Several years ago, K-pop was a niche genre that not many people know about. However, the popularity of K-pop has exploded recently, with BTS leading the way into the American music industry for other K-pop groups.
However, even though the genre is now more accepted by the general public, it does not mean it is fully understood. For many fans, K-pop is still seen as a novelty by a lot of American news outlets and music audiences. As such, there has often been a call for K-pop artists to be treated with more respect in America.
BTS and several K-pop artists have been promoting in America
BTS’s popularity in America and other Western countries exploded in 2017 after the group won a Billboard Music Award. Since then, other BTS and K-pop artists have spent considerable time promoting in America as well.
For example, artists like BTS, SuperM, Itzy, NCT 127, and Stray Kids have toured in American cities. Plenty of K-pop groups have also done interviews with American news outlets and appeared on American TV shows.
Fans consistently criticize news outlets for their coverage of K-pop
However, while K-pop is clearly getting a lot of attention in American media, not every fan thinks the attention is positive.
For instance, BTS fans have criticized news outlets numerous times for their coverage of the group. Recently, Time Magazine was slammed for saying the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC “paved the way” for BTS’s success. Fans believed comparing BTS to Western boy bands undermined the K-pop groups’ own achievements.
Meanwhile, countless news outlets have been criticized for not doing proper research on BTS and K-pop. Forbes recently came under fire for publishing an article called “What Went Wrong With BTS’s New Album?,” which noted that their latest release, Map of the Soul: 7 – The Journey, only charted at number 115 on the Billboard 200 instead of in the top 10 like their earlier albums. However, the article did not mention that the album was only meant for the Japanese market, and it, in fact, did very well in Japan.
Fans believe BTS and K-pop artists deserve more respect in America
In a Reddit thread discussing K-pop artists promoting in America, one fan shared the opinion that American news outlets and audiences do not seem to give K-pop the respect it deserves. The person also pointed out that it feels like many places simply want to take advantage of K-pop’s dedicated fans to get more views and clicks.
“I don’t think people in the US will ever look at K-pop as more as weird Korean boy/girl groups,” the fan wrote. “They’ll never achieve respect, they’re all spectacle. That’s all. There is no legitimacy to [their award show] nominations, they’re mere popularity votes pandering to rabid fans so as to get ad revenue for attracting rabid fans to TV broadcasts. [It’s] not based on respect. It makes me nauseous.”
Other fans agree, with another person saying, “I’m hoping groups can be seen as respectable artists in America. I know BTS is getting more popular in America, but they are still being treated as a trendy foreign act rather than artists.”
Of course, the question of when—if ever—K-pop groups will be seen as respectable artists by the general public is a tough one to answer. It involves a lot of discussions about pop music as a whole and how race factors into it. At the end of the day, though, it is hard to deny that K-pop artists like BTS are still immensely successful and have achieved way more than most people would have thought possible.