The popularity of K-pop has grown considerably over the past few years, with more and more international fans being swept up by the hallyu storm every day. But in the midst of the genre's growing popularity in places like America and Australia, K-pop has managed to also reach out to one surprising area of the world - South America.
As explained by Jeff Benjamin, in the New York Times, the music scene in Chile has undergone a surprising change over the past few months, the biggest of which was when BTS were greeted by hordes of screaming fans and numerous reporters arrived in the country for their sold-out March 11 and 12 concert dates.
In a country where homegrown talent get given the spot light and musical imports tend to be Latin-influenced, or American pop music, the rise of K-pop in Chile is seen as something of a surprise and it represents how the genre has managed to seep into the country's music scene via non-traditional ways.
Benjamin points out that part of BTS and their peers' rise in Chile can be attributed to Coca-Cola FM, the soft drink's online radio platform that is massively popular in the country, and which also runs a K-pop program hosted by Chilean D.J., Ridrigo Gallina every Friday. Another significant factor is social media and how K-pop has managed to embrace platforms in a variety of ways.
BTS have over five million Twitter followers, and there's a dedicated Chilean Twitter account that regularly posts Spanish translations of articles about the group and the group's social media posts. Chilean K-pop fans also regularly tune into South Korea's V-app, a popular live-streaming platform in which many big-name K-pop artists regularly hold broadcasts that fans from around the world can join in and participate.
While Western boy groups like the Backstreet Boys, One Direction, and Jonas Brothers have all performed in Chile over the years, K-pop is pretty new in the country, as groups have only started visiting since 2012. But it didn't take long for Chilean fans to catch onto the trend. Benjamin wrote that when BTS performed in Chile in 2015, promoters only booked out half of the 12,500 seater Movistar Arena. Cut to the start of 2017 when BTS were riding on the release of their successful album "WINGS," the boys managed to sell out two shows in the same venue in mere minutes.
Not only were ticket and merchandise sales off the charts for BTS, but the fan reception to the group were on a whole new scale. During some moments in BTS' March shows where the boys weren't even performing, the audience screams reached an astonishing 127 decibels - well past the noise level where hearing loss becomes serious concern.
With that kind of reception for BTS and the hundreds upon hundreds of Chilean fans lining up for BTS tickets weeks before the actual concert - so much so that it made the news - the boys have helped pave the way for K-pop in the country, and perhaps this will be the catalyst in which Chile becomes the next big K-pop hot spot for future groups to come.
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