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Going K-Pop

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THE BBC DOCU, featuring the girl group Nine Muses (in photo), reports that Korean musical performances have become big business, grossing almost $200 billion a year. Photo from WWW.MTVK.COM

On the BBC channel last month, we caught an instructive and cautionary documentary about the formation and training of a new “K-Pop” singing group. The docu informed viewers that Korean musical performances have become big business, grossing almost $200 billion a year!

Thus, producers in Korea have been discovering and launching new musical groups with great zest and alacrity, to benefit from the rising popularity of “K-Pop” worldwide.

However, the documentary showed that not everything is rosy and hunky-dory on the K-Pop scene. With the new all-female teen group as prime example, it revealed that the road to musical stardom is littered with the broken dreams of hundreds of failed hopefuls!

Indeed, only one in a thousand prospective new entertainers in Korea attains stardom, while the rejects nurse their psychic wounds and sullenly try to make a living in other, less glamorous ways.

It was interesting to note that all of the members of the girl group were tall lookers, and actual musical talent was only a secondary requirement. So, “packaging” is more important than real musical ability, which may help explain why the K-Pop scene’s “mortality rate” is so high.

Later in the documentary, changes were made in the composition of the group, and better singers were recruited, who made the group’s performances more effective, resulting in the increased success that it began to enjoy.

Another liability appears to be the “all-business” attitude of the group’s producers—all of them stodgy, older males! Perhaps this explains why they can’t really understand and “represent” the K-Pop field’s generally teen-female audience?

On the Philippine entertainment scene, K-Pop groups have similarly become popular, with boy and girl groups idolized by their local fans and “Gangnam Style” exponent Psy now officially hailed as K-Pop’s first global superstar.

Instructively, however, only a few boy and girl groups have been formed here that click with the public. It looks like the K-Pop mystique isn’t easily “transferable,” since its exponents are practically required to look and sound the part, with only a slim margin left open for local inputs, adjustments and refinements.

True, some Korean talents, like Grace Lee and Ryan Bang, have made it in show biz here, but they have had to learn Tagalog and blend as much as possible with the local entertainment scene and its unique and even idiosyncratic way of doing things.

Therefore, prospective producers of local K-Pop-type groups should be able to make similar adjustments, while being faithful to the key tenets of the emerging “global” entertainment style.

On the other hand, it’s relevant to note that Korean drama series with Filipino dialogue tracks have become practically a staple on local TV, next only to our homegrown teleseryes.

The fact that the faces onscreen are Asian makes the “imported” nature of the programs less obtrusive, and the lines delivered in colloquial Filipino translation result in an even less obvious disconnect.

It’s instructive to further note that the plotting of the Korean dramas is less turgid and frenetic than their more melodramatically prolix and corkscrewy local counterparts. Hope that rubs off on our TV drama people real soon!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jay.ramos.71066 Jay Ramos

    If it is 200 billion US dollar$ a year, it’s exaggerated, the writer must check his data !

  • arpeelazaro

    did nestor torre really write this article? the first part was nicely written. further down the line it started to sound like a thesis.

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