‘Squid Game’, ‘Hellbound’, BTS success shows West’s acceptance of Korean culture

From dramas “Squid Game” and “Hellbound” to superband BTS, South Korean pop culture has garnered fans around the world throughout 2021, raising hopes about what’s in store for the coming year.

‘Squid Game’, a dystopian Korean drama series, became the most-watched Netflix content of all time with over 1.65 billion hours in the first four weeks after its September release, Yonhap News Agency reports. Is.

The nine-part series is about contestants competing in a deadly Korean children’s playground to win 45.6 billion won ($38.5 million) in prize money.

The show’s popularity last month made its costumes for Halloween — green tracksuits and black masks — a fashion hit in many countries around the world. On TikTok, a short video social media platform mostly used by teenagers, videos of people playing children’s games appearing in the series are spreading fast.

And then “Hellbound,” a new South Korean fantasy horror series from Netflix, surpassed “Squid Game” as the most-watched TV show on the streaming platform, a day after its release last month.

‘Hellbound’, which depicts social upheaval and unrest following a series of unspeakable supernatural events, sat on the service’s global chart of its 10 most popular TV shows for 10 non-consecutive weeks, until It didn’t drop off the list last Thursday. But three Korean dramas were on the charts – “Squid Game” at No. 6, KBS’ historical romance “The King’s Affair” at No. 7 and TVN romance “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” at No. 9 that day.

In the K-pop industry, BTS continued its record-breaking performance this year as its second English-language single “Butter” remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks.

The South Korean boy group followed it up with two other chart-toppers, ‘Permission to Dance’ and ‘My Universe’, a collaborative single with British rock band Coldplay.

The septet snagged four awards at the annual Billboard Music Awards and three at the American Music Awards (AMAs), and was nominated in the Grammy Awards’ Best Pop Duo or Group Performance category for the second year in a row. Notably, during the AMAs held last month, BTS became the first Asian act to win the top honor of Artist of the Year.

The K-pop giant held four sold-out concerts at Los Angeles’ Sophie Stadium, where more than 200,000 American fans gathered over four nights between November 27 and December 1 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yonhap quoted experts as saying that these unprecedented successes once again proved that Korean pop culture is now firmly rooted in the global entertainment market, which has been dominated by the United States for nearly a century.

Kim Young-dae, a music critic, said in a radio program, “In the past, the Korean wave was just a regional phenomenon in some geographically and culturally adjacent Asian countries.” “But now, it is a global phenomenon that is happening without any particular pattern and is not happening in countries with similar culture backgrounds such as the United States, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.”

Noting that a total of 13 albums from other K-pop groups, such as BLACKPINK, TWICE, Seventeen, Enhyphen, ITZY, NCT 127, Tomorrow X Together and Monsta X, made it to the main album charts of the Billboard 200, some of which made it to the top charts. Ranking reached. This year, Kim said these achievements show that there has been a fundamental shift in the West’s perception of South Korean culture in recent years.

“Westerners had stereotypes or prejudices about Asians, and from that point of view, they consumed foreign material in the past. They thought foreign material was fun, but too flashy or eccentric,” he told Psy’s 2012 Referring to the worldwide hit of ‘Gangnam’. Style’ as an example.

But things have changed in the recent three to four years, where K-pop idol groups are perceived as a new standard of aesthetics or modernity, he pointed out.