A host of young Korean stars are taking to the stage in London, New York and beyond in a bid to crack one of the final global frontiers for Asian culture — pop music.
“K-pop,” as Korean pop is called, has made major inroads into Japan, the world’s second largest music market.
But breaking into key countries further afield like Britain, Germany, France and, most crucially, the United States, has so far eluded acts who may be household names at home but remain virtual unknowns outside Asia.
Korean bands are not the only ones trying to be the next Britney Spears, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber.
Japanese artists, some of them “J-pop” superstars, have also looked overseas for new audiences, although the size of their own market, only just behind the United States in the world rankings, means they have less incentive.
And K-pop acts, often created and nurtured by savvy record companies like S.M. Entertainment, are being groomed for specific markets — learning Japanese, for example, and fitting in with Japan’s musical mores.
One recent success story has been the nine-member South Korean girl band Girls’ Generation, whose first full-length Japanese album sold over 500,000 copies in Japan.
Girls’ Generation hit song “Into the New World”