addition, K-Pop singers will release their worldwide album at the same time like the other pop stars do. And some of the companies or related business will have improved brand images thanks to K-Pop stars. Some people criticize that the genre of K-Pop focused on idol groups only, but we want to prove that we can make our best thing the world’s best. Then, we will introduce other genres for our next best item.



    ▲ BoA, the First success model of Korean singer overseas

    ◇ BoA: “K-Pop will become global topic” = I could realize the popularity of K-Pop in Asian countries and the USA through “SM Town Live” concerts. We have good music, excellent producers, and capable singing groups, so I can expect that Korean popular music will become the topic of a global music market. As more people have interest in K-Pop, they have requested K-Pop stars to hold concerts in their countries, so more singing groups will hold more concerts overseas. As one of the Korean singers who delivers Korean music to the world, I will also try my best while coming and going all around the world.

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