As many of you may already know, one of the biggest goals for Korean Entertainment groups is that their artists eventually get big enough to expand to Japan. We have seen how a Japanese debut can boost a groups all around success with these two long standing examples, BoA and Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK).
BoA, being the first Korean artist to breakthrough into the Japanese music industry in late 2001, received moderate popularity after her debut single reached #20 on the Oricon Charts. Seeing the potential for growth, Avex and SM bosses decided that BoA would concentrate on her Japanese career for a while and boy did it pay off! By the time BoA’s first Japanese album Listen To My Heart was released on March 13th 2002, she had already become well known in Japan and the album shot up the Oricon Charts along with her new Japanese single Every Heart. This popularity in Japan lead to an exponential growth in her musical career back home in Korea as well. SM Ent. were very pleased with this outcome and were already making plans for their next group DBSK.
DBSK made their debut officially on 14th January 2004 with the release of their debut single Hug. DBSK proved to be an extremely talented group and quickly climbed up the ladder of fame inside Korea and so in the short time of a year and 3 months DBSK made their Japanese debut, following in their fellow label mate’s, BoA, footsteps. They however did not kick off in Japan at first. They waited a while, getting better with their Japanese, further improving their vocal talents, and getting more popular in Asia in general. By the time Japan finally fell for their charm, DBSK had already made quite a reputation for themselves as one of the best and most successful groups in Asia. Japanese fans quickly got to work and DBSK’s popularity sky rocketed.
With the success BoA and DBSK made in Japan other labels decided that they too would try and break into the Japanese music industry as it was such a bigger market than that of South Korea. In the past two years we have seen groups such as Kara, 2PM, SHINee, SNSD, Super Junior, After School, 4 Minute, BEAST, FT Island, 2NE1 and many more expand into Japan. The Japanese people seem to like this rush of Korean artists because as more groups make their debut in Japan, they are instantly popular. The Hallyu Wave seems to have taken Japan for a long ride.
The film industry has also jumped on the train to Japan not wanting to miss out on a way to make more of a profit. Actor Jang Geun Suk is seems to be quite popular in Japan as pictures of him can be found practically anywhere.
The Japan Centre in London by Piccadilly Square sells a number of Japanese magazines and more often than not, Korean artists are featured on the front covers or somewhere inside the magazines. On my recent trip to the Japan centre I found two magazines with Jang Geun Suk, one with YunHo and ChangMin of DBSK and another with Kara all on the covers.
So with the recent rise in popularity of the Hallyu wave we are all left wondering what country is the next to fall under it’s charm. As a Londoner I would love to say that the UK was next in line, but I have to be realistic. So if I am honest I think the USA is the next. In the past few years the number of Kpop concerts and events happening in the US and Canada has been rising at a steady pace making it the more likely option. However, us UK fans may not have that long to wait if all the attention we are getting keeps up. Maybe even in the next few years it’ll be perfectly normal hearing Kpop songs on radio stations and Kpop videos on our music channels!