Multiple South Koreans living in the United States answered the question, “What do you think about K-Pop’s global impact?” Responses varied widely person by person, but one thing is clear: Music always makes an impact.
Park Soo-jin, a 23-year-old Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK) described her thoughts while reflecting on her study abroad experience.
“I was an international student in Texas back in 2014. At the time, Korean pop wasn’t really a thing in America then,” she says. “I clearly remember my classmates teasing me and the music in a racist” manner.
That said, Park’s little sister is studying in in Oregon right now.
“It’s like a whole new world,” she says. “Everyone around her knows about Korean pop. I’m just glad people are more accepting of that stuff.”
It’s like a whole new world. Everyone around her knows about Korean pop. I’m just glad people are more accepting of that stuff.Park Soo-Jin, 23
Twenty-year-old global relations major Kim Min-jun says that when he sees people his age like the K-pop group TWICE touring the world, it’s a big deal for him.
“I think, ‘Wow, we made it!’ I guess it’s just national pride,” he says.
Kim adds: “I think K-Pop has brought in a lot of tourism, so our economy is really going up because of that.”
When I see people my age, like [the K-pop group] TWICE, touring the world, I think ‘wow, we made it!’Kim Min-Jun, 20
Lee Sung-min, a 52-year-old Korean teacher, felt similarly.
“Back in the 1990s, I could have never imagined our little country could go global,” he says. “Most of my foreign students tell me they’re here learning Korean so they can sing along to their favorite K-Pop songs.”
Most of my foreign students tell me they’re here learning Korean so they can sing along to their favorite K-Pop songs.Lee Sung-min, 52
Not all South Koreans agree, though.
Twenty-nine-year-old cultural nomad Cho Gi-Hoon doesn’t see K-Pop’s global impact as a positive.
“I’ve traveled to and worked in over 15 countries,”Cho says. “From my point of view, the global growth of K-Pop just promotes a toxic work environment that those K-Pop idols face. It might be good for our [South Korean] economy, but K-Pop idols are overworked. What does that say about my country?”
According to The Korea Times, K-pop idols are often mistreated and overworked by their management agencies.
It might be good for our [South Korean] economy, but K-Pop idols are overworked. What does that say about my country?Cho Gi-hoon, 29
Whether positive or negative, it’s undeniable that K-Pop has made and will continue to make a global impact.