In with the new: The western evolution of Korean Pop


Chase Martin

Popular Kpop albums (left to right) Skool Luv Affair, Butter and Be by BTS.

Chase Martin, Writer

K-pop, a Korean pop music genre, has taken over the music industry in recent years. Initiating the growth of K-pop, second-generation groups like Wonder Girls, Big Bang and Girl’s Generation made the first approach in the western market. With the increasing popularity of boy group BTS, K-pop has gained numerous western fans in the Americas and Europe. However, with this rising popularity came an abundance of disapproval.

Many Korean pop fans believe that the western music market is colonizing K-pop and everything they love about it. Over the years, the amount of English words used in Korean songs has been argued and has become controversial within the fandom, specifically, the all-English releases “Butter” and “Dynamite” from BTS. Junior Paige Anselmo says, “As they’ve continued to integrate more and more into western culture, BTS has lost much of the meaning behind their music.” Reaching past one’s beginning may harm their future.

On the other hand, fans are appreciative that their favorite musicians are branching out to produce music for international fans. Boy group Monsta X produced an entirely English album featuring artists such as Pitbull and French Montana titled All About Luv. Other artists including Itzy, Nct 127 and Got7 have released English versions of their songs.

Social media platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram and Twitter also continue to aid K-pop in its growth. Korean idols can reach out to western fans much more easily and show off their personalities through such platforms; most infamously, Yeonjun from txt, P1harmony’s Keeho and the members of Enhypen and Stray Kids.

K-pop continues to grow exponentially with the help of popular groups. This includes Twice, Blackpink and BTS. Fourth generation leaders Ateez, The Boyz and StayC hold a promising future for the name of Korean pop music. Kpop is slowly growing more acceptable in western cultures and is being integrated into modern society.

According to Daisuki, the growth of K-pop’s global popularity can be verified through its physical album sales. In 2016, the physical album sales were just short of 10 million copies. This number continued to grow throughout the years until the ending of 2021 where 53 million copies were sold globally. 2022 sales seem promising from the start with Enhypen already selling over 700,000 copies with their album Dimension:Answer.