International Music Spotlight: South Korea


Ella Mulligan '19, Writer


BTS is a South-Korean boy group formed in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The group consists of seven members Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. The group debuted with “No More Dream”, a heavily hip-hop influenced track and began to gain a following, winning many awards for New Artist of the Year from several different awards programs in Korea.   However, as their careers have progressed, the group has begun to become a large part of the writing process for their songs. With the event of more contribution to composing and writing from the members of the group,  their style began to progress into more R&B and EDM dance music.  BTS’s newest album to be released, “Wings,” topped the Itunes charts at #1 in 26 countries and debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200, which is the highest ranking a Kpop album has achieved on the list to date.

The song recommendation for BTS is the title track off of  “Wings” called “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” Within twenty four hours of the song’s release on Youtube, the music video for  “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” accumulated six million views.  


EXO is a South-Korean boy group that was formed in 2012 under S.M. Entertainment. The boy group debuted as twelve members split into two subunits EXO-K and EXO-M before eventually combining both to eventually be promoted as EXO. EXO-K focused primarily on music spoken in Korean and did most of their promotions in Korea while their partners EXO-M targeted a primarily Chinese market and released songs in Mandarin. Currently there are nine members in EXO; Suho, DO, Lay, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Kai, Chen, Xiumin, and Sehun with three former members from EXO-M Kris, Luhan, and Tao. EXO’s debut track “Growl” was released in 2014 and was an instant success, pushing EXO to the front of the K-Pop scene. Now EXO has a reputation for dominating awards shows and releasing chart-topping music.

In one of EXO’s more recent comebacks, they released their album Ex’act and their title song “Monster” was an instant success, becoming the fourth most watched K-Pop music video on YouTube in 2016. 


2NE1 was a South-Korean girl group formed under YG Entertainment in 2009 who debuted with their song “Fire”.  The group debuted as four members CL, Dara, Bom, and former member Minzy and quickly received recognition for their debut track with its hip-hop and reggae elements, earning them Song of the Year from Mnet’s Asian Music Awards (MAMA) and within 24 hours of release earning one million views on Youtube. Over the course of 2NE1’s career, each member took time to release solo tracks. When they returned in 2010, they became the only artists to ever win all three grand awards at the MAMA awards. In later years, the group would do a majority of their promotions overseas in Japan and in 2015 the future of the group was shaky. Each of the members was working on solo projects, especially leader CL who had recently released her solo album “Hello Bi+ches”.  Then in early 2016, YG Entertainment confirmed that the youngest member, Minzy, had not renewed her contract and was leaving 2NE1 and later in November, YG released a statement saying that the group would be disbanding.

2NE1 was able to release one final song before their disbandment titled “Goodbye”, which was written by CL and was first written as a song dedicated to former member Minzy. The song was later transformed to be seen as a letter written to both Minzy and 2NE1’s fans telling them that they loved their fans and saying their goodbyes until they meet again.