Oh! Press Talk: Seeking Western Validation in K-Pop

Every fan wants to know that their favorite group is doing well: that their music is selling, the members have name to face recognition, and their fandom is always growing. And in recent years, this drive has surpassed fandom-centered goals to reach for higher and higher awards and recognition. And this has somehow manifested in K-Pop fans seeking fame and fortune for their faves outside of South Korea, but more specifically, in the West.

So Oh! Press is here to discuss: why are K-Pop fans so intent on earning recognition for their favorite idols within the Western world? Are Western accolades more important than Asian ones, or even ones earned within the borders of South Korea? Read on to find out our thoughts.


K-Pop is a very niche genre. It’s a niche in South Korea where “idol music” is more often than not expected to be upbeat, bright and well, “pop-y.” And it’s an even smaller niche in countries outside Korea, be it in neighboring Asian countries or the Western world. Many K-Pop fans seem to be drawn to the Korean music industry because it is a niche, and yet they seek widespread recognition for it. It’s a puzzling conundrum. But nothing is more baffling than the incessant need for their favorite groups to “make it” in the West. We’ve seen countless fails from K-Pop artists who tried to debut in America. I won’t go into the details there. But the sentiment now isn’t so much that the K-Pop fans want their faves to debut there, but somehow organically become mainstream. Or at least, acknowledged.

What’s most interesting about this is how some K-Pop fans will blatantly criticize or downplay the American music industry, and yet salivate when a D-list celebrity from said industry acknowledges their favorite K-Pop group. It’s hypocritical on multiple fronts, especially given how heavily K-Pop is influenced by Western music trends to begin with. And you see very little of this when non-Western celebrities acknowledge, praise, or otherwise recognize K-Pop groups. Not with Japanese, not with Chinese, not with any of the other countries whose combined population dwarfs the Western world. It’s either a product of the culture of the last hundred years or just the spawn of Western ifans deeming what is and isn’t relevant. And if you add in bigger awards or recognition to the mix and the hunger for this skewed kind of acknowledgement only grows.

In the context of the recent Twitter hashtag voting for the Bulletproof Boyscouts at the BBMA’s, there were a number of ARMYs, and even non-fans, that tried to make it about K-Pop as a whole. The general argument goes along the lines of “a vote for BTS is a vote for K-Pop, we can prevail against the Western celebs ehehuhehuheh.” It’s a nice sentiment, if you disregard all logic and assume that the two have to be wholly separate. As an American who listens to both K-Pop and Western music in equal parts this strange ultimatum only leaves me asking: “Why?” And also, “How?” How is this a battle against the West, when it’s for Western recognition? If fans really wanted K-Pop artists to be treated as equals alongside these other artists they wouldn’t make the distinction so black and white.

I mean, I’m all for Twitter awards. Social media presence, awesome. ARMYs should be proud that BTS is the first K-Pop group to be nominated for a Billboard award, ever. If they win, they will not only be the first K-Pop artist to ever win Billboard’s Top Social Artist award, they will be the only artist to win other than Justin Bieber since the award’s conception in 2011. It’s just the discussion and hype around the BBMAs in the K-Pop community that is somewhat puzzling to me given that the same treatment is rarely given to awards within South Korea or outside it. Hell, even the Korean Music Awards, which is likely the most legitimate and qualitative award ceremony for artists in South Korea, was less talked about. But then again, even MAMA’s relevancy in the international K-Pop fandom squarely beats the KMA’s.

I don’t mean this to point fingers at ARMYs because pretty much every K-Pop fandom that gets thrown a bone from a Western celebrity or media outlet thrives off the attention. And BTS really is inarguably one of the most popular K-Pop groups in the West right now. But it’s just a little food for thought about how we as ifans prioritize which recognition is most meaningful, and the Western-centric views that obviously are still present in parts of the world, even in the petty fandom wars of K-Pop.


I am going to be very frank here. Do I think that western validation is important? Short answer: no! Long answer: still no! Some of the biggest K-Pop acts in history (H.O.T, g.o.d, TVXQ, Super Junior, Kara, Fink-L, SES, and so on) did not get any western validation whatsoever. This did not stop them from creating a huge impact on the Korean music industry and until today, they are considered legends. What matters most is creating enough impact in one’s home country. Getting fame in the west is a good thing as it means more chances of success, but I am afraid that some K-Pop fans overstate K-Pop’s reach to the masses.

Some K-Pop groups do manage to gain decently sized fandoms in the West (groups like Big Bang, 2NE1, etc.) and some even get awards from western shows, but they are still irrelevant to the general public as a whole. And even then, these groups are considered to be legends because of contributions they made to their home country, not some distant market abroad. SNSD was already the Nation’s Girl Group when they won Video of The Year at the YouTube Music Awards. Even then, there was no skyrocketing in fame. They got a few hate comments from non-K-Pop fans but that was it; people forgot about the whole thing just as quickly and moved one. Same thing with Super Junior and the Teens Choice Awards. The general public does not actually care for K-Pop, even when these idols win awards over major western artists.

You see, K-Pop is nothing more than a niche here. You will probably find someone who is a fan of an idol but this is one person in millions. People also like to ignore the fact that the western music scene is just as fickle as the Korean one. People come and go, they rise and fall. Artists who were popular a few years ago aren’t as popular now. K-Pop acts will have a hard time breaking out here because 1) There is still racism, whether one likes it or not, and 2) They do not speak the primary language and language barrier can really dampen one’s success. PSY had the massive hit that was ‘Gangnam Style’ but he has failed to retain any relevance with his subsequent releases and has faded to obscurity. And while he may want to replicate his success with the song, he may not be too worried as he continues to do very well in his home country.

In light of BTS’ nomination at the Billboard Awards, I do remain skeptical. As a closeted ARMY K-Pop fan, I do feel proud. But this nomination does not mean that BTS will actually gain relevance here, especially when one considers the fact that this is a nomination for a social media award (one that is generally not that important). Gone are the days when the western public would fawn over dancing boy bands that were crooning love songs. As someone who lives in the States, I can attest to the fact that no one here really cares for the BBMA and so K-Pop fans should lower their expectations. Harsh, but true.


Western validation is not the biggest mountain that an idol group needs to climb. Yes, for the likes of Big Bang, Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls and PSY, they’ve all gained recognition in the Western music industry. Yet, many other groups have not gone close to getting it. Certainly, one Billboard nomination for BTS is a fantastic achievement and will put their name out there. But, they’ve still got some work to do if they want to be the first group that comes to mind in Western countries when K-Pop is mentioned.

The majority of Western media outlets treat K-Pop as a niche market where it is quirky and cool to see an idol visit a Western country. K-Pop acts don’t stack up against global superstars like Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Adele and Ed Sheeran but they obviously still have strong enough fanbases to tour the world. Overall, the success of an idol is not solely dependent on whether they’ve got validation in the Western music industry or not.


This issue is such an unbelievably touchy one — even more than it ought to be — because so many K-Pop fans just can’t seem to take a step back as soon as they’ve crossed a line. We all want only great things for our favourite groups, that it’s all too easy to be wrapped in our own pride. Even if it’s at the cost of so much needless resentment.

But the root of the problem here isn’t the fans, or the cruel way that everyone has been treating each other on social networking sites. Daesangs aren’t treated with the same level of prestige by a great number of ifans for a whole other set of reasons. One of which is that the Western music industry is so massive, with such a highly developed global outreach and market, that it’s easy to see why both K-Pop labels and fans hope for Western relevance or validation. It’s The American Dream.

South Korea’s domestic accolades thus seem to fall into the shadow of awards from the West, which isn’t right. In fact, this is precisely what’s wrong with the South Korean music industry. Their growth is so hinged on Hallyu (or the Korean Wave) that, while it is impressive, is also incredibly fragile. Multiple South Korean acts failed to break into the Western industry, but Korean entertainment firms turned to China (yet another can of worms), and were met with some success. Even now, South Korean’s entertainment industry is still intricately tied with Chinese investment. China’s response to THAAD could still deal far more blows to South Korea as a whole, and the latter’s music industry has also been affected. And yet, Korean music labels and fans still desire the same kind of symbiotic relationship with the West, a market that is just as fickle as China, if not more so. Even much of their content, trends, and packaging increasingly reflect their growing Western influence.

That said, any sort of success ought to be congratulated, regardless of the relevance of the award. That includes South Korean’s domestic awards as well as other international awards, minor or major.


My first question to those who constantly seek Western validation would simply be: “Why?” It’s nice, of course, to see artists you admire receive the love and recognition they deserve, but why the West? And why is it so important to you?

