The Korea Herald


K-pop beloved, far under the radar

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Nov. 28, 2013 - 17:03

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Earlier this month, K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation beat out big names Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and even Korean YouTube sensation Psy to take the “Video of the Year” award at the first-ever YouTube Music Awards.

The initial reaction of the crowd gathered at the awards ceremony in New York can be summed up with one word: Huh?

Despite being one of the hottest groups in Korea and most of Asia, their name still does not ring a bell immediately in U.S. mainstream music. On YouTube, however, the group has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

“I Got A Boy,” the song that grabbed the top video honor for Girls’ Generation, has accumulated nearly 78 million views as of Thursday, along with well over 449,000 likes.

The nine-member group is not the only K-pop frontrunner that has enjoyed success on the video sharing website. Boy band Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby” garnered 89 million views in less than two years, and many still remember the worldwide impact of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” last year.

They are not quite global hot shots like Bieber, Lady Gaga and Cyrus, but individual fans’ reactions to K-pop certainly create a buzz.

What is called “reaction videos” -- where Internet users record their reactions on YouTube as they view certain videos -- for K-pop are sprouting up all over the Internet.

Although some may find it hard to understand why such reaction videos are made in the first place, K-pop reaction videos shed light on how Korean singers captivate a wider range of audiences.

“It’s great. It’s like a colorful chaos,” said one YouTube user in a video made by online producers Fine Brothers after watching the music video for “Fantastic Baby.” Another user said bright colors, dancing, chaos and key English lines in the video combine to make up K-pop.

The K-pop music videos have plenty of attractive features beside their catchy tunes. The singers’ fashion, abundant use of color or exaggerated gestures are only some of the eye-catching characteristics.

Some people find their music videos downright odd. As one person put it, “This is the most confusing thing I’ve watched in the past 48 hours.”

K-pop videos are gaining greater popularity on the strength of such peculiar features.

After all, “Gangnam Style” -- the most beloved K-pop video ever and by far the most viewed YouTube video in history -- is all the more popular due to its eccentric nature.

This reaction from a U.S. man who watched Shinee’s music video may best explain the unexpected surge of K-pop videos on the YouTube: “Ridiculous …But I like it.”

By Yoon Min-sik