Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York Times: Social networking sites help popularize K-pop phenomenon

By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines - The power of social media, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, is propelling Korean Wave, or hallyu, to new heights and helping the spread of its popularity to North America and other regions.
Super Junior (www.newsen.com)


2NE1 (www.newsen.com)
These social networking sites “make it easier for K-pop bands to reach a wider audience in the West, and those fans are turning to the same social networking tools to proclaim their devotion,” according to a New York Times article titled “Bringing K-pop to the West” published March 4.
The NY Times article said the internet is bringing K-pop singers closer to their fans outside Asia.
“When bands like 2NE1, Super Junior and SHINee hold concerts in Europe and the United States, tickets sell out within minutes, and fans have used Facebook and Twitter to organize flash mobs demanding more shows, as they did in Paris in May,” according to the article.
Indeed, K-pop singers nowadays have their own official Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter accounts where they announce upcoming albums, concerts, appearances and TV shows.
On the other hand, loyal fans translate songs, Korean TV shows where their idols appear on, Korean news articles and posts by the singers on Twitter or me2day into different languages.
The NY Times article said, “K-pop bands’ style is a fusion of synthesized music, video art, fashionable outfits and teasing sexuality mixed with doe-eyed innocence.”
It said the Korean music industry focused in digital content and with the increasing influence of social networking sites, “K-pop bands began to gain more traction in the West.”
It cited the case of singer Jay Park, whose songs and albums reached No. 1 on iTunes.
NY Times quoted Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective, a digital music distributor, as saying, “Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Jay Park is not just an artist but also his own P.R. agent, fan club president and TV network. He is bypassing traditional media gatekeepers locally and gate-crashing his way globally onto overseas charts via social media.”
It added that, “Korean entertainment companies have also learned to market to a more receptive audience — the preadolescents,” citing the recent TV movie of the Wonder Girls shown on TeenNick channel in the US.
The New York Times article added that K-pop is helping boost the cultural image of South Korea.
“A global exporting powerhouse, the country [South Korea] had always chafed at its lack of cultural exports that would let the rest of the world know that it was more than a maker of Hyundai cars and Samsung cellphones,” the article said.
For Andre Kang of Star Empire agency, “K-pop has become Korea’s killer content,” the NY Times quoted him as saying.

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