K-pop’s new global reachAs the van full of Korean pop stars from the groups TVXQ, SHINee and f(x) left Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris on Wednesday evening, some young French girls fell to the ground and burst into tears. Asked why they were crying, they said, “I can’t believe I have seen the faces of SHINee here.” Over 1,000 devoted fans of the popular Korean groups crowded into the airport arrival hall to see them when the entertainers visited the city for their first live performance in France.
Last month, hundreds of K-pop aficionados staged a demonstration in front of the Louvre to demand a second Paris concert from the Korean pop stars. After their demand was met, another group of Korean Wave fans in Peru held a demonstration to demand that K-pop singers perform in the South American country.
The remarkable new Korean Wave boom is quickly spreading throughout the world, making middle-aged and elderly Koreans feel proud of what the young generation has achieved. Until the 1970s, Koreans would quench their deep thirst for the latest music by listening to American pop songs that the U.S. military’s radio station broadcast in Korea.
Now our young generation, armed with charming songs, dances, fashion and solid training, enthralls audiences around the world. The music video for “Gee,” by Girls’ Generation, has electrified people across the globe in what amounts to a huge boost for Korea’s cultural status.
Such a drastic turnaround carries big significance in Europe because K-pop fans have emerged spontaneously by way of social networking, including YouTube, instead of our entertainment industry’s aggressive marketing efforts as it did in Japan and China.
The performances in Paris was made possible partly thanks to the enthusiastic request of local fans to the Korean Cultural Center in the city.
The government reportedly sought to provide a minimum of support for the event by keeping a low profile. We welcome the decision because it is better to let popular culture flow freely rather than force the government to publicize the affair.
The excellent performance of our stars is already world famous. We hope that the government will do its best to create a proper environment for further promotion of K-pop through support for global distribution channels and copyright protection rather than direct or arbitrary interventions.