K-pop, a genre of music originating from South Korea, has taken the world by storm in recent years. Leading the charge are two of the biggest groups in the world: BTS and BLACKPINK. Their success has not only broken records but also helped to spread Korean culture across the globe.

Expanding into the Middle East

K-pop has made significant progress in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The country has hosted international events such as KCON, a convention celebrating the Korean cultural wave. Super Junior was the first South Korean boy band to perform in Saudi Arabia in July 2019, followed by BTS in October of the same year. The genre’s popularity has grown exponentially, with a 140% increase in listening on Spotify between January 2020 and January 2021, thanks to users from the Middle East and North Africa.

The Korean Wave and Cultural Influence

The rise of Korean culture, known as Hallyu or the Korean Wave, has had a significant impact on the West. Exhibitions like the V&A’s Hallyu! The Korean Wave showcases the rapid ascent of Korean culture across cinema, art, music, and fashion. This cultural
the phenomenon has broken the mold of commercial and conventional mainstream success, with artists like Lim Kim leaving the highly regimented K-pop system to create unique music that mixes hip-hop and traditional Korean instrumentals.

BLACKPINK: A Global Phenomenon

BLACKPINK, a South Korean girl group, debuted in 2016 with the single “Whistle,” which immediately topped the Korean charts. They have since become one of the biggest groups in the world, alongside BTS. BLACKPINK made history as the first K-pop act to perform at Coachella in 2019 and overtook Justin Bieber as the artist with the most YouTube subscribers in 2021. Their unique ability to move between Western and Asian pop markets has led to collaborations with artists like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Cardi B, and Dua Lipa.

BTS: Breaking Records and Barriers

BTS, a South Korean boy band, has also achieved remarkable success since their debut in 2013. They have broken numerous records, including becoming the first K-pop group to top the US Billboard 200 chart and the first group since The Beatles to achieve three number-one albums in less than a year. Their massive global fanbase, known as the “ARMY,” has helped propel them to new heights, solidifying their status as one of the most influential acts in the music industry today.