Korean Wave and K-Pop: The History of the Genre and Features of Subculture

Korean Wave and K-Pop

Korean pop music continues to capture the world’s top charts. Idols have millions of followers on Instagram, and their clips gain billions of views on YouTube.

Not every world star can boast of such popularity. Music is a great way to relax, but if you want to not only relax but also have fun, then you can visit Bet22.

Seoul has become the capital of fashion, and on the streets, you can increasingly meet foreigners for whom South Korea has become a second home. Let’s figure out together what is the secret of the popularity of the K-pop phenomenon.

How It All Started

The formation of the Hallyu (Korean wave) is closely connected not only with music but also with the history of the country.

After a devastating civil war with its neighbor, South Korea began to quickly get out of the crisis and gradually turned into an Asian country with democracy and a good economy.

The Americans made a huge contribution to the development of Korea, but such assistance could not pass without consequences. The US has imposed its own culture, values, and mentality.

Because of this, there is a conflict within society — some want to be progressive, speak Konglish (a mixture of English and Korean), buy only Western brands, and have double eyelid surgery, while others do not keep up with the changes, they honor Korean traditions and oppose American intervention.

K-pop is one of the Western trends. But any adaptation changes. So it happened with pop music: the Koreans decided to make the product better and better. And they did not lose.

Their music was liked not only by domestic but also by foreign listeners. Everything has reached such a scale that people are ready to spend their last money to get to the concert of their favorite band.

In special cases, people even try to migrate to Korea, just to be closer to their idol.


In the 1990s, the first changes began in Korean society, in particular, in the music industry. Groups began to appear that broke stereotypes and introduced the public to new genres of music.

Solid is a South Korean R&B and hip-hop trio. The first album was not a success, because the audience was not ready for the American sound, and Koreans, in general, were not familiar with the hip-hop culture of African Americans.

Then the artists took a different approach and released songs with a Korean melody that was mixed with a Western beat. Such music was to the taste of the Korean audience.

Seo Taiji and Boys are also considered the founders of K-pop. The band has brought a new, fresh take on music. They became famous for performing on the same show.

But the judges gave them a rather low score because the music and dance moves were unusual for the Korean audience. It was a new genre — rap.

However, radio stations began to constantly put their song “I Know” on the air, and they became famous in just a weekend. The style of clothing, music, behavior — everything stood out.

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This was exactly what the youth wanted at that time: they talked in their tracks about important issues that were familiar to young people. The albums were a real find, as they combined songs of different genres (rock, rap, ballads, pop, etc.). Their formula for success is used to this day.

A little later, in 1996, the concept of “idol” was formed. H.O.T. is the first such group. Yes, the K-pop subculture has several terms that every fan should know. The English word “idol” means an idol, an ideal, a deity or, simply put, your idol. You need to fit into a certain framework to become one.

For example, in South Korea, thinness, cute appearance (if something is wrong, you can fix it with plastic surgery), white skin, and manners are appreciated. You should treat the fans with trepidation as if they are your soulmate.

Groups usually consist of four or more people, and everyone has different responsibilities — the leader (the most important in the group), make (the youngest member), main vocals, rap, visual (the most beautiful member), the main dancer, etc.

Fandoms also have their name, for example, fans of the BTS group are called Army, NCT — NCTzen, BLACKPINK — BLINK, etc.

Our Days

In the modern world, you will find a K-pop band for every taste. There are a huge number of music companies, but the “Big Three” are still on the list of leaders — YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment.

They arrange auditions all over the world, so not only Koreans have a chance to become an idol. But because of this, competition increases.

It’s not enough just to sing and dance well: you need to look perfect, and have an excellent reputation (otherwise in the future fans can dig up all your secrets).

Knowledge of foreign languages, in particular English and Chinese, is a huge plus, and be prepared to part with your personal life, bad habits (at least for the public), etc. Companies have become a real conveyor for the production of bands that debut almost every week.