More lessons from the K-Pop industry

K-Pop? K-Drama? K-Horror? Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Korean cultural products have infiltrated not just the Philippines but the world as well. Just look at the reaction to SMTOWN New York (Link: and you'll know what I mean.

South Korea's culture products including music, movies, drama, food, video games, and fashion have attracted a steadily increasing market. The influence of Korean culture is something that can no longer be ignored. The "Hallyu" phenomenon, also known as the "Korean Wave," seem to be getting stronger despite critics who predicted its quick decline.

I initially wrote an article entitled "Lessons from the K-Pop Industry" to highlight some features of the K-Pop industry which contributes to its success. In that article, I discussed how they invest on local talent and think out of the box. In this follow-up article, let me share some other lessons from the K-Pop industry, particularly from the stars themselves, which our local talents may benefit from. The K-Pop industry is not without its imperfections but there are lessons that may be gleaned for the success of the Hallyu phenomenon.

Put in the work

Today's top K-Pop stars like TVXQ/JYJ, Girl's Generation, 2NE1, Big Bang, and Super Junior did not achieve fame overnight. In fact, these stars trained with their management companies for an average of 3 to 5 years before debuting.

Many, if not all, K-Pop stars started as trainees and had to leave their homes, stay in dormitories, and endure grueling hours of training—all without having the real guarantee that they will ever debut. Just imagine the heartbreak involved when a trainee is told that others will debut ahead of them. Can you hear the sound of dreams crashing down? Many may be surprised to know that Super Junior was borne out of trainees who were left behind after SM Entertainment chose to launch the top crust (i.e., TVXQ).

Hard work pays off, though, as many stars do reap the benefits of their sacrifice. Nonetheless, there are several nameless trainees who sacrificed their youth (and at times, their education) only to remain as trainees. Many may not even experience the sweet taste of a debut.

In a very real way, the training years serves as a sieve to ensure that those who have the talent, hunger, and determination are the ones who endure and prevail. No wonder K-Pop stars who put in their "10,000 hours" (or even more) perform perfectly and without restraint on stage.

Fan service

What is fan service? Fan service originated from the world of manga where material is intentionally added or produced to please the audience. In the context of show business, this refers to "serving the fans" or "giving fans exactly what they want".

The term "fan service" is common in K-Pop and the best example of fan service is when stars do (or endure) actions and/or performances they are not necessarily comfortable with. The best example is the "aegyo" or doing "cute" gestures for fans. "Aegyo" is indeed a fan service favorite. Doing "aegyo" is, without doubt, an embarrassing thing for a hunky idol like TVXQ's Changmin or Super Junior's Donghae or Siwon to do but they do it anyway just to please the fans. The result? The fans love it and want more!

Another form of "fan service" is when a star intentionally prepares gifts or greetings for their fans. A good example is when Kim Hyun Joong prepared autographed boxes of Pepero for his fans during "Pepero Day". This unexpected gift endeared the star to his fans even more. Sandara Park of 2NE1, tagged as the "queen of me2day" never fails to makes headlines for her many fan service moments through me2day, Korea's facebook. Something as simple as uploading a new hairstyle or a dance choreography pose pleases the fans and constitutes fan service.

K-Pop stars also hold fan meetings for their fans. This is also another type of fan service where the stars schedule a day to meet, greet, and perform exclusively for their fans. A fan meeting is usually attended by the stars' most loyal fans specially fan club administrators and members.

There is a song proclaiming that "there is no business like show business" and the K-Pop industry understands this. Cultural exports including dramas, movies, and music contributed to South Korea's ample export revenue landing them in the top 10 exporters of the world. Indeed, there is a lot of money to be made in show business but behind the glitz and glamour, there is also a lot of effort and sacrifice involved.

Catherine Deen blogs for Yahoo! Philippines OMG!. She lives, eats and breathes Korean music, cuisine, telenovelas, and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter @cathsdeen.

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