With K-Pop becoming more international, it’s only expected that agencies will recruit foreign trainees to gain interest worldwide. YG Entertainment have recently started holding auditions in China where as companies such as SM Entertainment have already debuted a few Chinese artists. Is K-Pop taking over the world, or is the world taking over K-Pop?
Michelle Lee was a contestant on K-Pop star before going off to be a solo artist. She’s half African and half Korean but despite this, she doesn’t look Korean at all. Appearance in Korea is a huge topic, and it is ‘undesirable’ to have dark skin, so you can imagine the controversy and struggles this young girl went through in order to make her mark in the industry. Check out her debut.
Despite her powerful vocals and hard work, she didn’t win K-Pop star and a lot of people are putting it down to the way she looks. K-Pop relies heavily on ‘good looks’ in order to sell posters, t-shirts etc, if the star isn’t considered good looking by social standards, the products simply wont sell.
Another example could be Olivia from The Gloss (remember them? find out more here). She’s pure French, yet she was still decided to debut in a K-Pop girl group alongside Koreans and Korean-Americans. There were mixed reactions when people found out about her – some say it doesn’t matter whereas some people simply won’t listen to a K-Pop group if one member isn’t Korean. On the other hand, I noticed a lot of French fans coming in to support their new rising star, meaning the tactic to reach other countries due to the use of an artist’s nationality has worked.
These artists may not be as well known, but Busker Busker is notably famous in Korea, and it’s not because of their pure American drummer. He started out teaching English in Korea when he applied for Superstar K with his band mates. Despite not being Korean and not knowing how to speak it, the Korean public took a liking to him and Busker Busker. This shows that it’s about the quality of the music being produced, not the nationality of those making it.
So what is it that makes K-Pop more interesting for the international fans? Is it purely because the stars are Korean, or the catchy tunes and choreography? Some people argue that K-Pop is soon to be lost to mainstream American music. It’ll change and adapt with ‘foreign’ artists and will slowly change itself to appeal to America as a whole. K-Pop is to promote Asia as a whole, even using Korean lyrics it can become mainstream thanks to PSY. So why should we accept non-Asians when we’ve got enough of that in American and British music?
Other people argue that K-Pop is music. It’s a genre to itself and we shouldn’t bother who’s singing it. Anyone with a decent knowledge in Korean should take part. If people working behind the scenes are allowed to be non-Asian, then why should a different role be applied to the artists themselves?
I feel that K-Pop has made Korea a country people actually know about, and it doesn’t just fall under the “Chinese” or “Japanese” category anymore. It’s inspired a lot of young people to learn about Korean culture and some even taking on the language! For this reason, it’s important that we don’t lose too much of the traditional Korean side of it, but I can’t see an issue with a few non-Asians joining in too. As long as the music isn’t badly effected I’m happy.