Lessons from K-pop’s Global Success
K-pop’S GLobaL reach
On the heels of the successful launch of Korean TV dramas in foreign markets, K-pop began to make inroads in China, Japan and Thailand in the early 2000s. In recent years K-pop has expanded into Europe, the Middle East and the Americas in a second “Korean Wave.” K-pop’s current reigning girl group, “Girls’ Generation,” made their nationwide US debut with an appearance on “The Late Show with David Let60 | www.seriquarterly.com
terman” and “Live! With Kelly” this year. In addition to highly well-received international tours, K-pop has experienced explosive online popularity. Views for K-pop videos reached 2.3 billion on YouTube in 235 countries in 2011. K-pop’s stature now transcends economic terms; it has become a strategic asset with halo effects on Korea’s brand and its products. The economic effects of the second Korean Wave
are estimated at about ₩5 trillion as of 2010.1 The success of K-pop groups did not come overnight. Rather, the emergence of K-pop is the result of methodical planning and execution that offers lessons to any company setting its sights on the global market. This report analyzes K-pop’s success factors, and suggests ways
that Korean companies can leverage K-pop’s techniques for their own benefit.
K-pop’S SucceSS FactorS
This report adopted a four-pointed “cultural diamond” model2 to determine the four factors
1 Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange. 2 Griswold, W. (1994). Cultures and Societies in a Changing World. Pine forge Press.; Alexander, V. (2003). Sociology of the Arts: Exploring
Fine and Popular Forms. Blackwell.
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Lessons from K-pop’s Global Success
1 Number of Views of K-pop Videos on YouTube (2011)
Germany 20,114,996 Russia Kazakhstan Europe Mongolia Middle Asia China East India Africa Thailand 224,813,564 Malaysia 98,693,969 Singapore 68,546,360 Vietnam 177,358,800 Japan 423,683,759 Korea 155,325,204 Taiwan 189,027,731 Hong Kong 76,937,448 Philippines 74,251,012 Mexico 34,237,580 Peru 25,503,082 Chile 13,777,557 South America Brazil 21,090,241 North America Canada 46,477,940 US 240,748,112
UK 22,705,547 France 26,591,412 Saudi Arabia 42,719,685
Australia 27,132,121 Indonesia 81,128,637
100 mil.-500 mil. 10 mil.-100 mil. 1 mil.-10 mil. 100,000-1 mil. 10,000-100,000 Less than 10,000
Asia 1,662,650,415 North America 289,271,024 South America 119,078,862 Africa 9,630,772 Europe 173,862,484 Oceania 30,820,231
Others 1,340,903 Note: GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity per capita. Source: JoongAng Ilbo. “The number of views of K-POP videos on YouTube reached 2.3 billion in 235 countries last year.” (January 2, 2011).
that drove K-pop to new heights: preparation, delivery, consumers and content. In the preparation stage, K-pop’s major production companies lay the groundwork for moving |Figure
product overseas. The process is systematically designed, starting with selecting prospective stars, putting them through a rigorous training regime, producing shows and promoting globally. Training in particular is highly engineered,
2 K-pop’s “Diamond” Success Model
Delivery Preparation Active use of social networking services Consumers
Content Systematic preparation Singing and choreography styles T-savvy fan base
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3 Four Stages of Star Preparation
Preliminary Research Casting
Focus on finding talented aspirants
Nurture best candidates for years 5-10 Years of Training
Tap global sources of creative work
Use local partners’ networks
with aspirants undergoing five to seven years of instruction in singing and dancing. Even after this process, there is no guarantee of actually appearing on stage. Thus, only the best of the best ever reach the eyes and ears of the...
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