KPop or K-Pop is short for “Korean Pop”. It can refer to the whole of popular music in Korea, but is often used in a narrower sense to describe the genre that has dominated the Korean music market for about the last 20 years. This genre incorporates elements of western pop, dance, electronic, R&B and Hip Hop – but after years of experience music makers & producers in South Korea know how to “home-make” successful hits with a distinctive sound different from it’s formerly western roots.
Mini History Guide
Like many South-Asian countries the area of today’s South Korea underwent a series of foreign influences that led to the development of it’s very own popular music market. During Japanese occupation (1910-1945) local and foreign composers created a mix of traditional Korean music and Gospel, that is popular until today and known as “Trot”.
The end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule marked the arrival of Westernization – taking place in a lot of areas of South Korean life, also leading to a change in the sound of the Trot genre. Western music began to be aired on radio and Western-style clubs popped up in various locations to cater to the American soldiers still stationed in South Korea. Not only did many Korean musicians let themselves be influenced by the jazz, blues, country and rock & roll sound of the West, but the Korean public, too, took an interest in them.
South Korea’s own music industry started blooming in the 60s alongside the economy and produced it’s very first own big names, labels and talent contests. The 70s marked a time of Hippie folk pop, as well as the arrival of DJ culture, followed by the 80s as the “era of ballads”.
What we know today as “KPop” first emerged more distinctively in the 1990s. Newer music groups produced up-beat, catchy songs with lyrics that dealt with the everyday problems of Korean society, paving the way for the modern sound of KPop. The mid- and late 90s saw the founding of major music labels who dominate the market today and underground music movements of hip hop and rock first managing to gain main stream success.
21st century: Beginning of the Hallyu Wave
The beginning of the 21st century marked the beginning of the global Korean wave. Not everyone knows it’s going on, but taken from the fact you are reading this article to an extent you have seen changes around you (or at least online). Korean industry managers & music producers did not sit down together and started to plot world dominance (or have they?), but the last 15 years have seen an increased global interest in Korean culture, especially entertainment goods such as Korean TV dramas and Korean Pop music.
Today South Korea has a lively Indie Rock, Hip Hop & Dance-Pop scene. But other countries have colorful music scenes, too. Then what’s so special about KPop, that it has risen to international fame? Read all about it in the 2nd part of this 10 Step Guide:
Not so interested in Step 2? Maybe you want to skip ahead and read:
- What does KPop sound like? What types of songs are there? Coming…
- Step 3: Who is KPop? Who are these stars KPop fans are so crazy for?
- Step 5: Who likes KPop? What is this fandom like and who is in it? Coming…
- KPop Through the Ages – A more detailed KPop History Tour (this article is still incomplete and only has images, sorry)
Have you found a mistake in this article? Feel free to correct us – but be aware that we have not deliberately left out vital information, but have tried to keep this article short and simple as an easy introduction for newbies to KPop. We are also not acclaimed experts in the field of music research and have taken our information from articles of other blogs, internet websites, as well as the best of our memory and our very own reason.
The words and most of the phrasing in this mini-article has been formulated by one of our authors, but feel free to use any information or wording found here for your own blog (or presentation). We’d appreciate it if you state this website as source, but it is not legally required.