Global Promotional Strategies in K-pop

Credit: Pixabay

by Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Globalization remains key to K-pop’s spread around the world, but it is not one size fits all. As time goes on, Korean agencies adopt a range of promotional strategies to spread K-pop throughout the world.

It is not secret that K-pop utilizes globalization. Writers have sought to identify singular strategies and apply them to the entire K-pop world. In the article “The Globalization of K-pop: Korea’s Place in the Global Music Industry,” Ingyu Oh focuses on the “L” component in what she describes as the G-L-G globalization process:  “K-pop’s differentiation strategy to make the ‘L’ process attractive to a global audience is roughly threefold: (1) numbers; (2) physique; and (3) voice-dance coordination” (400).  Patrick St. Michel argues in his Atlantic article, “How Korean Pop Conquered Japan,” that “K-Pop stars out-sex their J-Pop counterparts. The members of Girls’ Generation show a fair amount of skin in their music videos, while many fans were drawn to KARA by a chunk of choreography Wikipedia dubs “the butt dance.”  He mentions BoA, but doesn’t apply this theory to explain her longtime success in Japan. His argument also does not explain the success of male groups in Japan, including TVXQ, SHINee, BigBang and 2PM.

Instead, Korean agencies use a range of strategies to promote their groups globally.

Language and Training

Oh does a good job of summarizing the training process for Korean “idol” stars: “Trainees go through vocal, dancing, language, and theatrical acting lessons for at least five hours a day in the evening after school” (402). While the results of vocal and dance training is evident in performances, language acquisition is key to appealing to global audiences because of the appearances where fans can see the group.  For example, Key from the K-pop group SHINee shows off his multi-lingual skills, sharing the group’s greeting in Chinese, Korean, English and Japanese:

Increasingly, members of K-pop groups are learning different languages. GOT7‘s member Jackson speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and English. Rookie group Varsity features members who speak Korean, Chinese, English, Arab, and French. The choice of languages that K-pop members speak is not random. They reflect areas of the world to which K-pop agencies seek to spread. While the acquisition of Chinese and Japanese would allow the group to engage with potential fans in China and Japan( the largest music markets closest to Korea), the acquisition of English, Arabic and French belie aspirations that go beyond East Asia.

Releasing tracks in Korean another language

Korean artists will debut in various countries in addition to debuting in Korea. BoA debuted in Korea, but developed a substantial career in Japan. More recent groups tend to debut in multiple countries. UP10TION debuted in Korea, China and Japan.  SF9 debuted in Korea and Japan.  UKISS also debuted in Japan after debuting in Korea. Such debuts increasingly involve releasing their  Korean tracks in other languages.  EXO releases entire albums in both Korean and Chinese. SHINee rereleased some of their most popular early Korean hits in Japanese as part of their debut in Japan, including “Juliette,” “Lucifer,” and “Replay.”

Releasing original tracks in another language

Another promotional strategy is when groups release new material solely in a different language. TVXQ have a long track record of releasing singles as well as entire albums in Japanese without a Korean counterpart, including Tense, Tone, Time and Tree. 

Foreign members of groups

Increasingly, K-pop groups are featuring foreign members. Super Junior paved the way by including Chinese member Zhou Mi and Chinese-Canadian member Henry in their subgroup, Super Junior M. Since that time, Korean agencies have been trying to gain foreign fans with the inclusion of foreign members. Rookie group Pentagon has members from other countries, including Yuto, who was born in Japan, and Yan An, who was born in China. Groups will also have Japanese stage names to reach out to foreign fans, such as Hoshi in Seventeen and Wei in UP10TION.

Rather than rely on one mode of globalization, K-pop continues to diversify its promotional strategies.

Sources

EMI Records Japan. “SHINee – JULIETTE[Japanese ver.] Music Video Full.” YouTube. 7 Apr 2011. https://youtu.be/lT-iBCuoNS4 (26 May 2017).

Kwon Yoo Shin. “TVXQ – Time Works Wonders.” YouTube. 27 Dec 2014. https://youtu.be/4vKKgAO6vBQ. (26 May 2017).

Oh, Ingyu. “The Globalization of K-pop: Korea’s Place in the Global Music Industry.” Korea Observer 44.3 (2013): 389-409.

PinkyGirlxoxo. “SHINee Key speaking in 3 languages.” YouTube. 4 Apr 2012. https://youtu.be/h0we-mNztdE (17 Apr 2017).

St. Michel, Patrick. “How Korean Pop Conquered Japan.” The Atlantic. 13 Sept 2011. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/how-korean-pop-conquered-japan/244712/ (17 Apr 2017).

 

Creative Commons License
Global Promotional Strategies in K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For Your Reading Pleasure: A Hallyu Bibliography, Part 4: GLOBAL IMPACT and GLOBALIZATION

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series of bibliographic entries about Hallyu.   These entries are listed by year, not by author (TIP: If you know about a title or author and you want to see if it’s included in this listing, use the CTRL +F function).

To learn more about my searching parameters, information-gathering processes, and your ability to access these items, see my earlier essay titledFor Your Reading Pleasure: Introducing A Hallyu Bibliography.”  Click for Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 of the bibliography.

