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Riding the K-pop wave by Gabriella Yannotti

2NE1. U-Kiss. MBLAQ. 2PM. Anyone who recognizes these bands is most likely a fan of the worldwide phenomenon that is Korean Pop music, or K-pop. Though bands like these originated in South Korea, their music continues to spread across the globe.

        K-pop, like American pop music, can vary in song style, and can be sweet, soulful, or anything in between. However, Korean pop music is generally upbeat and, of course, is sung in Korean. What makes this genre different is that it is often sung by large groups, composed of either all girls, or all boys. Also, nearly every K-pop song has a dance routine that accompanies it.
“I think… [K-pop] will spread globally because I know a lot of people who are into Asian culture despite the language difference,” said senior Annalee Manaloto. “I think it should because it gives other places a chance to diversify and gives Korea a way to network globally, achieving cultural integration.”

The spread of South Korean culture around the world is known as Hallyu, meaning “the Korean wave.” Indeed, countries all over the world have felt the wave of this genre of music. According to, Big Bang, a Korean boy band, won the Best International Act award at MTV’s 2011 EMA (European Music Awards) event, beating artists such as Britney Spears and Justin Bieber. Furthermore, MTV Iggy crowned Korean girl band 2NE1 Best New Band in the World.

        Popular K-pop band Girl’s Generation, also known as SNSD, arrived in New York on January 30th for their first official fansign event in the U.S. According to, this nine-member girl group stayed until February 2nd to appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and “LIVE! With Kelly.” They wrapped up their time in the big apple with an in-store autograph signing.
        Hundreds of SNSD fans (known as SONES) waited for several hours to meet Girl’s Generation. Though it is clear that they have many supporters in New York, this is only the second time SNSD has visited NYC. Despite this, bands like Girl’s Generation have built a strong fan base worldwide, mainly thanks to the internet.
        According to, YouTube officially added K-pop to its list of music genres in December. This was a part of a project with YouTube and Google called ‘Korea Go Global,’ in which YouTube agreed to promote Korean culture to the fullest. According to, as a result, Girl’s Generation’s 2009 hit single “Gee” now has over 60 million views on YouTube, and their latest single “The Boys” has over 30 million views already.
        SNSD is not the only band with a world-wide fan base. A girl band called Wonder Girls hosted a dance contest in November, and received submissions from America, Canada, England, China, France, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. They have also starred in a TV movie called “The Wonder Girls” which, according to, was released on TeenNick on February 2nd.
Though Korean pop music has gained many supporters worldwide, some are still unsure if the genre will continue to thrive.

“I don’t think that K-pop will spread globally because there are so many better English artists that more people can relate to and sing along, they all have a very similar sound, so no band will be able to breakout since they are no different from one another,” said senior Robin Olszewski.   

Whether or not K-pop will continue its worldwide success in the future is unclear. However, there is no doubt that the Korean wave is, at least currently, taking the world by storm.

The top 10 K-pop songs in February 2012 (according to

1) Lovey Dovey by T-Ara
2) This is War by MBLAQ
3) The Grasshopper Song by Sunny Hill
4) Crazy by Teen Top
5) Without You by Dynamic Duo
6) You and I by IU
7) Trouble Maker by HyunA (ft. Hyunseung)
8) Because You are You by Lee Hyun
9) Sorrow by 10cm
10) Love City Confession District Happiness Town by J-Cera


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