Beyond and Behind : K -pop Female Idol Groups' Rooting and Development

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Cai, Xiu
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K -pop, the abbreviation for Korean pop music, refer to pop music and dance performed by Korean idol groups, which usually contain five to ten members. Mainly targeting teenagers, K-pop first appeared in Korea 'in the early 1990s. Using the Japanese well-developed idol system as a model, Korea soon localized the system and developed a unique and attractive one. Over the next twenty years, Kpop has grown into a well-known world-wide music genre. Not only in East Asia, the popularity of K-pop also expanded to Europe and North America. Similar to the "Cute" (Kawaii) culture in Japan, K-pop culture is also considered a crucial softpower of South Korea. When it comes to the topic of K-pop, there are apparently plenty of boy bands gaining people's attention from all over the world. However, female girl groups have also occupied their fans' hearts. Starting from the debut of Fin.K.L and S.E.S, female idol groups successfully entered the mainstream of K-pop as early as the 1990s. Later on, the first and second decades of the 21st century were also known as the golden age of K-pop female idol groups. During these fifteen years, girl groups with variety concepts and styles were successfully debuted. For instance, Girl's Generation, which is known as the most popular female idol group among K-pop's history, is famous for its innocent, next-door girl image when they first debut. However, later on, the group has shifted their concepts for several times, and finally changed into elegant and independent ladies. On the contrast, 2NE 1, another female idol group which debuted in 2009, is known for its unique concept that is called "Girl Crush", which differs them from other idol groups. In addition, also debuted in 2009, the girl group f(x) had become the first female idol group that contained a tomboy member. Different from typical female idol groups, f(x) is playing with the idea of being a K-pop female idol by not being effeminate. Thanks to the hard work of second-generation female idol groups, K-pop has already occupied a position in worldwide music genres. Girl's Generation's · successful debut in North America is an appropriate example. As the K-pop girl groups gained attention from all over the world, the talent agency started to notice the huge potential market in foreign countries. Thus, during the second decade of the 21st century, entertainment companies started to hire foreign trainees and give them chances to debut in local K-pop groups. The boundary between distinct countries were broken by the idol groups and the talent agencies behind them. New groups debuted recently also showed the tendency of cracking down the boundaries between different countries by containing more foreign members. As for the next twenty years, K-pop will most possibly continue developing as one of the most important world-wide music genres. It is reasonable to believe that the K-pop girl groups will also continue to grow stronger in the next few decades. Not only containing more international members, future K-pop female idol groups also showed the tendency of having various concepts, creating closer relationships with fans, as well as debuting from reality shows and survival shows to gain public attention.
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