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[Editorial] How War Between North And South Korea Could Transform The K-Pop Industry

posted by Aysohmay on 19 February, 2013 at 02:34 am   ·   49 comments
[Editorial] How War Between North And South Korea Could Transform The K-Pop Industry

On February 12th, North Korea conducted its 3rd nuclear test underground, causing a 4.9 magnitude earthquake and quick condemnation from most of the world. As the country demonstrated its progress towards being able to construct intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, South Korea flexed its military muscle, conducting large-scale military drills, deploying destroyers and submarines off the coast, and showcasing new cruise missiles capable of bombing any part of North Korea.

Tensions in the region remain high as the Western world and its allies do everything in their power to prevent North Korea from gaining nuclear arms without going to war. China, North Korea’s most powerful ally, continues to cautiously support the country, though China’s new leadership has been put in a difficult position. China doesn’t want North Korea to gain nuclear capabilities, but they also don’t want to end support of the country and risk its collapse, potentially leading to the reunification of the Korean peninsula as a Western ally.

With the region in such a delicate state, the possibility of war occurring is ever-present. North and South Korea technically remain at war with each other ever since the Korean War of the 1950s ended without a peace treaty. War between the two countries would drastically change the K-pop scene that has become so popular. For starters, say goodbye to your favorite male idol groups. North Korea is one of the most militarized countries in the world, with only 3 other countries, the US, China and India, having more active duty soldiers ready to be deployed. To match the vast North Korean army, South Korea would likely institute a mandatory draft – they already call upon every male citizen to serve 2 years in the military – and musicians would not be spared during war time.

In addition to forcing men into the army through a draft, many more people would join the army voluntarily to defend the homeland. South Korea’s mandatory enlistment already instills a sense of nationalistic duty into its population that would only be heightened in the case of a war. Male idols who don’t do their part in the war effort would be ridiculed and lose any popularity they have if they tried to avoid military duty.

With male idols out of the picture, female groups would rise to prominence. Groups like Girls’ Generation and Wonder Girls would become even more popular within South Korea than they already are as people looks towards them and their bubbly pop as an escape from the harsh realities of war. Groups like 2NE1 and miss A, who thrive on strong, independent women themes, would lose some of their popularity as the country becomes less concerned with social activism, finding it more important to give their unwavering support to the male-dominated army.

A new trend in the K-pop music industry would occur: nationalistic music. A war between North and South Korea, while not always fought on South Korean soil, would become a direct threat to the safety of South Korean citizens. Like any country that is under attack, nationalistic sentiments will flair, and music will reflect this cultural shift. Nationalistic music will mostly be sung by solo artists, specifically those who feel the strongest sense of national pride. Idol groups would remain less political in their music, though military concepts would become a major trend.

Although a new musical trend would arise in South Korea as a result of a war, new groups would not accompany it. In fact, the amount of new groups debuting every year would sharply decrease. The pool of trainees would dramatically decrease as people either went into the army or helped manufacture products as part of the war effort. Instability within the country would not be conducive for new groups to be successful, so companies would focus on established acts; however, within South Korea, new artists with a nationalistic focus could rise to prominence.

K-pop currently has a large appeal among international communities. War could change that. Initially, digital sales of idol music would rise as fans rush to support their favorite artists perceived to be suffering from the war. Over time though, sales will likely decline as the music industry changes, reacting to the war in a way that may not appeal to those outside South Korea, especially patriotic music whose appeal revolves around lyrical content that would be lost on non-Korean speakers.

A North and South Korean war would undoubtedly involve Western and Asian forces. While involvement in the war may be supported by these countries at first, over time, public sentiment will turn negative because the fighting won’t be on their soil and stirring up a patriotic duty to be involved. The Korean Wave may be growing now and slowly gaining popularity among the general population, but a prolonged war on the Korean peninsula would seriously damage the appeal of the nation’s music outside of the country.

If North and South Korea were to go to war with each other, K-pop as we know it – full of idol groups and capturing attention abroad – would be one of the many casualties the war would bring about. For the hardcore and even the casual fans, K-pop will likely continue to be an interest despite a war, but for the general public, war could be the barrier that keeps the Korean Wave from spreading any further.


Agree or disagree with the article? Let us know below, or send the author a tweet @Aysohmay to let him know your opinion.

All views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily JpopAsia
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  • Posted by nomio · 8 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    Its true that so many new bands but they dont have any special or new things its making kpop bad they should stop this, tvxq snsd suju are real idols and singers, but the war is not happening bcuz of kpop

  • Posted by pinkflower7783 · 3,042 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula the results would be far more worse then when the Korean war first broke out. I don't even wanna think of that scenario. We need to find a peaceful solution so we can work towards reunification.

