K-pop has been around for years with early bands like H.O.T and S.E.S. The genre, until recent years, was fairly limited to the countries that were producing it; however, in the last five years or so the K-pop genre has entered the western world mainstream and is celebrated by people of all backgrounds.

The genre can be intimidating to approach if you have no idea where to start, are unfamiliar with the Korean language, and the K-pop idol culture. Today, I am going to lay down the foundation of K-pop so you are able to see it’s not as foreign as you think.

The first concept you must understand is that of the K-pop idol. Idols are the product of the Korean trainee system.

As stated by Lelalfunes, “South Korean entertainment companies such as S.M. Entertainment have created a process to train singers and dancers in its groups…. supervised trainees begin dance and voice classes at night and live together while attending school.”

The pressure created in this system is no joke; however, for some, the end goal is motivation enough to deal with all the trials presented throughout the process. The K-pop world is cut throat, and even after completing training, some bands debut only to disband shortly after. It is only the best that see true success.

Most widely known is the K-pop group BTS who debuted in 2013. According to CNN, “ BTS became only the third group in 50 years to have number one albums on the Billboard 200 charts in less than 12 months, joining the ranks of the Beatles and the Monkees.”

BTS was the first K-pop group to really break the overseas market, setting the stage for others to infiltrate the overseas music industry.

To get you started on your introduction into K-pop music, the top five most popular groups of 2020, according to Ranker, are: BTS, Twice, Blackpink, Got7, and EXO. These groups cover the bases of different styles of K-pop and are a great place to start until you feel ready to explore the genre on your own!

The last thing that should be addressed is K-pop fans. To put things into perspective, they could be described as One Direction fans on steroids; however, they are so eccentric because they all share a love for this world you couldn’t possibly understand unless you listen to K-pop music.

If you give K-pop a try yourself, you will find that the groups sing about many of the same abstract concepts as everyone else. The only difference is they are singing in Korean.

What many people don’t realise is that listening to Korean music is a gateway to knowledge on a whole new culture! Especially in today’s society when racial tensions have reached new heights, it is particularly important that we find ways to become educated, supportive, and respectful of other cultures, and K-pop is a great way to start.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

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