Korean pop rides "Gangnam Style" into U.S. music scene

Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:10am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Gangnam Style," the catchy Korean song by rapper Psy, may have danced its way into the American charts but the Korean pop industry isn't horsing around when it comes to capitalizing on the singer's phenomenal U.S. success.

With "Gangnam Style" topping the current Billboard Digital Songs chart and becoming the most-watched video on YouTube ever with more than 800 million views, fellow Korean pop, or K-pop, artists are positioning themselves for similar U.S. breakthroughs.

Korea's pop music industry is thriving. Over the past two years, a handful of K-pop acts including girl group 2NE1, boy band Super Junior and nine-piece band Girls Generation have embarked on mini-promotional tours around the United States to build their audience.

"Psy has opened doors and is shining a spotlight on K-pop. People are paying attention to what's being done there," Alina Moffat, general manager at YG Entertainment group, which manages Psy, told a recent entertainment industry conference in Los Angeles.

Psy's vibrant music video, featuring his invisible pony-riding dance, also featured K-pop artists Kim Hyun-a of girl band 4Minute, and Deasung and Seungri of boy band Big Bang, all of whom are attempting to crack the U.S. market.

"YouTube has really changed the awareness of K-pop. Both American kids and second-generation Korean American kids are discovering it," Kye Kyoungbon Koo, director of the Korea Creative Content Agency, told a panel at a Billboard and Hollywood Reporter conference in Los Angeles in October.


For U.S. companies looking to invest, K-pop is being marketed as the next big thing, boasting young, stylish and influential artists who command devoted fan followings.   Continued...

South Korean pop singer Psy poses on the red carpet as he attends the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in Hong Kong November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip