K-pop 'resonating with Western audiences'

K-pop 'resonating with Western audiences'

Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, is a multi-billion-dollar industry in South Korea.

Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, is a multi-billion-dollar industry in South Korea.

Popular acts are going global - including at music events in Australia, the United States and the Middle East.

Despite not understanding a word of Korean, Rachael White was hooked to K-pop the moment she heard it.

"I was just scrolling on Facebook and I found a trailer video and I clicked on it, and it was SHINee's (artist) video and it was a dance routine and I thought, 'Oh I really like that!' and eventually it got to SHINee and then it got to another band, and another band, and then yeah."

The19-year old Sydneysider confesses she now listens to K-pop every day, and attends K-pop dance classes.

"I use to like musicals -- the whole dancing and singing and acting kind of thing -- and K-pop in a way is that. They make you act on screen, they make you dance, they make you sing all at the same time, and I just found that really impressive. So I thought, 'You know, I want to do that, I want to try and dance and be cool like them'".

Rachael White keeps up with her favourite bands' latest songs and music videos on the online platform, YouTube.

"Social media is really important. I mean, without I don't think K-pop would be able to thrive. It's always on YouTube. It's always on Facebook. People gather around the world just to 'like' one certain band through Facebook or Tumblr, or any of those social media pages."

K-pop artists are using social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to grow audiences around the world.

Boyfriend, a six-member boy-band, has over three-million Facebook fans, and its first YouTube video has attracted over 21 million views.

They were even invited to Australia to help launch Chinese New Year festivities in Sydney this year.

Singer Lee Jeongmin says the photo-based social media site, Instagram, lets them share more about themselves with fans.

(Translated)"We have just started Instagram and actually we just took a photo in the elevator. Fans like the fact that they can follow in real time."

JJCC -- a K-pop group created by the well-known Chinese martial arts actor Jackie Chan -- is also in Australia.

The band includes members from Australia and the United States, to help attract English-speaking audiences.

25 year old Prince Mak - whose real name is Henry - left Sydney four years ago to join the band, based in Seoul.

"We actually have a lot of foreign fans. I'd say, more than Korean-based fans. Maybe because I'm Australian and we have an American member. It's really rare to have two foreign members in one K-pop group."

With a growing fan base, Prince Mak hopes K-pop will become even more popular in Australia.

"K-pop is growing in Australia and I hope after this time JJCC and Boyfriend come, that this time together make K-pop grow even better, even more than it is now ."

Dr Roald Maliangkay is the head of Korean Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, and has written extensively about the K-pop phenomenon.

Dr Maliangkay says the K-pop industry is being strategically marketed around the world.

"In (South) Korea itself you find that a lot of concerts these days, the people going to the concerts are actually tourists and foreigners -- so they are doing a good job at marketing it, marketing the packages to non-Koreans."

In the US, popular music festival Coachella has announced it will feature a K-pop act for the first time.

Dr Maliangkay says he's not surprised K-pop is resonating with Western audiences.

"It's more than just a music industry. It's very much a performative industry where there are different focus points, and so if you're thinking of influence, I think K-pop certainly has a lot more influence than your average Western pop at the moment."

Korean pop music appears to have even cracked the Middle East, with a K-pop convention to be held in the United Arab Emirates for the first time next month.



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