Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: The Explosion of K-Pop in Latin America

Recently, Korean Pop Star Psy’s 2012 viral music video for “Gangnam Style” became the first video to reach 2 billion views on YouTube. “Gangnam Style” is also often credited with bring Korean Pop (often referred to as K-Pop) into the U.S. media spotlight. The accessibility of YouTube has recent given K-Pop new fan base amongst Latin American teenagers. Turning away from pop artists such as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, “Pop Coreano” groups such as Super Junior and Big Bang are attracting huge crowds to their concerts in places like Peru and Chile. Retailers and other businesses in Latin America are catching on to the K-Pop trend amongst teenagers. For example, shopping centers have begun to sell South Korean clothing, music and food, and salons in Peru are offering haircuts so their clients can resemble their favorite K-Pop artists. This Wisdom.Applied Wednesday, we are exploring the why and how of this new pop cultural phenomenon in Latin America.

The pull that K-Pop has on Latin American teenagers has to do with the nature of the music. K-Pop is known for providing performances that are spectacular in nature, with songs that are optimistic and uplifting which is something that many young people in Latin America find appealing, especially when compared with less positive tone of much of today’s popular music. Additionally, Time Magazine spoke to a woman in Chile who attributed her love of K-Pop to the fact that it makes her “dance and smile,” as opposed to many Chilean songs that are “political and social relics.” The history and culture of Asia and Latin America are drastically different, yet common ground is being found in an art form as a result of technology: YouTube.

The recent explosion of the popularity of K-Pop outside of Asia, not just in Latin America but all over the world, has been likened to the “Beatlemania” of the 1960s. Unlike the British Invasion of The Beatles, K-Pop’s increasingly global influence has been credited to the power of YouTube, which is why almost every person with Internet saw “Gangnam Style” in October of 2012. More and more people are turning to YouTube for visual entertainment, with 1 billion unique monthly visitors and 6 billion hours of video watched each month. YouTube is often used as a marketing technique, but the case of K-Pop illustrates how YouTube is able to take a small, niche concept or genre and transform it into a global, accessible sensation.

In the meantime, Latin American teenagers will continue to gather in local parks for K-Pop dance parties, be one of 10,000+ fans at a Super Junior concert and wait anxiously for their favorite stars to post more videos on YouTube.

Cover Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Jenny is a Junior Executive at SJG. She earned her BA in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies in 2014 from Colgate University. Outside the office, Jenny loves to travel (usually to Disney World), bake and watch copious amounts of TLC.