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The Globalization of K-pop: Korea‘s 1 Place in the Global Music Industry

Ingyu Oh


K-Pop is a new buzz word in the global music industry. Korean pop singers such as TVQX, SNSD, Wonder Girls, and Psy currently attract unprecedented followers in Asia, Europe, and North America. The dominant explanation behind this unique cultural phenomenon rests on the concept of cultural hybridity or Pop Asianism (i.e., continuation and expansion of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian subcultures in the global cultural market). I argue that the globalization of K-Pop involves a much more complicated process of globalizing- localizing-globalizing musical content that originates from Europe than what hybridity or Pop Asianism arguments suggest. Specifically, the rise of K-Pop in the global music industry involves a new technique of locating new musical content in Europe or elsewhere, modifying it into Korean content, and then redistributing it on a global scale. Furthermore, K-Pop represents an effort to network global talent pools and social capital in the formerly disconnected music industry rather than an effort to emulate and slightly modify Japanese pop culture. As such, within the global music industry, Korea occupies a structural hole that exists between Western and East Asian music industries.


K-Pop; Music Industry; Globalization; Structural Hole

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