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BTS, presents a new route for ‘Global K-Pop’

  • [등록일]2017-07-20
  • [조회] 739

 The seven-man group BTS won the “Top Social Artist” award for the first time in the K-Pop groups at the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) in May 21st,defeating world-renowned artists. They were also selected as the only Koreans to be selected by the US weekly magazine 《Time》 as the “25 most influential people on the Internet.” It has great significance in that it globalized BTS.



BTS / Photo: Provided by Big hit entertainment

 K-Pop's overseas expansion is divided into several stages. The first step is “localization.” Boa's entry into Japan in 2001 was a thorough “localization.” She mainly used localization strategy to expand to certain countries such as the United States and China. Boa, managed by Avex, was even regarded as 'Made in Japan' by the Japanese. The group Kara, managed by Universal Japan, was not a thorough localization, but it was also accompanied by marketing to make them look like Japanese artists. The “localization” of the idol group is still an issue that cannot be overlooked, so one or two foreigners are often involved in the team.
 The second step is to perform abroad. Prior to PSY, the strategies of Wonder Girls and Rain to expand to the U.S. was to leave the country and go to the United States. Wonder Girls made a tour to the U.S. for two years, and Rain, who had an overseas tour mainly focusing on performances, canceled performances in Los Angeles and Hawaii. Rain was charged compensation from the Honolulu federal court due to the cancellation of performance in Hawaii, which required more study of the culture and laws of the country.
The third step is to use various routes such as SNS. After PSY, it has become possible to expand to the U.S. without actually going to the U.S. PSY’s Gangnam Style hit the world pop music market in 2012 all of a sudden. PSY's comic content attracted foreigners, but Scooter Braun, who was influential strength in online marketing and YouTube, played a big role in its expansion.
The global hit of BTS can be a new model of overseas expansion because it makes use of a different route and context. There is no localization and no foreigners on the team. BTS made their own music, performances, and music videos, and they achieved global consensus beyond their nationality through direct communication in SNS. They made and uploaded their content including the story of their growth from their debut to now onto YouTube, sharing their thoughts and daily life through SNS.
Exposing themselves in this way on the internet was suitable for not only the members but also fans who are more familiar with mobile devices, so many people were able to approach to BTS’ music and quickly become familiar with them. Of course, it was also possible because of the group’s endless efforts to make good music and give great performances for fans.


They showed how they practiced composing, dance, etc. even before their debut through their YouTube channel. / Source: YouTube “Bangtan TV” Account

 Since the debut, they built a so-called “Concept-dol” image based on youth themes with which both East and West sympathize through music videos. It was able to capture the hearts of not only A.R.M.Y, the core fandom, but also the world with the universal music tastes. Most of all, people around the world share the emotions and concerns associated with youth. Famous international artists are even envious of the fandom of BTS who are consistent and steady.
 Billboard also said, “The reason why BTS could succeed in America is that they sing their own songs.” Actually, many people of the younger generation around the world cover topics such as school, youth, and temptation, which are included in BTS’ music.


