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Moments with Mimi: K-Pop is becoming a worldwide phenomenon but at what cost?

Regardless if you've read my previous columns before or not, I'll make one thing clear: I really enjoy K-Pop. It started as mild intrigue and an almost secret interest. Nearly six years later, it has led to buying albums and merchandise and traveling out of state for concerts. To me, it's more than a music taste; it's a hobby and one that's not cheap either.

However, I don't think it's always been like that. With the rise of the internet and technology, different cultures and lifestyles are now accessible to our fingertips. K-Pop was previously not as prevalent, with a small number of people translating content such as lyrics, variety shows and social media posts. Now, entertainment companies have taken it upon themselves to have translations accessible on music videos, Youtube clips and even making songs in languages other than Korean.

As nice as it is to have easy access to content from groups that I like, it feels gimmicky at times. There is an increase in musical collaborations with Western music artists and breaking out into the global music scene has become prioritized over promotion in South Korea. There seems to be a cash-grab by companies desperate to enter the international market. 

For those unfamiliar, the K-Pop genre has entertainment companies that oversee anyone from groups to soloists to producers and even actors. People audition for these companies in hopes of getting accepted and becoming trainees. Training periods can last months, even years, and a debut isn't guaranteed. An example would be if your company debuted a new group and you didn't make the cut, there's a good chance it'll take another couple of years for them to debut another.

Because of how much hype a new debut causes, especially with how popular the genre is now, entertainment companies have been pushing group after group out since they know it'll bring in money. While that may sound great because more groups debuting means more people getting to live their dream, right? Not necessarily. Having more debuts loses the spark of a new group coming out; it's normalized and doesn't have as much of an impact.

There is also a theme of groups seemingly debuted for advertising rather than the music. Though they could be marketed as a K-Pop group and release music as usual, the company eventually shifts gears toward commercials, modeling and acting, etc. Once again, it's not necessarily bad that these idols are getting the chance to be active in the entertainment field, but it defeats the purpose of being a K-Pop group. Examples that I've personally noticed are: Red Velvet, Blackpink, any of the NCT units, Aespa, Itzy and EXO.

Although K-Pop has made my life better, I've grown old enough to find the flaws and faults that need improvement in the industry. I'm glad to see other people discovering the genre and the artists getting the attention they deserve, but it's disheartening to watch sales and money dictate the direction of it. Hopefully, the hype of things will begin to slow down, and K-Pop can be enjoyed without the unnecessary competition.

Mimi Calhoun is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Have something to say? Email Mimi at mc300120@ohio.edu or tweet her @mimi_calhoun.

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