Two decades ago a movie like Jurassic Park made in one year two times the profits and turnover of all Korean Hyundai cars sold the same year. So the clever country of Korea decided to devote part of its creativity and energy in developing entertainment blockbusters. With success. Korea now produces pop-music, soaps, films and advertisements for the whole of Asia – including the Middle East. K-pop is the name. K-pop is also geo-politically inspired. Korea is situated between two superpowers, China and Japan. On hard power the country will never win. So it settles, with governmental support, for the soft power of K-pop.
Yes, K-pop quotes extensively from Western pop music. Watch rapper Chaelin Lee (CL) and qua visual language Lady Gaga pops up in your mind – be it ‘Asia-tised’. Business-wise however, K-pop is utterly creative and innovative. Take K-pop group Wannabe. The group has been created within the frame of a reality TV-show, Produce 101. Watchers of the show were enabled to vote whom in the end would be part of the band. Or take another group, Seventeen. Seventeen consists of thirteen members, each with their own distinctive image personality. They all of their own band of fan followers who bid against each other with loud, loud cheering when their favorite comes to the fore for a short solo performance.
Korea is building its K-pop brands with more interactivity than the average winner of the Western ‘Voice of…’ music contest winner. As a consequence the brand have a long life. Meet-and-greets between fans and idols are much more usual in the East than in the West. New choreographies arouse intense discussions on the social media. Popular group members bring their own cosmetics line to the market. Also for boys- – in which case it is called: ‘manscara’. Erotic fan fiction is on offer. In the meanwhile K-pop industry takes care that no group member becomes too popular. Everyone must stay replaceable.
K-pop is manufactured pretty ‘industrial’ – but hey, isn’t that the key selling point of Asia anyway? – combined with smart marketing. Right now, K-pop is launching successful introductory events in Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Mexico City. The aim is clear: worldwide domination. Everywhere on our planet the LGBT avant garde is warming up. Chaelin Lee is going to co-operate with Black Eyes Peas, as the rumour goes. She is photographed with Will Smith. If you are not in K-pop yet, you probably have met a pre-taste of it anyway with iconic Gangnam Style by singer Psy. During five years the most watched video on Youtube, with at the moment almost 3 billion views.