The history of K-pop


courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment, Amino Apps, and SM Entertainment

K-Pop has become a global phenomenon in the last few years, embracing the fusion between upbeat music and the South Korean language and culture. The 1990s gave the world K-Pop artists like Seo Taiji and Boys and H.O.T, while the current landscape of the genre gives the world popular music groups like BTS and BlackPink.

Angela Canales, Entertainment Editor

Plenty can agree that the music genre K-pop took off in the past five years and spread like wildfire. South Korean artists and groups like Twice, BTS and BIGBANG have accumulated notable fan bases all over the globe, reaching loads of people that do not even speak Korean and still continue to enjoy the music. Although the genre only recently became a global phenomenon, the history of K-pop actually traces back decades.


Modern K-pop kicked off specifically on April 11, 1992, where a band called Seo Taiji and Boys performed the hip-hop song “Nan Arayo (I Know)” on a television talent show, with a hip-hop dancing style never before endorsed in South Korea. This new style of music infused American pop with the South Korean language and culture. Believe it or not, YG Entertainment head (entertainment company of popular groups like BlackPink and BIGBANG) Yang Hyun Suk debuted as a part of Seo Taiji and Boys. Groups like H.O.T, Sech Kies, and Shinhwa also debuted in the 90s, kickstarting South Korea’s obsession with the newly-found genre. 


By the 2000s, groups and solo-artists that would forever shape the K-pop industry first came about. Popular singer-songwriter BoA debuted in August of 2000 at 14 years old; two years later she became the first Korean artist to break through borders and into Japan, following the fall of restrictions of exchanging entertainment between the two countries. The popular group Girls’ Generation made their debut in the summer of 2007, introducing girl groups as the next big thing in the K-pop industry. The group BIGBANG debuted in 2006, setting up an iconic inspiration and a respectable reputation for future K-pop boy bands to follow in future years. 


Although the groups and artists of the past have defined the legacy of K-pop in South Korea, one group, in particular, introduced the genre as a phenomenon to the globe: BTS. Debuting as a seven-member group in 2013 with the album 2 Cool 4 Skool, they have since broken records upon records, accumulated a fan-base stretching from Asia all the way to the Western hemisphere even performing at this year’s Grammys. The modern-day girl groups BlackPink, Twice and Red Velvet also debuted in the 2010s, gaining fan-bases and spreading their musical influences around the world. 

As K-pop gains more and more popularity, people may fail to acknowledge its evolution and roots originating in the 90s. From Seo Taiji and Boys to BTS, K-pop has transformed South Korean culture over the years and pop culture as a whole, all over the world.