The K-pop group BTS at the Grammy Awards in 2022.

What's the deal with K-pop?

ASK A RESEARCHER: The Korean music genre has become very popular in Norway and across the globe. Why is that?

You may have heard of BTS or Blackpink? Both groups produce K-pop music, and it's a genre that perhaps not everyone knows about.

Zoran Lee Pecic is a professor at NTNU. According to him, it is not so easy to explain exactly what K-pop is, because it can be several things.

“On one hand, we can say that it’s music and culture that comes from South Korea, and therefore it has the name K-pop, meaning Korea-pop,” he says.

At the same time, we can find K-pop from other countries. It's music, after all. This means that an artist in Norway can also make K-pop.

Here you can view BTS’ DNA music video.

Popular all over the world

Many might think that K-pop has only become popular now, but that’s not correct.

“K-pop became popular around 2010, because social media made it possible for people to discover new stars,” he says.

Pecic explains that social media made it possible for fans to communicate with each other and form a fan base.

The popularity of the music can also introduce us to something new.

“K-pop can be a great way to introduce the Norwegian audience to culture that is not European or American. There really is a lot outside of Europe and the USA that is very exciting and popular,” he says.

The fans are part of the group

New technology has made it easier for fans to take a more active part in the music.

Pecic says that being a fan today is completely different. Before, people bought a CD and listened to it, and maybe went to a concert, and that was it. Now, things are different.

“An example could be that you take part of a music video and combine it with another music video. It becomes, in a way, a completely new music video. The fans send this video to fan groups and in that way, they become more engaged in the content,” he explains.

Here you can view Blackpink's DDU-DU DDU-DU music video.

Sing about feelings

Even though many of the K-pop songs may seem uplifting, many of the lyrics are deal with serious themes.

“They are somewhat open to talking about the pressure they experience by being in a group. They sing about anxiety and depression and about being insecure. Something that many, especially young people across the globe can identify with. It's not about how big, popular, and rich I am, but maybe about how insecure I am, how much anxiety or depression I feel,” explains Pecic.

The music may sound different from what you are used to listening to.

“This approach showcases a distinct way of expression , particularly evident in BTS as a K-pop group, whose message and lyrics often diverge from what is typically seen around the globe,” he says.

Another way to view gender

It’s not just through the music that the genre stands out, but also how the members look.

Although it might not be entirely new, Pecic believes it can challenge how we view gender.

“It’s another way to view masculinity. Where men show that they are vulnerable. It can help challenge how one thinks about what a woman is and what a man is, and what that means,” he explains.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

Read the Norwegian version of this article on

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