BTS, K-Pop and Hallyu: Creating Waves Softly
In May 2021, the South Korean boy band BTS beat out other international musicians for all four of the Billboard Music Awards for which they had been nominated. "Dynamite," BTS's top-selling song, was the band's first song in English. BTS and other K-pop groups had been able to achieve a high level of global success, especially since 2013, despite singing in a language that was foreign to many listeners. K-pop and other elements of Korea's creative economy represented Hallyu or "Korean Wave" of globally popular Korean entertainment and culture. Hallyu had contributed to the South Korean economy since 1999. Were Hallyu and its constituents serendipitous? How did BTS, K-pop, and Korea's creative economy act as Korea's secret weapon? Were there limits to the use of Hallyu? Tulsi Jayakumar is affiliated with SP Jain Institute of Management & Research.