K-Pop K-POP TALK Pop Culture

Why is BTS so popular? How K-pop spread around the globe? What does it take to be a K-pop idol?

CONTIUED FROM What is HALLYU 한류 the “Korean Wave”? The Hallyu / K-pop timeline, what makes K-pop popular?


While some critics hold negative views about the sustainability of the Korean Wave for it being too heavily skewed towards K-Pop and K-Dramas, no one can deny that they played the most important role in sparking an interest in Korea. And the efforts are coming to fruition – the Korean Wave is gradually expanding its presence in various areas such as fashion, cosmetics, food, tourism, martial arts, movies, literature, and education, making the spectrum of the Korean Wave wider and diverse. Experts say that K-Beauty and K-Webtoon (digital comics) are emerging as the golden boy of the next generation of New Hallyu, and it would be interesting to see what the New Hallyu Wave will evolve into.


1) Addicting Melodies
2) Amazing Choreography That Is Perfectly Executed In Sync
3) Trendy Fashion And Make-Up
4) Stellar/Appealing/Eye-Catching Music Videos With In-depth Storylines
5) Multi-talented Idols Who Can Appeal To Diverse Audiences


Trainee” yeonseupsaeng 연습생 literally means an aspiring K-Pop singer who enters into a contract with an entertainment agency and goes through a rigorous professional training course (vocal, dance, language, and so many others) with a dream to become a K-Pop idol star one day.

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Most of them start in their teenage years and the training period can last as many as 7~8 years, but it’s not a guarantee as the entertainment companies have the right to release them if they believe their trainees don’t have what it takes to become a K-Pop star. However, being a K-Pop idol is not a job for everyone, and it’s ultimately a professional agency’s job to determine whether the gemstone is a diamond in the rough or not, and it’s also their role to process it into a sparkling diamond. But if they can make it, they have a great shot at wealth and fame. For this reason, many teenagers pick K-Pop idol as their dream job. But what happens when everyone wants the same job? Becoming a professional idol singer, let alone becoming a trainee, is as difficult as getting into an Ivy League school.

How To Become A K-Pop Idol: Life As A Foreign Trainee


In the past, the Korean Wave began with the export of dramas and movies that have already proven popular in Korea. The “New Korean Wave,” led by mostly K-Pop and K-Drama, however, is spread and consumed in real-time around the world.This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for social media channels, including YouTube and Facebook, which have emerged as a key means of spreading the Korean Wave around the world.

Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is the best example of such a phenomenon.In the domestic music industry in 2010, pre-releasing music videos on YouTube prior to the official release of the album became a norm. 2NE1 released their first full-length album in September 2010, and pre-released music videos of three title tracks on YouTube. In just two weeks, they garnered more than 10 million views from fans around the world.


There is another interesting example of this phenomenon: the change in the meaning of the word “World Star” used by Korean fans.In the aforementioned era of first-generation Hallyu, Hallyu‘s popularity was limited to Asia thanks to the geographical proximity and cultural similarities. Therefore, the word “World Star” used during this time is more appropriate to be read as “Asia Star.”But the word “World Star” gets a new meaning, and the timing exactly coincides with the emergence of new media.

Digital technology has helped overcome geographical limitations, enabling the Korean “soft power” to reach a wide consumer base around the world that had previously been out of reach. Now, Korea’s hot issue has become a global hot issue – evidenced by the fact that Korean dramas and K-Pop lyrics and celebrity gossip are voluntarily translated into their own languages and shared in real-time by fans around the world. It is no exaggeration to say that the whole world has become an era of the “Korean Wave Sphere.” As a result, the word “World Star” has now finally become true to its name – a Korean star loved by people all over the world.


“Unlike many other Korean artists, BTS heavily relied on using YouTube and Twitter to promote themselves online, from their humble beginnings to today’s success. This method contradicted the norms of the industry since K-pop idols typically use Korean news channels and TV shows to make a name for themselves.”

(“BTS Is A Social Media Success Story” Jade Hookahm, UC San Diego via Studybreaks ) 

A prime example of this revolutionary change is BTS (Bulletproof Boy Scouts/Beyond the Scene) 방탄소년단, which has a gigantic global fandom called A.R.M.Y (Adorable Representative MC for Youth) and has become the epitome of K-Pop. But many people wonder what makes BTS so different from other K-Pop groups and how they became a global phenomenon. Handsome face? A synchronized choreography? This is actually true for other K-Pop groups. Then what? As Hookham said, BTS has also been officially selected as the most-mentioned artist on Twitter and scores an overwhelmingly higher active engagement index than other celebrities. 

BTS has also been officially selected as the most-mentioned artist on Twitter and scores an overwhelmingly higher active engagement index than other celebrities.
BTS has also been officially selected as the most-mentioned artist on Twitter and scores an overwhelmingly higher active engagement index than other celebrities.

This also means a change in the production and consumption of pop culture. Previously, it was an unilateral process where pop culture was created by the entertainment agencies, and fans (consumers) passively “consumed” it. But now fans (consumers) can interact with the agency and the artists through new media channels, providing inputs and feedback during the production phase.

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Therefore, the role of fans (consumers) has evolved from “passive consumption” to “pro-active participation.” Through platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and V-Live, fans can share every move of BTS and stay in touch with them, and fans fully embrace BTS as part of their life and identify themselves with them.

BTS Official Twitter

Click this link to get to BTS official Twitter page.

BTS official Instagram

Click this link to get to BTS official Instagram page.

BTS live on VLIVE

Check out BTS’ VLIVE channel here.

Not only that, but the inspiring values BTS also preaches, love, effort, and beauty of youth, have created absolute empathy in teenagers’ minds. In other words, BTS has become a life mentor and a BFF and that’s something no one has ever tried before.

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