K-pop in Korea: How the Pop Music Industry is Changing a Post-Developmental Society

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review. 2013;(9):105-124


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review

ISSN: 2158-9666 (Print); 2158-9674 (Online)

Publisher: University of Hawaii Press

Society/Institution: Research Institute of Korean Studies (Korea University) and Institute of East Asian Studies (UC Berkeley)

LCC Subject Category: History (General) and history of Europe: History of Asia

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Ingyu Oh (Korea University)
Hyo-Jung Lee (Yonsei University)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Korean popular songs, or kayo, are evolving from a musical genre created and performed only by Koreans into K-pop, a global musical genre produced and enjoyed by Koreans and those of other nationalities. This new development has revolutionized the perception of the popular music industry in Korea’s post-developmental society, as Korean children dream of becoming K-pop idols rather than entering traditionally esteemed careers in politics, medicine, or academia. The Korean government is also actively promoting Hallyu and K-pop, as though they constitute new export industries that could feed the entire nation in the twenty-first century. While the K-pop revolution has a lot to do with YouTube and other digital means of distributing music on a global scale, Korean television stations are now eager to tap into the booming market by showcasing live K-pop auditions in order to circumvent declining television loyalty among K-pop fans, who prefer watching music videos on YouTube. K-pop in Korea therefore illustrates three important aspects of social change: changes in social perceptions of the popular music industry, massive government support, and television stations actively recruiting new K-pop stars. All three aspects of social change reinforce one another and fuel the aspirations of young Koreans to become the next K-pop idols.