Edited by: Arnav Diwan
Did you cry over BTS losing the Grammys and join the Scrammy’s movement? Or did you forget about your studies and spend the entire day binge watching Crash Landing onto You, just to see our two lovebirds, Ri Jung Hyuk and Yoon Se-ri, make it through together? Or is Vincenzo or any other beautiful K-drama keeping you up all night? Well, welcome to the trap of the Korean Wave or Hallyu!
Korean culture has taken the world by storm. People of all ages are completely in love with Korean drama, music (commonly known as K-pop), food and even the people! Having been recently acquainted with it, I have been engulfed in this trap and cannot seem to find my way out, but honestly, I don’t want to! I cannot go anywhere without bumping into an ARMY (the name for BTS’s fanbase), and once spotted, the conversations can become endless. What is it about this culture that has attracted so many people, leading it to become ubiquitous? Of course, one can attribute it to the eye-catching attractiveness of actors and actresses, with their amazing skin and good looks. There is also something about the way Koreans dress up that looks straight out of a magazine spread or a runway show. They have good taste in fashion, no doubt! Both men and women carry outfits very well. However, there has to be something more. Fans say Korean dramas are better than Indian soaps because the scripts are well-written, and every aspect of modern life, from romance and office politics to family dramas, makes an appearance. The Korean culture is also portrayed confidently, making fans more curious and intrigued by the cuisine, language and people. The script is such that the viewer gets involved with the lives of the protagonists, transporting them away from their own lives for a change. It’s simple and elegant, more about young love, with a stress of relationship building and bonding. There is also a good sense of comedy and that’s why their rom-com series are always a hit. It’s about mastering the overall package—the perfect timing, facial expressions, lines , gestures, animated manner of delivery, plus the right mixture of romance and comedy. K-Dramas have taken this formula to heart. During the pandemic, with more time to kill, the followers of K-drama increased drastically, with people finding it light, fun and romantic, transporting them away from the stress of current times. They are easy to absorb, given that an average episode is short and sweet, with not more than one season with 16-22 episodes max, of 20-30 minutes each.
While not all songs on K-dramas are considered K-pop, the latter has a significant role in this industry. On its own , K-pop has seen itself in the Grammys, the Kids Choice Awards, the Billboard Top 100 etc., which are areas normally dominated by Western singers. The main leader in all this is the group BTS (Bangtan Boys), a group of 7 boys who are known for their sweet voices, looks, their dance moves and their personality. Since their debut in 2007, there has been no stopping them, and today they have become the first K-pop group to be ever nominated for the Grammy. While today they can reap the rewards of their hard work, they of course have had to face many hurdles to gain the traction they have today. So did the many other K-pop groups such as BlackPink, EXO and more, that are on the similar path to success. Intensive training has made these young artists seasoned performers by the time they debut. They are usually groomed and mentored by managers or agents for years at a time before recording their first song.
What is it about their music and music video that has picked up so much momentum? The main reason of course is the creative melodies and amazing dance choreography. Groups sing and dance, performing routines that are very complicated and challenging. Not only does this take an insane amount of hard work, practice, and skill, but K-pop artists are well-known for performing these routines live – proving they are truly skilled, not just well edited in their music videos. Of course, adding to the aesthetics is the creative use of costumes and colour in music videos. Use of effects, make up, outfits, and everything else, are always in service to a greater theme and vision. Almost everything in the music video is meaningful. It adds to the story and message that the singer is trying to convey. For example, with BTS’s song idol, they wanted to push back on those calling them too westernized. To show who they truly were, almost all of the music video was connected to an aspect of Korea, starting from their costumes, all the way to their use of the national animal. They wore Hanbok, which is the traditional costume of Korea. Korean singers are also well-known for their unique, extravagant, and eye-popping personalities. K Pop stars, or “idols” as they are usually known in Asia, have a knack for truly standing out from the crowd and taking self-expression to a new level.
When you take all this into account, there is no doubt Korea is going to lead the entertainment world soon. Indeed, these stars will be on the walls of the hall of fame for a long time, proving the world around that hard work and dedication (and talent of course) does pay off!