From ‘Squid Game’ to BTS, 2021 is most memorable year for Korean culture
SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – From dramas “Squid Game” and “Hellbound” to supergroup BTS, South Korean pop culture has drawn fans from all over the world throughout 2021, raising hopes for what lies ahead for the year ahead.
âSquid Game,â a dystopian Korean drama series, has become the most-watched Netflix content of all time with over 1.65 billion hours viewed in the first four weeks after its September release.
The nine-part series is about competitors competing in deadly Korean children’s playground games to win 45.6 billion won ($ 38.5 million) in cash prizes.
The popularity of the show made its costumes – green tracksuits and black masks – a huge Halloween fashion hit in countries around the world last month.
On TikTok, a short video social media platform used primarily by teenagers, videos of people playing children’s games appearing in the series quickly spread.
And then âHellbound,â a new South Korean fantasy horror series from Netflix, topped âSquid Gameâ as the most-watched TV show on the streaming platform, a day after its release last month. .
“Hellbound,” which depicts social unrest and turmoil after a string of inexplicable supernatural phenomena, topped the service’s world rankings for its 10 most popular TV shows for 10 non-consecutive weeks until it slipped off the list last Thursday.
But three Korean dramas were on the charts: “Squid Game” at # 6, KBS ‘historic romance “The King’s Affection” at # 7, and tvN’s romance “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” at # 9 that day. .
In the K-pop industry, BTS continued their record run this year as their second English-language single “Butter” sat for 10 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
The South Korean boy group followed him with two more chart tops, âPermission to Danceâ and âMy Universe,â a collaboration single with British rock band Coldplay.
The septet has won four awards at the annual Billboard Music Awards and three at the American Music Awards, and was nominated for Best Pop Duet or Group Performance at the Grammy Awards for the second year in a row.
At the American Music Awards which took place last month, in particular, BTS became the first Asian group to win the highest honor for Artist of the Year.
The K-pop giant hosted four sold-out concerts at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, where more than 200,000 U.S. fans gathered for four nights between November 27 and December 1 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts say these phenomenal successes have once again proven that Korean pop culture is now firmly entrenched in the global entertainment market that has been dominated by the United States for nearly a century.
âIn the past, the Korean wave was just a regional phenomenon in some geographically and culturally adjacent Asian countries,â music critic Kim Young-dae said on a radio show.
“But now it’s a global phenomenon that is happening without a particular pattern and in countries without a similar culture like the United States, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.”
Noting a total of 13 albums from other K-pop groups, such as BLACKPINK, TWICE, Seventeen, Enhyphen, ITZY, NCT 127, Tomorrow X Together and Monsta X, entered the Billboard 200 main album charts, with some reaching High rankings this year, Kim said these achievements show that there has been a fundamental shift in the West’s perception of South Korean culture in recent years.
âWesterners obviously had stereotypes or prejudices about Asians, and from that perspective, they have consumed foreign content in the past. They thought the foreign content was fun but very exotic or eccentric, âhe said, citing Psy’s 2012 worldwide hitâ Gangnam Style âas an example.
But things have changed over the past three to four years, to the point where K-pop idol groups are seen as a new standard in aesthetics or modernity, he pointed out.
There is no doubt that behind the success of the two South Korean dramas lies the development of online streaming platforms and their provision of funding and artistic freedom necessary to target international markets.
Kang Yoo-jung, professor at Kangnam University in Seoul, said the pandemic had advanced the takeover by on-demand and streaming platforms of Hollywood’s dominance in the global entertainment market and that High-potential South Korean dramas had quickly embraced the change.
She said, however, that people had to pay more attention to the success of “Hellbound” than to that of “Squid Game” to really understand how far Korean content has come.
â’Squid Game’ was kind of a surprise hit like ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy. But when such incidents occur in succession, they together become a phenomenon, âshe explained.
âEuropean countries initially ignored the popularity of Korean culture, labeling BTS as part of teen culture, but professional critics in the region have just started to analyze the phenomenon, trying to understand why so many new stories from the world come from South Korea. she said.
She says the peak of the Korean wave has not yet arrived.
âIf BTS paved the way for Korean pop music, we can say that director Bong Joon-ho’s film ‘Parasite’ helped put other areas of Korean culture on solid footing and is now the beginning of the heyday of culture as the online streaming service itself is still an unknown area.
Music critic Kim nodded, saying, âAt first glance, what we’re seeing now seems like the pinnacle of Korean content. But given various circumstances, there is a great chance that he will grow taller.
He predicted that this trend is so strong and widespread that it is unlikely to be replaced in the years to come.