Spearheaded by Psy and the 2012 viral smash, “Gangnam Style,” groups like BIGBANG, SNSD (Girls’ Generation), 2NE1, SHINee, EXO, F(x), Wonder Girls, B.A.P and VIXX carried the Hallyu Wave for the past five years. As international interest and popularity rose, Hallyu events became more accessible to wider audiences, especially when CJ E&M and MNET announced the first KCON in 2012. The resounding success of that event has resulted in annual events in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014. Starting in 2015, KCON took place twice a year, once in L.A. and once in New York. This was in addition to the number of cities around the world that have experienced KCON for the first time in the past two years.
2018 promises the beginning of a new era in Hallyu: Hallyu Domination. The trailblazers of this new era are none other than BTS, who have made history as the first Korean group to perform on a major American Award show. Preceded by their win at the “Billboard Music Awards” and succeeded by a historic round of American promotions and performances on major TV shows, such as “The Ellen Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel” and “The Late Show with James Corden.” BTS has widened the reach of Hallyu. But they are not alone in these efforts. Groups like GOT7, Twice, Monsta X, Seventeen and Red Velvet have also made immense strides in creating footholds in international music charts.
Another notable mention is solo artist Jay Park. In 2017, Jay Park, became the first artist debuting in South Korea to sign to a major American label: Roc Nation.
What will the era of Hallyu Domination reveal to us? Will there be a higher possibility for more Hallyu appearances in mainstream Western media? Can we expect to see award show nominations for Hallyu content? Only time will tell.