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[Weekender] Korean Wave continues to make splash in ASEAN

Following the advent of Psy and his global hit song “Gangnam Style,” K-pop gained an unprecedented level of international attention, encouraging government and local music firms to continue their efforts to export K-pop.

With geographical closeness facilitating cultural exchanges between Korea and ASEAN nations, hardcore fandoms of Korean music, movies and dramas ― referred to as hallyu, or the Korean Wave ― have sprung up.

Idol stars ― from rookie groups to big-time acts like Big Bang or Girls’ Generation ― are making their way to Southeast Asia to cash in on hallyu’s growing international success. Be it for fan meet-and-greet events or live shows, ASEAN nations have been a shining target for hallyu promotion, leading to the birth of such online K-pop fan organizations as Singapore’s SGK-Wave ― an online community dedicated to the spread of Korean pop culture in Singapore. 
Big Bang (YG Entertainment)
Big Bang (YG Entertainment)

“The current K-pop Wave in Singapore is overwhelming,” said an SGK-Wave representative in a statement to Kpopalltime. “There is no way one can avoid the K-pop topic, you will have to hear of something Korean at least once a day. Even if you are not into K-pop, you would have at least heard and know who Super Junior and SNSD are. That’s how crazy it is.”

Singapore has become one of the largest K-pop hubs among ASEAN countries. This year alone, Singapore has played host to an overwhelming number of K-pop concerts including performances by Rain, FT Island, CNBlue, B.A.P, YG Family and EXO, and also held the “K-pop ASEAN Festival 2014 Cover Dance Contest,” in which K-pop lovers from all ASEAN countries battled it out on stage to their favorite K-pop dance singles. 
EXO (SM Entertainment)
EXO (SM Entertainment)

Thailand has also been on the receiving end of the Korean Wave with an influx of K-pop stars looking to gain a presence in the country.

“Thailand is one of the countries that is paying attention and is passionate about the booming of the Korean Wave,” said Yananranop Promsuk in his contributing post to the ASEAN-Korea Center’s online site.

“Most of the things from Korea will get attention from a large number of Thai people. One of the most popular (parts of the) Korean Wave in Thailand is K-pop,” he continued, noting that Korean music at times has had a mutually beneficial relationship with the Thai music industry.

“These days, Thai companies, in the music industry or other fields, also make deals with Korean music companies to get the copyright for selling and arranging Korean concerts in Thailand since they know it is going to make a lot of profit. Some companies also launch programs to send Thai singers or trainees to Korea to get more experience in singing and dancing.”

Along with Korean pop culture’s impact in ASEAN countries, K-pop fever has also led to a steady increase in Southeast Asia’s presence in the local music market, with some of the nation’s top entertainment agencies such as JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment holding global auditions to find new trainees who are looking to make their K-pop debut.

By Julie Jackson (