[Letters] When Korea is one, Arirang K-Pop will rule

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[Letters] When Korea is one, Arirang K-Pop will rule

Recently, SM Entertainment chair and founder Lee Soo-man was honored at Korea Society Gala in New York. As a Girls Generation music video blasted overhead, two initially separate discussions raged at table 28, namely 1.) How difficult it must be to so flawlessly synchronize such dance moves and 2.) What economic chances there might be in a hoped-for, post-Kim regime North Korea.

Suddenly, the two seemingly unrelated conversations collided over the pastel floral centerpiece like chocolate into peanut butter from a vintage 1980s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups television commercial. The two things that will one day go great together? Arirang K-pop, of course.

As evident from the Arirang Mass Games at Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium, nobody moves in unison like practiced North Koreans. If and when North Korea’s cultish communist system collapses, its citizens will initially be awed and maybe even a bit intimated by South Korea’s powerful popular culture. But for a people who have built so much of what little they have with their own bare hands in lieu of a functioning nation state, and have often had to scrounge for whatever food they can eat, I suspect they’ll quickly adjust and bounce back (especially young people).

I can foresee literally thousands of North Koreans, on tour around the world, all moving in perfect time to new thumping Hallyu beats. Public Enemy once said it takes a nation of millions, and that’s what North Korea’s well rehearsed future entertainment talent pool will have on its side.

In a unified Korea, Girls Generation won’t stand a chance. Move over GG, 2NE1 and Wonder Girls. Hamhung’s, Chongjin’s and Kaesong’s post-Stalinist trendsetters will have your number. When Korea is one, this wave will crest higher than any before it.

Sean King, senior vice president, Park Strategies, New York


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