The K-Pop Invasion

Manhattan, New York
United States

Americans don’t realize this, but Hallyu (South Korean culture) had always been seeping into the U.S since 2009 when Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and the Wonder Girls’ song “Nobody” was released taking over the Billboard charts. Their unique style, catchy tunes, and intricate dances caught the attention of many Americans surfing Youtube and they became a hit. This small break ended up cracking open the door for other Korean artists such as PSY, BTS, Twice, and BlackPink to take the U.S by storm years later. Despite being very popular during their debut, the Korean girl groups’ fame in America was brief and was soon forgotten.

K-pop didn’t start making a reappearance until PSY’s “Gangnam Style” hit the scene in 2012 blowing up the internet. PSY’s explosive aesthetic and comedic song influenced a wildfire of memes, dance challenges, and vines becoming the most viral video to hit the world at the time. Everyone knew the Korean artist and craved more making people unexpectedly fall into the now famous world of K-pop. This revelation was the seed that brought the highly anticipated Kcon to life.

Kcon is an annual convention that takes place in cities such as New York and Los Angeles where international Hallyu lovers could gather and enjoy fangirling over Korean dramas, music, fashion, food, and movies in peace. Fandoms could interact with their favorite idols (music artists) and actors though panels while participating in fun workshops and booths that embody the Hallyu culture. This event helped expand K-pop at a more rapid rate converting almost every American that it came in contact with and as a result, became a phenomenon that ended with a massive concert that drove “Koreaboos” (fanatic Korean fans) crazy.

In response fandoms such as A.R.M.Ys (BTS fandom), ONCEs (Twice fandom), and BLINKs (BlackPink fandom) were able to increase along with the Hallyu culture. This brought K-pop into America’s mainstream because of each fandom’s dedication to their idols. Fans began nominating their favorite idols for American awards, invited them to special events, and performed on popular media outlets. A prime example of this would be BTS. Because of how they integrated western (American) music with traditional K-pop their music resonated with young Americans despite the language barrier. That along with their beautiful visuals, charismatics personalities, and powerful choreography had Americans nominating and voting for them during the 2017 and 2018 Billboard Awards beating Justin Bieber who had always won previously. As a result of this achievement, BTS became the biggest K-pop group to enter America officially bringing the art of K-pop out of the shadows and into the spotlight influencing other Korean artists to do the same; expediting the K-pop invasion in America further into what it is today.