Hallyu Report II – Real life evidence(1)

Internet is not the only place to observe the rise of Korean Wave. International popularity comes with international activities and achievements. Let us now look at several representatives for Korean pop music and Korean dramas and their advance outside South Korean borders.

a) Korean pop music

Korean pop music (Kpop) presents many idols whose accomplishments and fandom have transcended geographical borders. Leading male group DBSK made their name in Guinness World Records in 2008 for having the world’s largest fan club and for being the most photographed celebrities in the world. In Japan – the second largest music market in the world after the U.S, , Korean artists such as solo singer BoA and DBSK have garnered mainstream success, creating unprecedented charting records as a result of their popularity with Japanese audience.

In 2008, BoA became one of the only two artists in Japan to have six consecutive studio albums top the Oricon weekly chart (the other artist is Japanese). That same year, Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK) became the first foreign male group to have a No.1 single in Japan. From then on, DBSK’s popularity continued to grow, which led to the honor of being invited to the prestigious Kohaku Unta Gassen. This Japanese Music Festival is run on New Year’s Eve, has an extremely large audience reach, and only showcases the most celebrated Japanese and foreign singers. DBSK also sold an astounding 100,000 seats for two-consecutive-night concerts in Tokyo Dome – the largest concert hall in Japan.

Meanwhile, thanks to solid international appeal, male group Super Junior has been able to run full-length concert tours on their own in 10 Asian countries. Super Junior has ranked high in various charts across Asia, most notably in Taiwan, where their 2010 single “Bonamana” maintained its No.1 spot for an extraordinary 60 weeks (more than a year), only to be beaten by Super Junior’s next single “Mr.Simple” which was released in August 2011.

In the U.S., a challenging market for Korean artists, several Kpop stars have nonetheless made their mark. Solo singer Rain had two sold-out concerts in Madison Square Garden. His popularity was significant enough to warrant being named on the prestigious lists of 2006 Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World” and 2007 People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People”Female group Wonder Girls made a major breakthrough in the U.S. in 2009 by entering Billboard Hot 100 their single “Nobody”.

More recently, in Japanese market, female groups Kara and So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) have created a new era of Hallyu by releasing Platinum-certified albums. In 2011, SM Entertainment became the first Korean company to bring concerts to Europe, finally responding to the wishes of European Kpop fans. Originally planned as a single night concert, it was added a second night at the requests of fans after tickets for the first night sold out in 15 minutes. For the second night, tickets sold out in 10 minutes – a marked achievement given that SM’s artists never set foot in Europe for any promotional activities before. These are all evidence of the Wave of Korean Culture reaching foreign lands.

Binh Nguyen,
a Vietnamese intern

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