The korean pop music industry has hit record highs within the past decade, creating an enormous market, often times with plasticized faces and synthesized music. This a very harsh way of describing the current trend, but one cannot deny that idols are held to unrealistic standards of beauty and have voices that are improved (or morphed) by the music industry god, Autotune.
However, there are many positives that come with the idols. They are known for their versatility, from promoting positive public images in society (not necessarily with music but at least as people) to increasing national economic activity.
And now, thanks to both the appealing and addictive qualities of pop music, idols are responsible for promoting a Korean presence in other parts of the world, namely Japan. I say this not because I think idols are the key to inter-Asiatic diplomacy, but it appears that putting Korean idols in Japan is just another way of emphasizing the rising strength and prominence of the Hallyu Wave, which could even be read as an extension of a power trip.
But if idols sent to Japan are to relay the formidable character of the K-pop industry, then why are they trying to break into the Japanese music industry through reproduction? Almost every idol or idol group shipped out to Japan merely translates their Korean hits into the native language. SNSD,SHINee, After School, 2NE1, and Tiara are examples of idols guilty of recreating their music for Japanese audiences.
In turn, it become more apparent that the point of debuting idols overseas is to 1. promote the Korean music industry and 2. boost Korean pride. And this is no secret; Japanese fans often question why they’re handed Japanese remakes and not original music. Recently, Dara from 2NE1 announced through her me2day that 2NE1’s new Japanese single would be “It Hurts”, a remake of one of 2NE1’s korean singles released last year. It’s possible that the appeal of the music will soon override the principle in question, but it doesn’t change the fact that major idols are active in the recycling process.
Recycling a large amount of a group’s successful Korean music is red flag that a company does not fully understand the Japanese market or Japanese music. If they had a true understanding of the Japanese music industry, wouldn’t they try to appeal to Japanese audiences with original Japanese music that demonstrates an honest effort to substantiate the idea that K-pop is a versatile and ingenious realm of music?
The reproduction and distribution of Korean music in Japan contradicts the message the Hallyu Wave is trying to send. Though many groups do become serious competitors in Japan’s unique music industry and eventually produce original music, the fact that the reproduction process is still so widely used unnerves me. Where is the inventive and robust vitality of Korean music industry in Japan if everything released there is merely a replica?