October 2012 Archives


The Korean wave, also known as hallyu, may not have been a relevant phenomenon two years ago, but recently has been getting more attention in North America. Now even those who shun both pop music and Korean culture would have heard, seen, giggled at, or/and puzzled by Psy's outrageously catchy "Gangngam Style". Some even claim that Psy's (arguably incidental) exposure to international audiences on YouTube demonstrates that K-pop has finally achieved its hard-earned break into the North American music market. Others, like blogger and journalist Esther Oh, rebut with outright skepticism (Oh). But whether you anticipate it or are tormented by the possibility of a K-pop apocalypse, the genre, or rather, phenomena has made an impact on at least some North American audiences --a ripple effect, however small, that stirred an interest in me and other North American bloggers to explore, question and speculate.

Apopalypse Now: K-Pop Invades North America


by Ally Mutsmakher


Let me be the first to stand amidst a dusty street, while the townsfolk take shelter behind bartered doors, and cry: "The Asians are coming! The Asians are coming!"

Well, the "South Koreans K-pop idols are coming" more specifically but it's unlikely that these perfectly primped and made-up visitors, clad in colourful clothes and dangerously high-heeled shoes, would arouse such an unwelcoming response in their North American hosts. They are far too pretty for us to suspect of them having any ulterior political motives.

A decade ago K-pop would have been a completely foreign concept, but recently K-pop has been getting more attention in North America. Now it's very possible to meet another non-Korean Canadian with a keen interest in K-pop, whereas before attending a mostly Asian populated concert would put you in a white minority.  Now even those who have no knowledge of K-pop or any other Asian culture would have been probably blasted with Psy's in-your-face music video for "Gangnam Style". The video's humour and playfulness have done the impossible: a foreign music video with a foreign theme, performed in a foerign lagnuage has proved to be universal.


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