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To K-Pop or Not To K-Pop

By Liam Bouza

Photo Credit to Kpopmap

Throughout the last few years, K-pop, which stands for Korean Popular Music, has become more and more prevalent throughout the U.S. Various K-pop groups, like BTS and Twice, have come over to do tours and perform.


BTS is one of the biggest grossing K-pop group that began in 2013. They have been making more appearances in Western television, ranking #1 in the Billboard Top 100 with a few of their songs like “Dynamite,” “Butter,” “Butter (ft. Megan Thee Stallion),” “My Universe,” “Permission to Dance,” and “Life Goes On.” Both “Butter” and “Dynamite” had been #1 for more than two weeks.

Photo Credit to StyleCaster

Sadly, that does not mean everybody who lives in America is expanding their music taste and adding a K-pop song to their playlists.


However, K-pop is not simply a genre of music; it is part of South Korean culture.


Though most of the West understand K-pop to be the “Korean version of pop music.” Groups and artists like BTS, IU, Enhypen, Blackpink, Twice, Stray Kids, Seventeen, Kep1er, and others find themselves to be the embodiment of what K-pop is. Idols, the artists who work within the music industry in South Korea, are considered to be the ones that further the K-pop culture.

Graphic Credit to Dyck Dorlean

The Buccaneer did a poll asking students whether they listen to K-pop. As a result, 55.6 percent of Barry students answered they do not listen to K-pop. On the bright side, 44.4 percent said they do.


Walter MacWaters, senior philosophy and political science major, was one of those students who said they did not listen to K-pop.


“It appears like the things I don’t like about them can be explained by cultural differences,” he said.


This might be the case for a lot of people but the biggest factor that seems to get in MacWaters’ way is the fact that he doesn’t speak Korean.


“I can’t understand what they are saying,” he said.


The language barrier is just one issue that fuels disinterest in K-pop. The main cultural differences for people like MacWaters lie in the difference between beauty standards and the definition of good music in Asian culture versus Western culture.


Sara Kurz, a freshman art history major, said even though the genre is beginning to become more and more accepted, it is still not enough. "You don’t really see groups like Twice much,” said Kurz, in reference to how much publicity other K-pop groups get versus BTS. Nonetheless, “BTS is my favorite K-pop group.”

Photo Credit to South China Morning Post

All the same, the leader of BTS, Kim Namjoon, has been open and vocal about how some K-pop artists, like him, wish to be considered artists and not K-pop artists exclusively.


BTS performed their song “Butter” live at this year's Grammy awards show but the group failed to snag the award in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category.


Even though various K-pop artists have been making a lot of strides into attempting to fit into Westernized standards, it seems to be not enough for now. There’s a long road ahead for K-pop to be fully integrated into American culture.