There are countless stories of K-pop singers who have worked their way towards success in the world’s largest music industry. The first big wave of K-pop came from PSY’s “Gangnam Style” in 2012. This sensational song drew many Americans into the K-pop world, making the KCON convention an annual event in Los Angeles and New York.
Recently, K-Pop group BTS set a new record as they ranked No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart in America with the release of their new song, “Dynamite,” in English. Jina Yim, a sophomore majoring in biology, is an international student from South Korea who said the popularity of K-pop in America has made her proud to be Korean.
“I’ve been studying in the United States since sophomore year, and most of my friends didn’t care about K-pop then,” Yim said. “It makes me proud to be Korean to see what K-pop artists are achieving in Hollywood, and most importantly, I love to see many Americans wanting to know more about Korea.”
What’s special about BTS is that they are made up of only Korean members. Since none of the BTS members are from foreign nations and have lived in South Korea their entire lives, they represent Korean artists in the truest sense. In 2017, BTS started their journey in the American music industry when they received the Top Social Artist award at the Billboard Music Awards. They have since collaborated with artist Halsey, building a thick fanbase worldwide.
While BTS was building up their career in America, the new K-pop girl group, BLACKPINK, stepped into the Western music world too. Their fame in America began with the 2018 song “DDU-DU DDU-DU” as it set the YouTube record of the fastest music video to reach 1 million views. Americans were familiar with BLACKPINK when they performed at Coachella in 2019. This was the trigger for BLACKPINK’s path toward becoming mainstream artists in the American music industry. Additionally, BLACKPINK is made up of four members who speak a total of five languages. One of the members, Lisa, is from Thailand, which helped the group to earn support from a wider range of Asian audiences.
While BTS represents more traditional K-pop artists, BLACKPINK portrays the globalized version of K-pop style, which attracts foreign audiences, especially since America is a diverse community. Building up from these accomplishments, BLACKPINK was already building up a fan base through their YouTube channel. Collaborating with Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez, their new song, “Lovesick Girls,” reached No. 1 in the Billboard Top 100 charts the week it was released.
Both BTS and BLACKPINK appeared on American shows such as “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “Good Morning America.” Their fame brought positive aspects such as raising awareness in Korean culture and political issues to the attention of American audiences. These K-pop artists are helping to change stereotypes toward Asians and increase acceptance of Asian culture and diversity.