K-pop Meets Black Lives Matter
You’ve heard of the iconic American Hollywood, Indian Bollywood, but have you heard of Korean K-pop? K-pop refers to Korean-pop music which to some Westerners, may not be common knowledge. However, to fans of K-pop, it is a whole universe. This universe comes with an extremely dedicated, international, and progressive fan base, which has been one of the reasons the genre has become relevant in the recent #blacklivesmatter (BLM) movement.
What is K-pop
K-pop originates in South Korea and has become the leading entertainment industry in the country, as well as a global phenomenon around the world. K-pop incorporates all forms of Korean popular music, like trot and folk music for example, but it is heavily influenced by Western culture and music.
The success of the genre can be attributed to the strategic work from the industry that created it . The Korean entertainment industry seems to have cracked the formula on superstardom. Building the celebrity figures, that are known as “idols” in the K-pop world, is a rigorous experience. Koreans who want to be involved in K-pop must start training in the industry from a very young age. Singing and dancing classes are mandatory parts of training to become an idol. As they get older, the hopeful young talents try to get signed by labels and then become solo artists or join a group.
There is a lot happening behind the scenes in the making of a K-pop band or idol. Fans understand this process and therefore follow along the journey of these “idols” in a very dedicated manner.
K-pop and BLM
Global demonstrations have been taking place in regard to the injustices of systematic racism toward black people. Although racism has been a problem in the world for centuries, there has been a more recent upsurge of consciousness in what to do about it systematically. Due to the global phenomenon of social media, Americans specifically, have been able to see the injustices of police brutality toward African Americans. The viral video of George Floyd getting choked by a police officer in Minneapolis has sparked the biggest modern day revolution to civil rights since the 60s.
The BLM movement has been met with opposition by tags such as #whitelivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter. It is important to note, the cause tied to BLM is not aimed at degrading anyone. It is not saying that all lives don’t matter. It is simply saying that black lives and marginalized communities are the focus right now. BLM aims to elevate awareness on systems that have generally seemed to oppress black lives. This oppression is due to a deep rooted history of slavery, racism, and current day clacissim, which has not come close to being properly rectified in the country. Systems like the police force and the government in the US have continuously shown what the country does not want to see in terms of repeating an abhorrent mindset from history.
K-pop fans as well as their idols, have come to support this cause in unexpected and incredibly ingenious ways. Open minded K-pop fans, who have one of the strongest communities on social media, decided to ban together and use their community for good. These fans started flooding the #whitelivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter pages on social media with pictures of K-pop idols, GIFs, memes, songs etc. They did this in an attempt to clog up any spaces on social media that were working in opposition to the BLM movement. Nobody knew what to think about this interesting way to help further the cause, but it worked. The fans of K-pop specifically were at the forefront of people who aided in this cause. It was mainly after fans of K-pop took action, that the actual “idols” contributed. A popular group called BTS donated $1 million to the BLM cause after the fandom movement.
The K-pop fans have proven how incredibly strong, passionate, and well versed in social media they are on a global scale during this time. This sub-movement helped the larger movement of BLM teach everyone the power of an organized, passionate group of people in the age of technology. It is beautiful to see different groups of people and culture coming together to support each other.
Here at Qi Alchemy, one of our missions is to help spread the positive influences from Korea to the Western world. We love to share the culture our Qi Alchemy pearls are built on, while also learning from others.
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Written by Isabella Cammarata