In the early 2000s, Kpop singers alike have tried to expand their influences past Asia and into the United States with no success. BoA, a female singer, was trained to appeal to not only Asian markets but American markets as well. Her image was created on the skeleton of the Dragon Lady image and the China Doll image, two images that Asian women are usually associated with. Instead of defying stereotypes created for Asian women, BoA emphasized on them, in hopes of appealing to the American markets. Despite her efforts, BoA was not successful in appealing to the US markets which, according to critics, was due to her Asian physical traits.
Kpop has been able to expand their influences due to technological advances since the late 2000s. Allkpop, a Korean celebrity news/gossip website, was created in 2007 and has since hit almost eight million readers per month. Allkpop has successfully provided news that a global audience would not have been able to reach a few decades ago, which in turn has also brought more attention to the Kpop industry itself.
Kpop artists themselves have also changed, in terms of fashion, music, and methods of appeal since BoA and Rain in the early 2000s. One of the most popular Kpop artists now is a South Korean boy band called Big Bang. Big Bang first made their debut in 2007 where they released songs that did not attract a larger audience until their single “Lies”. Since then, Big Bang was a huge hit that attracted fans from all over the world. Their most recently released video, “Loser” got a million views within hours and currently has ten million views on Youtube.
Kpop has changed in terms of fashion especially in Big Bang. Not only do they experience extravagant wardrobe changes, they also go through many hairstyle changes as they proceed with their album promotions. G-Dragon, their leader, has become a fashion icon due to his more extravagant hairstyles and fearless fashion choices. He has been reached out by a number of fashion designers especially in Europe and has attended a few fashion shows that garnered much attention from non Kpop listeners. G-Dragon was able to expand his influence to a greater audience through his fashion interest which is also a reason why Big Bang has been able to influence a greater global audience than most Kpop artists.
In terms of music, Kpop itself has also changed. Since the early 2000s, Kpop has attempted to integrate both Asian and Western cultures not only by combining Korean music with different genres of music, but also by working with different American producers. Currently, Big Bang works with Teddy Park, an American raised producer who is able to incorporate English into Big Bang’s tracks while providing input on the type of music that Big Bang should produce for their audiences. In the past few years, Big Bang has been able to produce music that represented an unique mix of Western and Korean music with a hip hop/electric feel. As a result, they have attracted millions of fans from different nationalities and cultures.
Finally, as our world advances, so does the technology. Kpop artists have currently began to use social media to outreach to more fans across the world. By joining social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, and Weibo, Kpop artists have gained more attention. For example, each member of Big Bang has more than one million followers on their Instagram accounts and by just viewing the comments on their Instagram posts, one can see how diverse Big Bang’s fan club can be. Kpop artists have also began to use Youtube as their video platform where they not only upload their music videos, but also live performances and teasers of their upcoming music. By constantly updating social media, Kpop artists such as Big Bang not only gain more listeners, but keep their fans’ interests.
As a result, Big Bang has been a huge success throughout the world. The real question is, will the rest of the Kpop industry who have been inspired and attempted to imitate Big Bang succeed like they have? Every year, around 60 Kpop boy and girl singers/groups debut and not every one of them were able to make a long lasting impact on the world like Big Bang has. This is not only due to the same images they all produce (boys as imitations of Big Bang or girls as imitations of the cute China Doll/sexy Dragon Lady images), but also because of the similar music that they all produce. In order to make a long lasting impact and break through global markets, Kpop must keep in mind to be individualistic while appealing to different audiences. By integrating different cultures together while maintaining their Korean culture, it is then that Kpop artists will be able to expand their audiences through social media and defy the Asian stereotypical images that have been surrounding them since the early 1900s. By becoming another huge Asian influence in the global markets, Kpop not only encourages Asian Americans in the United States to pursue their dreams instead of being restricted to the stereotypical careers given to them, Kpop also stands as an inspiration to other Asian Americans to become a stronger presence in the American society.