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Title [Media Analysis] K-pop Story in Spanish Daily La Vanguardia
No 77 Inquiry 670 Date 2018.06.20


K-pop report by La Vanguardia (Source: La Vanguardia)


La Vanguardia is a conservative Spanish daily newspaper founded in 1881. It has a daily average readership of 651,000, which is continuing to rise. In its June 17 issue, La Vanguardia reported that some 250,000 people tweeted the news that K-pop group BTS, which recently returned with single “Fake Love,” won the Top Social Artist award for the second year in a row. The article focused on the K-pop paradigm which is reaching its climax thanks to social media and YouTube, despite the language and cultural differences.

The article introduced BTS as the most popular Korean group that shows off addictive tunes and elaborate choreography. The K-pop phenomenon is not limited to BTS, and other K-pop groups are also gaining global fame, the newspaper said. The music video for “Fake Love” by BTS, which consists of seven young men, got over 10 million views on YouTube in just four hours after it was released, 160 million views in 28 days. Each of their posts on Twitter score record numbers of retweets. It noted that social media is the driving force behind the globalization of K-pop. Since “Gangnam Style,” which set records on YouTube five years ago, K-pop has not stopped spreading across the globe, the newspaper said.


Western countries such as the US are used to exporting their cultures and celebrities. Western entertainment has been at the epicenter of the cultural world. But now, pop music is changing, the newspaper said. Mass culture and audiovisual communication have become the most important keywords, with musical qualities and genres becoming secondary. The article quotes anthropologist Tarina Milan, who suggests that social media is the vessel that can carry communication between people at a distance. If it weren’t for social media, it would be impossible to communicate how we do today, she said. Even Marco Polo never accomplished what we have now. Until now, we could only see the proliferation of cultures created in the West, but social media has made global communication horizontal, she said, adding that K-pop is the first good example of the globalization of pop music that spread from Asia, instead of the West.

What made K-pop successful in not just Asia but also the US, Europe, Latin America, India, and even North Korea are themes that the young audiences can relate to, the attitudes of the K-pop stars towards their fans, and perfect choreography, the article said. It noted that the Korean entertainment industry responsible for intense training of talented teenagers played a big role too. The article, however, did not criticize the Korean training system, and merely mentioned it as something that helped globalize K-pop. About girl group Red Velvet taking part in the joint performance of South and North Korean performers, the article asked if North Korea would allow K-pop’s peaceful conquest.

The article also mentioned the fans that worship K-pop, which is breaking down borders and connecting the world through all kinds of social media—Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Guillem Martínez, a devout K-pop fan and Asian linguistics major at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona who is planning to study in Korea, said in an interview: “Enjoying K-pop was different from the minority culture of enjoying Japanese comics and animation. I am mesmerized by K-pop and Korean culture because I can understand it as it has many similarities with us, while it expresses itself in ways that are totally different from us. I like commercial music, and K-pop has the elements of music that I like.” [The popularity of K-pop] many not change the history of music, but one thing that is clear, the article says, is that Korea has moved on from a cultural colony to an exporter of culture.

Setting aside the value of K-pop in music history, people are accepting the existence of a force that attracts people across the globe. I believe this means that K-pop has the elements to become a pop culture of Europe. Six years have passed since “Gangnam Style” swept the world with its horse dance. K-pop spread from Korea to the world ever since, and I am now curious how K-pop will take root in the world.


An advertisement congratulating the fifth anniversary of BTS at the metro station of Plaza de Espana in Madrid (Source: Jung Noo-ri)


※ Reference: http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20180617/45178990231/pop-corea-bts-fake-love-k-pop.html     


Jung Noo-ri (Correspondent of KOFICE in Spain)