K-pop is expanding its influence internationally, and therefore its fan base is becoming more diverse than ever. Content created by artists and their companies is watched by viewers around the world, not just in Korea.
This means that Korean artists now need a deeper knowledge of the historical and cultural context. However, many scandals over this show that the Korean music industry still has a long and difficult way to go if it really wants to influence the world.
There have been many scandals at Kpop over cultural and historical perceptions. An example is the case when Sovonformer participant GFriend, had to apologize for sharing the offensive photos. In the scandalous photo, she hugs a mannequin in the costume of a Nazi soldier.
Back in July 2020, MV for How You Like That BLACKPINK caused a scandal over the image of Ganesha – a Hindu god with an elephant’s head and a human body – without understanding its importance to Indian fans. In the light of criticism YG Entertainment decided to edit the clip and remove the scene with the statue of Ganesha.
In 2021 the company BTS also apologized for sampling the speech of cult leader Jim Jones in the mixtape Shugi “What Do You Think?”
«Today, k-pop is not just for Koreans. Artists and companies are focused on the global market, so they should take into account the views of people from different cultures“, – said The Korea Times Lee Gu Tag, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at George Mason University in Korea. «They need to learn about different cultures, taboos and histories to better understand their fans“, – added the professor.
Kim Hearn Sick, a critic of pop culture, agrees with Lee Guo Tag. According to Kim Hern Schick, Kpop’s management companies should set up departments or groups to address issues related to history and culture.
«For example, music videos are often shot by a producer outside the company. But every company needs to form a team and force its employees to re-examine whether their content may be offensive to some viewers or not.“He said.”
«They need to be more vigilant, because scandals related to cultural or historical issues can greatly tarnish a singer’s reputation. It is important to act quickly – for example: to apologize“He said Kim.
As for the case with Sovon, although many international fans were unhappy with her performance, some Korean viewers sided with her. They claimed it was “just a mistake”. Differences in culture, according to Kimmay lead to the fact that the views of Korean fans will differ from the views of fans from other countries.
«But I believe that domestic K-pop fans should try to understand the feelings and pain of foreign fans. They should not turn a blind eye when international fans seek mutual understanding and respect“- stressed Mr. Kim.
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