SM Entertainment, one of the largest record label and talent agencies in South Korea, burst into the limelight last Sunday night with the SM Town Live Concert in New York City. Held in Madison Square Garden, the massive performance was attended by no less than 15,000 people, having been sold out within weeks. The excitement and anticipation that hit crescendo that evening even sparked interest from the New York Times and Billboard, some of the United States’ top news and music authorities. The articles talked about Hallyu and how “the [Korean] wave has opened the floodgates of K-Pop in France, Brazil, Germany and Australia…. it’s about to take over New York.” And so it has— in overflows of exhilaration, fans even stormed their favorite groups’ hotels and began camping out in front of the Garden at 4:00am, 15 hours prior to the 7:00pm show.
But it was hardly surprising, considering the amount of fame and love Korean pop stars have been receiving around the world. Top-tier idols like DBSK (TVXQ), Super Junior. SHINee, Girls’ Generation, and f(x) usually have 10,000 to 20,000 members in their fan clubs—and this is just the number on Soompi, an website that, being English, doesn’t include all international and South Korean fans. Furthermore, K-Pop music videos have consistently made video streaming website Youtube’s Most Viewed list, rivaling those of American idols like Justin Bieber or Katy Perry.
Hallyu—the spread of South Korean culture, or the “Korean Wave”—has been an increasingly influential force in the international community. Although led by the rapid expansion of K-Pop and Korean dramas, Hallyu also encompasses other aspects of Korean culture, such as the food, clothing, and language. Korean music festivals like SM Town Live can definitely be expected to continue in their successes, both at home and abroad.