K-pop’s international rise in popularity

By Grace Everett | Photographer

Have you ever listened to music in a language that you didn’t understand? Have you ever heard of Korean pop? Personally, I didn’t know it existed until a few years ago. Today, however, it is a commonly known genre.

When I was a junior in high school, a friend of mine showed me a music video. About a month later, the song somehow got stuck in my head. The song was “Baby” by South Korean boy band Astro. From that point on, I was hooked. Around the same time in 2018, BTS, another K-pop boy band, was gaining quite a following in many countries, including the United States. K-pop has since gained an incredible amount of international popularity.

The rise in popularity for K-pop is a good thing for many reasons, the first one being that it encourages diversity in music taste. For a lot of people, myself included, K-pop has been a gateway into other genres in other languages. I have discovered musical genres and styles that I didn’t even know existed because I saw a music video when I was 17 years old. I would have missed out on so much if I never gave K-pop a chance. Now that it’s more popular, more people can discover it rather than miss out on something they might have enjoyed.

K-pop is a great genre that not only caters to several different tastes but also appeals to several groups of people. American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “music is the universal language of mankind,” and K-pop is a prime example. Despite many K-pop fans not knowing Korean, the genre continues to reach international audiences. I don’t speak or understand Korean, but that didn’t stop me from fully diving into the genre. The first step is giving new things a chance.

The millions of fans that K-pop has acquired over the years have resulted in a number of massive communities or fanbases. I’m not going to pretend that the K-pop community is free of problems, because it’s not. If you know anything about K-pop, you know that its fanbases have quite the reputation, both good and bad. But I’m here to talk about the good. As dramatic as it sounds, I am not overexaggerating when I say the K-pop community is a force to be reckoned with. In 2020, fans of groups such as Monsta X, BTS and Loona came together in the name of political activism. There have also been instances in which fanbases have donated large amounts of money to charities. On a more personal note, I met some of my closest friends through K-pop, and the sense of community I gained has helped me through hard times.

In just a few years, K-pop has taken the world by storm, and I’m glad I got to witness its impact. Its rise in popularity is truly history in the making. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. You, too, can be a part of its legacy.