K-pop (an abbreviation of Korean pop; Korean: 가요 kayo) refers to a musical genre which originates from South Korea and is characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. Although the term incorporates all forms of Korean popular music such as trot and folk music, it is more commonly used to refer to songs produced by idol groups.
In 1992, modern K-pop was ushered in with the formation of Seo Taiji & Boys, whose successful experimentation with different music styles had sparked a paradigm shift in the music industry of South Korea. Since then, the integration of foreign musical elements in song production has become a common practice in the K-pop industry.
By tapping into social networking services and the video sharing platform YouTube, the K-pop industry's ability to secure a sizeable overseas audience has facilitated a noticeable rise in the global proliferation of the genre. Since the mid-2000s, the K-pop music market has experienced double digit growth rates. In the first half of 2012, it grossed nearly US$3.4 billion, and was recognized by Time magazine as "South Korea's Greatest Export".
First gaining popularity in East Asia back in the late 1990s, K-pop entered the Japanese music market towards the turn of the 21st century. In the late 2000s, it grew from a musical genre into a subculture among teenagers and young adults of East and Southeast Asia. Currently, the spread of K-pop to other regions of the world, via the Korean wave, is most clearly seen in parts of Latin America, Northeast India, the Middle East, North Africa, and immigrant enclaves of the Western world.
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