Hip Hop In South Korea

1525 Words 7 Pages
Searching for a Bridge Between the Disconnect:
Exploring the Rise of Hip-Hop in South Korea
Hip hop was an underground movement during the 90s in South Korea. Members of the hip hop community were few and often rumored to be part of a “Westernized cult” (Maher). Fast forward less than a decade, hip hop has emerged and taken a strong presence in South Korea’s music industry. Amongst the Barbie-like girl groups donning pink school girl skirts and metro-sexual boy bands, hip hop artists are the definite black sheep of the crowd. So how does a genre thrive so well in a country doesn’t seem to have a strong connection to the origins of hip hop at all? There is little to no black Americans in South Korea population, nor does hip hop authentically
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Entering in the 21st century, K-pop took not only the country, but the world by storm—a phenomenon also known as the “Hallyu Wave”. International success of the industry led to the emergence of giant entertainment corporations. Companies like SM, YG, JYP, Cube are known as entertainment factories that create, perfect, and toss out boy bands and girl groups. But the sudden influx of groups inevitably leads to competition. The industry has turned into an arena that hosts a game of who can whip out the best looking, skinniest, most talented group the fastest. Plastic surgery is a common weapon used by entertainment companies to get a head start on the race. Young boys and girls aspiring to be stars of the Hallyu wave are forced to sign contracts—ultimately binding themselves as mere puppets of these big businesses. Companies direct their every movement, course of action, and even how they look like through strenuous diets and facial operations. As K-pop claimed more prominence on the international stage, the power it had on South Korea’s customs, trends, and thoughts rapidly amplified. Marketing a certain beauty aesthetic, the industry indirectly commands South Korean citizens to fit to the specific mold and tells aspiring artists that being good-looking is a basic prerequisite—if you can’t offer anything with your face, your music will never matter. …show more content…
riots. Growing up in Los Angeles, the “bustling city of hip-hop culture”, he saw music as a medium of peaceful communication (Brown). Korean hip hop has often been criticized for appropriating black culture and there’s no denying that the genre has Western undertones. But if we look at artists like Tiger JK, we see that there are a number of Korean-Americans breaking through the Korean hip hop industry carrying with them the true origins of hip hop. Korean-Americans were once kids who grew up with the “American Dream” ideal. They naturally bring this mentality along with them when pursuing their musical aspirations in South Korea. Through their lyrics and attitudes, it’s clear that Korean-American artists and also artists influenced by Korean-American culture seek to test the norms by skills alone. Rather than being decorative veneers singing and dancing to songs that lacking meaning, they aspire bring more substantial lyrics to the table. But in order to do so, they’re required to thrive in unideal conditions by starting their musical career independently on the streets, rather than lavish buildings of big entertainment companies. The jump is risky and delivers no guarantee of success. But it requires artists to be innovators of their own journey, rather than following a written path. This

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