K-pop, or Korean pop, is a genre of pop music emanating from South Korea. It is impacted by styles and genres from around the globe, such as classical, folk, reggae, jazz, rock, R&B, hip hop, and gospel among other forms. (Kim and Jaffe 71) Various bands receive global attention because of their significant contribution and attractive songs in K-pop. One of these is the Korean boy band, BTS. The band is one of the leading singers in K-pop with the pop sensation taking the first position for two albums in the Billboard Top 200. The group became more famous when it beat Justin Bieber to win the much coveted Top Social Artist of 2018. Vanham thinks that BTS is the most praised and talked about artists in the whole world. Time (2020) refers to BTS as the biggest K-pop group on the charts. The group does an amazing job in the way they consistently release multiple albums, in the way they break every kind of record (Bruner). In addition, BTS moved to the topmost position of pop stardom yet they achieved all this satisfying results in a year marred with many challenges, with the major one being the COVID 19 pandemic (Bruner). It is possible today to experience a form of hybridization in K-pop, especially by looking at how BTS conduct their operations. Even though BTS displays some form of Americanization in the way they conduct themselves, it is only correct to argue that members of the band are neither subject to American domination nor do they depict a suppression of local Korean music and traditions, but instead it represents a creative advancement free of any form of domination or suppression.
It is apparent that the spectrum of cultural globalization since the end of World War II to the 2000s points in only one side; that of the American culture and English language. Vanham describes how whereas many countries in Europe were still impacted by the French culture until the late 1960s, the tide had started to change from the mid-1940s. For example, American Gls had gone to Europe to fight, but also brought with them Coca-Cola, a love for Hollywood films, and increased admiration to jazz music. On other continents as well, the escalating political and economic powers of American culture changed into an escalating cultural impact. Vanham describes how as many European and Asian societies paid much emphasis to rebuilding, the American culture took over the world. The American culture became increasingly influential that popular bands such as Rolling Stones and The Beatles could keep with the fast-changing pace of the music scene. It is evident that today the American culture is more dominant. Film-wise, American productions continue to have a significant impact on the audience, especially productions from Hollywood. Vanham informs how some of the best-selling productions of all time are largely American, although Pink Floyd, a British band and AC/DC from Australia gained much fame while maintaining their local cultural practices and style. In addition, most internet and social media firms identify with the American culture. Besides, culture and food, though increasingly diverse, are still impacted by major American corporations such as PepsiCos, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds. The transformation would not happen without the effect of the broader globalization of the global economy, and the immense influence of technology.
BTS also depict some features associated with the American culture from an analytical point of view, but their development could be termed as one that is free of domination. The group appears to believe on the significance of acting in the right way even if it goes against the traditions of the Korean culture. Vanham writes that contrary to most of the musicians, BTS has built an antiestablishment approach, both in their activism practices and in the way they added to the their music production, which was at the beginning not common in K-pop culture. The way of dressing for the team members defy the common practices, and the perception the band has towards many things defy the directives of the Korean culture. For example, Bruner describes how BTS in their 2013 hit single “No More Dream” criticize the social pressures in the Korean culture like the tough regulations placed on school-going children. The group speaks openly about the importance of protecting the rights of the LGBTQ people, a practice that is not welcomed in Korean culture. One major factor that shows BTS is not subject to the effects of Americanization is they sing all their songs in the Korean language as much as they try to mention some English word. Singing in the Korean language while speaking against aspects that they think are inappropriate is enough evidence that the band is not subject to the effects of cultural imperialism, which Liebes and Katz (4) describe as the imposition by an economically or politically dominant group or community of various features of its own culture onto other less superior group. Therefore, BTS is an example of a K-pop band that displays hybridization, but also depict a sense of creative formation of domination.
Bruner, Raisa. “Time Entertainer of the Year.” Time, 2020. https://time.com/entertainer-of-the-
Kim, Oak and Jaffe Sam. The New Korea: An Insider Look at South Korea’s Economic Rise.
Liebes, Tamar and Katz Elihu. The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas.
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Vanham, Peter. “Here’s What a Korean Boy Band Can Teach us about Globalization 4.0.” World
Economic Forum, 18 December, 2018. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/here-s-