  • Posted by pinkflower7783 · 3,042 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    Umm...instead of focusing on the future of Kpop should the two Koreas go to war how about focusing on the many lives that would be lost?!!! I am a Korean who lives in the US and it breaks my heart to see Korea the only country still divided. Were all Korean!!! North Koreans, South Koreans it doesn't matter! I hope and pray everyday that Korea someday will be reunified. Music will always be there but lives won't.

  • Posted by Mirkaa · 954 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    this whole war thing is so stupid >< we live in the 21st century for goodness sake :( All these talks about wars is making me sick and sad :/ and one thing I don't understand - NK and SK hate each other, China is an ally to NK but supports SK by interviewing Kpop stars and so on ... hmm~~ kind of confused here :?
    anyways!! I hope there won't be a war!!! I'm not a religious person but I pray for the safety of Korean people <3

  • Reply by pinkflower7783  

    What's so hard to understand?

  • Posted by LightningLunaIce · 3,576 Jpops · 3 shares · 3 years ago  

    I doubt that the music industry is going to matter if they do go to war. I also doubt that when they report the threat of North Korea on the news they mean the music industry as a matter of interest.
    I understand the point of the essay and I see your points. It just feels a bit insensitive to be focusing on the music industry during the topic of war.

  • Posted by Britt1110 · 3,216 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    Why did Hetalia pop into my mind...? Anyway, am I the only one whose major concern isn't what happens to kpop? It's not the fact that I'm a jpop fan, but the fact that it's war. What war has ever turned out good for anyone ever? While reading this, I felt like it was too defiant, like Kpop is defiantly going to die with a war. It's still going to be there people. It's not like if the two countries go to war, you will never hear a Korean song again.

  • Posted by ParkBommy · 137 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    No, I cried reading this!! I don't want to see my favorite boy groups going to war! )": I hate N. Korea and kim jong un so much!!!! I hope there is no war.

  • Reply by pinkflower7783  

    All you can think about is Kpop stars?? What about all the innocent lives that would be lost if Korea went to war?!! Families would be killed...

  • Posted by lilsis735 · 112 Jpops · 7 shares · 3 years ago  

    this is crazy and so sad :(

  • Posted by AnimeMangaFan · 14,507 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    I can not even think about this... it is so inevitable it is so sad T.T SAVE ME T.T

  • Posted by DanteD1112 · 237 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    I hope that war will not have to break loose especially with NK and SK

  • Posted by JFanstar · 84 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    Ummmm... Really interested

  • Posted by Touraine · 328 Jpops · 1 shares · 3 years ago  

    Would Japan really be that safe then? If there comes a war between NK and SK?

  • Reply by Aysohmay VIP  

    I would imagine not with their close proximity and likelihood of being involved.

  • Reply by CorpsmanThao  

    nope China hates Japan, plus Japan would also be the one of the US's main launching points

  • Posted by sushibabyx · 272 Jpops · 6 shares · 3 years ago  

    I don't even want to imagine this...

  • Posted by SongNight · 265 Jpops · 3 years ago  

    A war between those two would not be fun, regardless of the impact on music. I'd imagine it would be incredibly dangerous, with the amount of soldiers and bombs and such they have saved for each other. I would peace out and go hide in Japan.

  • Posted by Raindropbows · 30,289 Jpops · 9 shares · 3 years ago  

    Though, to be honest, I really hope that nothing of this sort will happen, I cannot deny the probability of such outcomes.
    It is only natural for a nation's people to feel and be affected by such nationalistic sentiments, especially when their own native land is under trials, so, I will not blame any K-pop celebrity if they decide to sing music focused on nationalism. Rather than worry about the future direction of K-pop music in its entirety or even the Hallyu Wave, I wish that no war will start for the sake of the citizens. Not just for Koreans but also for Americans, Chinese, and all those who will be effected if war breaks out. I pray that God will bring peace.

  • Posted by Chikai · 4,236 Jpops · 5 shares · 3 years ago  

    I would disagree with the assessment. The K-Pop industry is the face of South Korea for many people internationally right now. Even though Psy is not overly popular in South Korea, his sudden success internationally with Gangnam style earned him several awards domestically for the fact that he was introducing South Korean culture abroad. Although the events described above well could happen, I'm not sure the government would actually want to weaken the boy bands by demanding all of them come to the army. Overall there can't be more than a hundred or so men in the already established groups and that honestly isn't all that helpful a number for fighting. I couldn't say what would happen, but South Korea's wish to become a solid international force and the roll k-pop plays in that would definitely complicate things.

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