Before moving to South Korea to Teach English, the only K-pop I knew of was Psy and his HUGE hit, "Gangnam Style". I had no idea just how big this genre of music was until moving here. Now that I'm here almost a year I can tell you that Korean pop, or K-POP is a huge part of the culture, at least for the younger generation. In fact, Korean music in general has such a big impact on the people here, or at the very least, the students I teach. The other English teachers like it too (It's kind of a guilty pleasure!)
Whether you're on a night out in South Korea, or simply in a department store - you are sure to hear one k-pop song or another. At present there are many, many k-pop artists, some of the most well know, however, are G-Dragon, EX0 (which my students LOVE), Sister, Shinee and Girls generation to name a few. When I moved to South Korea, the first song I heard on reply (it seemed like) was G-Dragon, who is HUGE over here in Korea, he is in everything from Cell phone to beer adverts he is best known as a solo Artists, but he is also a member of a boy band called Big Bang:
(This is G-Dragons' most popular song, not too bad)
All of my students love him, even some of the Korean staff at my school do. They say his fashion is amazing (South Koreans love their fashion). It seems like almost every week he has a new hair style. Since I've been here he has gone from black to red to green to yellow to black and back to yellow again! I lose count of how many times my students ask me to play his songs in class. When we have parties though, one band they are sure to ask about is EXO. This boy band is HUGE here in South Korea, there are twelve members to this band, six Korean and six Chinese and almost all of the children I teach, either have EXO lunch boxes, pencils or rulers with pictures or their names on them:
(This is one of EXO's most popular songs here in Korea)
Even though K-pop is its own genre, there are huge difference between artists, one of the most unique artists is a girls group called Crayon Pop, who became famous here for wearing motorbike helmets and capes while performing their hit song "BAR BAR BAR", which during the summer was on constant reply in every department store & bar. Not only that, but EVERYBODY was jumping:
(My students know this song very well: before a test they usually say "get set Ready GO")
Crayon Pope even wore those Helmets to the Melon Music awards. These awards are the Asian version of the Grammys, or the MTV music awards. This year, Shinee was the big winner winning best Act in Korea, an award they found almost too overwhelming to accept, crying for the duration of their acceptance speech - I have to admit, I did find that kind of funny:
(Shinees' big hit was called "Everybody", check it out on youtube)
One thing that all Korean k-pop artists have in common is that they are all good dancers, in fact, many groups are known more for their dancing, rather than their singing. Dancing is also big here in South Korea, from hip-hop to k-pop, and during the summer months, you will see no shortage of street dancers and performers. There are Competitions and dance festivals everywhere. And it is clear that the k-pop artists, like G-dragon, shinee and EXO have influenced the dancing style here.
Girl Groups are also big here, with Sister & Girls Generations being among the most popular:
One of the singers from Sister, Hyorin also has a solo career and two months ago she performed at a ChungDahm 3.0 conference to launch the new Tablet classes. It made the 6am KTX on a Saturday morning almost worth it.
Whether you love it, or hate it. Korean POP is a huge part of the culture here in South Korea. It impacts everything, from fashion to TV shows. If you come to South Korea to teach, you will hear k-pop everywhere, from shopping to working out at the gym and even in the classroom (from the students who sing!) It really is everywhere. The good news is that it's not all bad, and I have to admit, Crayon Pops' "Bar Bar Bar" gave us all a great laugh during the summer here in South Korea. It was as big, if not bigger than the Macarena.
John May grew up in Dublin, Ireland where he is from & went to Trinity College – one of Irelands best known universities. He graduated from here in November 2012 with a B.A. (Mod) in Geography & Sociology. John has always had a passion for travelling and having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He has always wanted to teach and thought what better way to travel than teaching English on the way. John is currently teaching English for CDI in Daegu, South Korea a position he found through Aclipse; John felt nervous before his departure, but now that he is in Korea he loves every minute of it. For more information follow his blog.