photo: Danny Choo/Flickr

The Crazy World of Korean Pop Music

What does the western world know about korean pop music? Indeed, a lot of us might have learned about a south korean entertainer that goes by the name of PSY – a funny guy with his own magnificent dance moves that loves to wear tiny suits as much as he loves women.

Snapshot of pop artist PSY in his music video «Gentleman»˛

«Gangnam Style» Introduces Korean Pop to the World

The track «Gangnam Style» from PSY took the worldwide charts in 2012 and 2013 by storm meanwhile the North Korean government threatened to use nuclear weapons against the west. However, this music video has more than 1.9 Billion views on Youtube and is therefore the most seen music video ever. The whole world now knows how to do the «Gangnam Style» dance and jump around like riding a horse.

PSY – Gangnam Style (Director: Cho Soo-Hyun)

PSY's music and appearance left the impression that korean pop is somehow different than what a lot of people might have expected. Funnier, much more colorful and extremly high-budget. After the stunning success of his first video PSY tried to conquer the world once again by releasing his track «Gentlemen» on a recorded concert that spread through the social web.

PSY – Gentlemen (Director: Cho Soo-Hyun)

Record Labels and Their Bands

Surely when talking about korean pop we are discussing pop music originated in South Korea that spread in diffenrent genres like dance, electro, electronic pop, hip hop and RnB as well as rock music. So let us start with a great song from a female hiphop icon CL that is well known in the south korean teenage community for her succusful girl group 2NE1 and her solo tracks.

Snapshot of CL in «Baddest Female»

The solo track «Baddest Female» was released on YG Entertainment her music video reached more than 1 million views within 24 hours. (Director: Seo Hyun Seung)

Video not available anymore.

The strongest record labels in South Korea are SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and Cube Entertainment. All of those entertainment companies do not only sign musicians and music entertainers but also actors. By watching those videos one will come to the conclusion that the korean music video producers spend a lot of money on their creations. Also koreans love to combine koreans dialects with english words and phrases.

Big Bang – Fantastic Baby (YG Entertainment)

Big Bang

SM Entertainment has a favor for setups of 5 - 13 band members that do both sing and dance. Rumors exist, that many artist of this entertainment company were beaten and restricted in their private life as well as put on a diet and forced to have a plastic surgery. However, their fame is huge in Korea.

Girls Generation – «Gee» (SM Entertainment)
(Obviously made for a very young target group.)

SHINee – «RingDingDong» (SM Entertainment)
Singing about something fantastic and elastic.

Super Junior – «Sorry Sorry» (SM Entertainment)
Once known as the biggest boyband worldwide.

Indie Bands, Rock Music and Street Artists in Korea's Capital City

Besides the huge popularity of maintream electronic und dance songs still the Koreans love their hand made rock music. The songs offer a great variety of emotional lyrics and talent. One beautiful example ist the video of the band Busker Busker. The 3 guys bring their audience to tears with their authentic music. Besides, one of the band members comes from Ohio, USA.

Busker Busker

Busker Busker - «Love, at first»

Seoul is not only Korea's capital city but also it is a melting point of the old and the new music cultures. At night times Seoul's young and creative citizens head over to a district called Hongdae to enjoy great live bands from Korea or other countries.

Jung Sunho - «Mission Impossible» (Cover)

Published on March 10, 2014

Last updated on April 08, 2020


Tatjana Rauls is a Blogger at and student of music business studies at Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, She is focussing on music and technology industries of Subsahara Africa.
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