“The Beatles” Although it has been 40 years since they disbanded, they are still a legendary male group in the history of Pop music. The Beatles penetrated into an American music market that is sometimes hard for foreign singers to succeed in. The British Invasion is a phrase often used to describe this situation. 50 years later, a new phrase similar to “The British Invasion” It is the “Korean Invasion.” This word was created to express the K-POP hits in Europe, just like the Beatles’ songs did in America. Korean people already have confidence that Korean culture, including K-POP, could have made Asians excited and inspired.
The Korean wave began from dramas and finally came to the surface Thanks to K-POP in Europe. It is likely that a great number of people read about the popularity of K-POP from Europe. Therefore, we covered briefly what is happening in three European nations; Britain, France and Germany. Lastly, we covered how the government should act to keep up with all the attention on Korean music and culture.
Factors Leading K-POP to Be Success
K-POP male group BIGBANG
K-POP attracts a great number of global people. What has inspired them to fall into fascination with K-POP?
Above all, the distance from Europe to Korea is quite far. However, the Internet helps K-POP to be spread. For example, free video sites such as Youtube or SNS (Social Network Service) representatively Facebook have had an influence on the Korean Invasion. Originally, songs were introduced by big record companies when they released an album. Thanks to more informal routes like Youtube, SNS and so on, Korean singers could approach European people. Also, some people who were interested in Japanese Pop naturally found K-POP.
Interviewee Esther, an editor-in-chief of K-magazin (a Korean culture magazine written in Germany) pointed out that Korean singers’ outstanding talent is a factor of the success in Europe. She first knew K-POP through Tong Vang Xien Qi (TVXQ) and fell in love with their charm; good looks, dance skill, singing skill and so on. Likewise, SHINee, GIRL’S GENERATION and many other Korean singers are loved for these reasons. Additionally, their choreography is easy to follow and the songs are addictive. There are no idol groups in Germany, so Germans were amazed by their appearances.
Considering all this, you can understand why Europeans are so crazy about K-POP. Now, let’s learn a little more about each nations’ specific attraction to the music.
In Britain, the Korean male group SHINee performed their debut in a Japanese concert at the Abbeyroad studio on 18th June. To meet SHINee, many British fans, about 800, waited in a long line. The Abbeyroad studio is a famous place because the Beatles had a live concert at this place before. Above all else, it is well-known because of the Beatles’ album jacket picture, which is shown below. The Abbeyroad studio is possessed by a big Japanese distribution company so it recognized SHINees’ possibility for success. So SHINee had their performance in order to give a memorable debut in Japan. Although this concert was not aimed at British fans, it was a big event in that the Abbeyroad studio is a privileged place in Pop history.
A flash mob is a group of people coordinated by email to meet to perform some predetermined action at a particular place and time and then disperse quickly. One of these occured at the Trafalgar Square because they are a popular activity for the young, native age group. It took place on July 9th and the goal was to get K-POP singers to hold a concert for British fans. They rallied a flash mob because they were inspired by a live concert in France of SM TOWN (a Korean entertainment company) singers so they wanted to perform a live concert as well. Although a record-breaking number of people did not assemble for this activity, Evans, a supervisor of the Thames River Festival, one of the festivals in London in September, decided to invite some Korean singers. It is going to be the second performance to take place in Britain. It was meaningful because British fans accomplished the second concert themselves, by showing their appreciation of K-POP with the flash mob.
“SM TOWN LIVE IN PARIS CONCERT” This was an example of just how many Europeans have taken a profound interest in K-POP. This concert was going to be given on June 18th and 6,700 seats were sold in just 15 minutes. On May 1st, some disappointed people had not booked seats also did a flash mob to ask singers to give one more concert. They made an activity in front of the famous tourist site, the Louvre museum. Due to this incident, SM Entertainment was determined to hold a concert on the next day, June 12th. Seats for that day also were sold out in 20 minutes. What a fast response! Koreans could feel the popularity of K-POP just by listening to this news.
There is a K-POP fan club called Korean Connection in France. One goal of Korean Connection was planning concerts on June 11th and 12th with SM Entertainment. However, members in this club do not stop simply listening to Korean songs through their earphones. They passionately planned a specific event to express their affection for K-POP. Specifically, they opened a dance contest on May 8th at Espace Champerret Convention in Paris. About 5,000 fans came together and danced to K-POP. In addition to modern music, Korean Connection tried to teach visitors about traditional Korean culture, such as samulnori, taekwondo and so on. They advertised Korea themselves so they could be a bridge between France and Korea.
According to the Korea Culture Center (KCC) in Paris, nearly 500 people visited KCC to register for Korean classes. Although there were in great demand for Korean clsses, only half of that figure could sign up because of the deficiency in classes. What inspired them to visit KCC? 50% of those visitors came there because of their interest in Korean culture. France is famous for having pride in their culture. Considering this fact, Koreans feel satisfaction.
One event that created attention to K-POP in Germany was a performance by Rain in Dresden. Rain is a famous celebrity both as an actor and a singer in Korea. He was invited to the Dresden Music Festival that was held on May 19th. Although that concert was not his sole performance, the crowd requested an encore and he got a standing ovation from the local fans. He performed in the Semper Opera house. According to KCC in Germany, German media asked to receive a lot of information about Rain. A reaction of this performance was enthusiastic. Besides, the press said that the “audience’s average age might be the lowest ever.” Korean singers such as MBLAQ, TVXQ, 2NE1, and Beast were listed at the top of the VIVA Chart Clip as well.
On July 24th, 2011, GIRL’S GENERATION let global people assemble to Korea. It is because a concert of GIRL’S GENERATION was held that day, it had role butter for global people to visit Korea. Fans and reporters watched and covered the performance of GIRL’S GENERATION in Germany illustrated the Korean wave situation very well.
However, a performance conditions in Korea cannot keep up with this high demand because there are only a few concert halls that are large enough to accomodate both local and overseas fans. In Korea, the purpose of most concert halls is to show a small performance, so the majority are insufficient for K-Pop singers. Most of the large enough concert halls are located in Seoul. For example, Jamsil Stadium can hold 50,000 people but there is no ceiling. Therefore,singers cannot perform fancy acts like holding onto a wire. Although few concert halls have excellent acoustics, they usually prefer high culture acts and do not want to host K-POP singers. In the case of Japan, it has a lot of Pop concert halls. For example, the Tokyo Dome can accommodate 40,000 people and is equipped with great conditions for a music concert. Even small scale Japanese cities have a minimum of one Pop concert.
The Korean government must suggest a solution to the problem of inadequate concert halls. In response, it opened the Olympic Hall to specialize Pop music concerts by rebuilding Olympic Park. Although SM Entertainment director Jeong Chang-wan said this opening of Olympic Hall is a positive move, a midair stage is not available.
The government should build various concert halls for K-POP singers to perform and show their excellent skills. The development and promotion of K-POP concerts here in Korea would satisfy the needs of both local and overseas fans. Also, if foreigners who visit Korea to see a concert are more satisfied, more and more visitors will travel to Korea.