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K-Pop Makes the Scene in Seoul

The South Korean capital is developing a neglected area of the city to tout its famous music genre.
Members of one of South Korea's most beloved K-pop groups, BTS (also known as the Bangtan Boys), pose on a red carpet in Hong Kong.
Members of one of South Korea's most beloved K-pop groups, BTS (also known as the Bangtan Boys), pose on a red carpet in Hong Kong. Bobby Yip/Reuters

Korean pop music, or K-pop, is such an integral part of South Korean culture that the government has blared it through loudspeakers across the border with North Korea just to annoy Kim Jong Un. The music is a mix of genres, including pop, hip hop, and electronic, and mainly features glossy boy bands and girl groups whose labels strictly train them in dancing, singing, and comportment.

K-pop is also an economic boon for South Korea. Keith Howard, a professor at the University of London who has studied the genre, says that the country has seen a return of $5 for every $1 spent on K-pop—not only from the music, but from its role in selling other Korean products like Samsung phones and televisions. South Korean government agencies estimate that K-pop brought more than $11 billion to the economy in 2014.