800px-Seoul,_nighttime
Satellite photo of Seoul and surrounding area at night. Photo credit: Wikipedia Public Domain.

This is a working post, so if you would like to submit items to this list or to the bibliography, please contact me directly at kaetrena@mailbox.sc.edu

NOTE:  In order to make it easier to locate authors (and where possible), I’ve modified these APA Style citations by adding full author names where possible.

Global Impact

Dator, Jim. and Yongseok Seo. (2004). Korea as the wave of a future: The emerging dream society of icons
and aesthetic experience. Journal of Futures Studies 9(1): 31–44. Accessed 27 March 2012 from http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/9-1/04.pdf?referer=www.clickfind.com.au

Cho, Hae Joang. (2005). Reading the “Korean Wave” as a Sign of Global Shift.  Korea Journal 45: 147–82. Accessed 27 March 2012 from http://www.ekoreajournal.net/issue/view_pop.htm?Idx=3359

Mangliankay, Roald. (2006). When the Korean wave ripples. IIAS Newsletter, 42: 15. Accessed 27 March 2014 from https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/12766/IIAS_NL42_15.pdf?sequence=1

Yang-hwan, Jeong. (2007). Comics soar as new Korean wave. Korea focus on current topics, 15(1):67-69. Accessed 27 March 2014 from http://www.koreafocus.or.kr/images/upload/pdf/101439.pdf

Shin, Hyunjoon. (2009). Have you ever seen the Rain? And who’ll stop the Rain?: the globalizing project of Korean pop (Kpop). Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 10(4): 507-523.

Park, Gil-sung. Manufacturing creativity: Production, performance, and the dissemination of K-pop. Korea Journal, 53(4): 14-33.

 Globalization

Nederveen Pieterse, Jan. (1995). Globalization as hybridization. In M. Featherstone, S. Lash and R. Robertson (Eds.) Global Modernities. pp.45 – 68. London: Sage.Cho, Uhn. 2005. Positioning the Korean wave in the nexus between globalization and localization. Korea Journal, 45(4): 143-146.

Hyun, Oh-seok. 2004. Taking advantage of the Hallyu wave. Korea Focus, 12(6): 47-49.

Lee, Hee-Eun. (2005). Othering ourselves: identity and globalization in Korean popular music, 1992-2002. Thesis, University of Iowa.(see also, Identity and Nationalism)

Kim, Youna. (2005). Experiencing globalization. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(4): 445-463.

Kim, Ju Young. (2007). Rethinking media flow under globalisation: rising Korean wave and Korean TV and film policy since 1980s. PhD thesis, University of Warwick. Accessed 27 March 2014 from http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/1153/1/WRAP_THESIS_Kim_2007.pdf

Seo, Yongseok. (2006). East Asian response to the globalization of culture: perceptional change and cultural policy. In J. Dator, Dick Pratt and Yongseok Soo (Eds.) Fairness, globalization and public institutions: East Asia and beyond. X: University of Hawai’i Press. pp. 319 – X. (see also, Culture)

Yang, J. (2007). Globalization, nationalism and regionalization: The case of Korean popular culture. Development and Society, 36(2): 177-199.

Sung, Sang Yeon. (2008). Globalization and the regional flow of popular music: the role of the Korean wave (Hanliu) in the construction of Taiwanese identities and Asian values. Thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Le, Lan Xuan. (2009). Imaginaries of the Asian modern: text and context at the juncture of nation and region. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Ryoo,  W.   (2009).  Globalization,  or  the  logic  of cultural  hybridization:  The  case  of the  Korean  wave.  Asian Journal  of Communication,  19(2),  137 -15I .

Iwabuchi, Koichi. (2010). Globalization, East Asian media cultures and their politics. Asian Journal of Communication, 20(2): 197-212.

Hogarth, Hyun-key Kim. (2013). The Korean wave: An Asian reaction to Western-dominated globalization. Perspectives on Global Development & Technology, 12(1/2): 135-171.

Hong, Soonkwan. (2013). Surfing the Korean wave: A postcolonial critique of the mythologized middlebrow consumer culture in Asia. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16(1): 53-75.

Oh, Ingyu. (2013). The globalization of K-pop: Korea’s place in the global music industry. Korea Observer, 44(3): 389-409.

Ko, Nusta Carranza, Jeong-nam Kim, Song L. No, and Ronald Gobbi Simoes. (2014). The Korean wave Hallyu in looking at escapism in Peruvian society. Perspectives on Global Development & Technology, 13(3): 332-346.

Lee, Gyu Tag. (2014). De-nationalization and re-nationalization of culture: The globalization of K-pop. Dissertation, George Mason University.

Meza, Xanat Varga & Han Woo Park. (2015). Globalization of cultural products: A webometric analysis of Kpop in Spanish-speaking countries. Quality & Quantity, 49(4): 1345-1360.

Kong, Hiu Yan. (2016). The globalization of K-pop: The interplay of external and internal forces. Thesis, Furtwangen University.  Accessed 7 April 2020 from https://opus.hs-furtwangen.de/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/1294/file/Furtwangen_MBA_Hiu+Yan+Kong.pdf

Happy Reading!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License