BTS are the first Korean singers to win in the Billboard Music Awards / Source /

 BTS have been communicating with their peers through music since their debut. The story of dreams, love, and happiness, which are the most important concerns of teenagers, was expressed in their school trilogy. After that, the BTS expressed the beauty, anxiety, and feeling of being lost of youth in their youth trilogy. They sang stories that only those at that age could tell with the voice of BTS, and they could effectively deliver them through the method of serial albums. Bringing out the sympathy of many young people by naturally telling contemporary stories with the growth of the members contributed to their popularity. This is the result of communicating with the world through the worries that everyone has, rather than just singing about a perfect love that is far from the real world.
After the themes of school and youth, the concept of “temptation” was the basis for the regular 2nd album “Wings” announced in October 2016. There was a feeling of lyricism, intensity, and a sense of being trapped. The lyrics bring up wings, souls, and addictions. I asked the CEO Bang Si Hyuk of BigHit Entertainment, who produced BTS, to explain the narrative.
 'The concept of 'Wings' is 'the boy who has met temptation'. It includes the story of the boy who encountered evil in the form of 'temptation', and his growth through destroying his childhood, current world, and furthermore the world of ‘goodness.’ In order to express the concept of the album in an authentic way, I carefully took care of everything involved with the album including short films, music video, the jacket image, and title song ‘Blood, sweat, tears.’ The short film and 'Blood, sweat, tears' music video continued to reveal the theme of 'wing', ensuring that the narrative elements of the concept were well delivered. The eagerness of the boy who met temptation was expressed both intensely and lyrically, not only through props but also the dance, make-up, and costumes. The individual elements all came together to express the singular image of ‘temptation’. ” 
I wanted to ask about the effect and response to the refrain of “Blood, sweat, and tears,” “I want it, want it.”
'It is a 'killing part' that explodes with the sound of Moombahton (reggae style electro house genre) trap from the slow tempo and highlights the powerful dance of the members who take control of the whole stage. Even though time has passed since the announcement, domestic fans, the public, and even foreign YouTubers are still singing along with it.' 
   BTS is strengthening their power to lead songs by internalizing their music beyond being the “Concept-dols,” which simply tell their narrative in songs and music videos. In the future, the power of communicating with people around the world will grow. This is the development of the humanistic images of idols who used to seem rather mechanical in the past and the expansion of cultural vitality to share and enjoy universal emotion with global fans.
 The lyrics also reveal their debut stories, challenges, and stories with their members. They also share their daily life on YouTube and Twitter to communicate with fans. This form of storytelling became a greater influence in the K-Pop market and stories were connected in the form of series, which showed their own view of the world. As each member's stories, characters, and narrative connections and reinforcements are built into their worldview, global fans are even showing their tendency to interpret and accept their lyrics as a worldview.
 Like ordinary people who upload their daily life to the SNS, members share their daily life with their fans. For example, Rap Monster, the leader, recommends his favorite music with a hashtag #RMusic, and Jimin uploads her selfies, giving her best regards every time she travels abroad. Jean takes videos of his dog, and J-Hope shows his small routines by uploading photographs, such as a visit to an exhibition. In addition to this, each member tells has a story they have in their minds, and then they give thanks after receiving awards through SNS. Thanks to the voluntary use of SNS and communication with fans on the other side of the globe, young people all over the world have fallen in love with these BTS.
 Sugar’s birthday Twitter video made by Jung Gook, and 'Bangtan BOMB (sub-playlist of YouTube channel)' 1st place runner scenes are popular. The videos often exceed 10 million views, and retweets and “Likes” reach the hundreds of thousands. The BTS’ twitter is operated as a team account, not as any of the individual member's own account.
 The method of the BTS has changed a lot from the past strategy of global expansion. Since they have become a “platform president” with fading boundaries between countries, it has become much more likely that they will gain popularity in more countries as the market changes.
BTS has attained EPIC, the highest rating on the social stage of “Next Big Sound,” which evaluates the popularity of artists on various global platforms. “EPIC” means “grand epic,” a great social star.


BTS selected as NEXT BIC Sound, on social stage’s EPIC rating/ Source: NeXT Big Sound

 Sugar said, 'We thought it is important to naturally and sincerely share our stories. From the beginning of our debut, we tried to use SNS for honest communication, and we did our best not to be pretentious.'
Rap Monster said, 'It is important how we feel about the lyrics. We combine hip-hop and sword dances, and we enjoy the benefits of media, in that many people translate our lyrics in various languages and upload them. '
 They also continue to study foreign languages and cultures. Right after winning the Billboard Music Awards and having a press conference, they flew to Japan for a performance. Rap Monster said, 'We are studying Japanese with the responsibility as the head of New Hallyu.'
 When the reporter who met Rap Monster said, “Your English pronunciation was very good when sharing your impressions of receiving the BBMAs award. I could you’re your emotion… ' He replied,' I did a lot of practice,' and showed modesty. Rap Monster is a native Korean, without any experience in studying abroad. We are expecting a bright future for Rap Monster, who is fluent in English and Japanese.
 Sugar said, 'I was shocked when my juniors called the BTS a role model.' J Hope says, 'We have a higher frequency of SNS communication than Justin Bieber, who has been awarded for the past six years. There are seven of us, and we’re trying to do more than our daily share. '
Some analysts argue that the BTS have been recognized in the United States because of their success in South America, such as Peru and Chile. The United States accepts South America's hit success culture as mainstream, and the big success of the BTS' tour of South America has had a big effect on America, including Billboard.
How will the BTS develop and evolve in the future? In addition, I asked Bang Si Hyuk what direction K-Pop Hallyu will take, and what role, change, and development can be expected to take place in Idol music. 
'BTS expressed their confusion by the temptation they faced in the outside world through 'Wings' after singing about the anxiety of being a teenager. From a larger perspective, the future musical walk will look the same as before. They will express their stories in a steady stream of music, and think about stories that anyone who has experienced those days can relate to. The next album theme is 'Love Yourself', but the specific details have not been decided yet.
 I think that the Hallyu craze in Japan and other Asian countries such as China and the Philippines has reached a certain degree of saturation. The stage of K-Pop is no longer limited to the Asian region, but has reached the level of being able to exert influence around the world. In many parts of the world, the number of channels that can show K-Pop such as YouTube and SNS has increased rapidly, and now people living on the other side of the globe can listen to BTS songs in Korea in real time. The K-Pop stage has expanded to the whole world, and idol music has become the forerunner.
Already, BTS' music is on the radio and TV programs from the United States to Argentina, Canada, Tunisia, Spain, and Singapore. If people can listen to the music of K-pop singers including BTS in more and more places, I think Korean pop music will soon become a genre in world music market like Latin music. I think that K-Pop’s expansion from an independent genre to the mainstream is also an issue that needs to be solved.'


* Seo Byung-ki, Reporter of The Herald Business