BTS is among my favourite groups but some of the emotionally manipulative posts urging people to vote for them in the BBMAs are baffling to me. Among them are posts asserting that if we aren’t voting for BTS we’re anti-Asian, racist, contributing to white supremacy… the list of sins goes on. Apart from being blatantly wrong, I would argue that even if BTS win (which they most likely will), even if Ed Sheeran and Nicki Minaj meet them and declare themselves Armys, their status in America won’t change much, K-Pop’s status in the West won’t change much, and white supremacy, I’m sorry to say, will remain fully intact.

I would love to be proven wrong but I don’t think K-Pop will be anything more than a niche in the Western market, at least in this age. Do you think so many Asian-American artists would turn to the Korean market if they had a chance to make it big back home? How many Asian-American popstars do you know who are successful in the West? And BTS, and other K-Pop acts, have the extra challenge of not performing songs in English, barely being able to speak the language, and a number of other cultural barriers. Most English speakers can’t even be bothered to watch movies with subtitles and are perplexed if you tell them you listen to music in a language you don’t understand.

PSY, arguably the most well-known K-Pop act in the Western mainstream, was able to become mainstream because he was treated as a joke. Despite being an accomplished and seasoned artist, to the West “Gangnam Style” and PSY himself were reduced to a novelty and a curiosity, something to be laughed at and parodied. And I believe that’s the extent of mainstream Western recognition on any significant scale. BTS maybe trendy for a while, Western artists might give them shout-outs and the odd collaboration, and they’ll gain some fans who’ll stick around. However, there’s a reason K-Pop companies focus on the Korean market, despite the West being more lucrative and massive by far, and it’s because outside a few futile pipe dreams (I’m looking at you, JYP) they know it won’t be a stable and sustaining source.

In conclusion, it’s not K-Pop that falls short of the West, but the West that falls short of K-Pop. Our countries are too racist, too closed off to fully embrace and appreciate artists of different cultures in a way which is respectful and deserved. Perhaps one day the West will be ready to welcome K-Pop with open arms but that day is, in the words of BTS, not today.

Well that’s it for our thoughts on K-Pop in the Western world, but what are yours? Share with us below!


If there’s a Baekhyun, there’s a way.

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  • satoori

    CEO Bang PD: “I think the recognition received by KPOP artist from US mainstream market for their one genre due to the increase in the scale of KPOP market is different from making an official debut in the US market to compete against mainstream singers, the starting points of these two situations are extremely different.”
    “BTS has their strength as KPOP artist and I believe they reached where they’re today by maximizing this point so we plan to continue focusing on their growth as KPOP artist. We’d be grateful when BTS is able to enter the US mainstream chart if the attention they receive now doesn’t end here but I think it’s overreaching for us to officially prepare for overseas expansion.” https://onehallyu.com/topic/421936-article-161103-bang-sihyuk-pd-bts-is-kpop-singer-advancing-to-the-us-is-overreaching/

    Honestly many fans do not expect BTS to break into the Western industry. However, for any artist recognition and exposure is always relevant. More importantly, BTS international success is helping them gain some attention and recognition in Korea. I agree with Mogwai, any sort of success should be congratulated.

    • Mogwai

      Hey, Satoori. It’s good to see you here. I do remember that one response by Big Hit’s CEO, it was a pretty good one. Makes me think of back when YG made a statement about CL trying to make it in the West before. I love CL, but that went on the very long list of the terrible things YG has said.

      You’re right about exposure. In fact, your point about how BTS needed international success to gain attention in Korea further strengthened my point about the South Korean music industry’s weaknesses in a way. It’s too reliant on the advent of Hallyu. Korean entertainment companies in general (including the big three) still need to properly harness their own domestic market, similar to how Japan rose to being the second largest music market in the world.

  • “…and yet salivate when a D-list celebrity…”

    I can’t read anymore. Don’t you hear about “journalist ethics”? It sounds like some D-list journalists’ sentence. Or have some trolls of OH decided to retrain into D-list writers?

    Thanks to goodness not all people are close minded like you. Otherwise we wouldn’t have Toyota or Hyundae, Sony or Samsung on the west. They immediately would be blamed in “seeking western validation”.

    Cos it’s not “seeking western validation”. It’s an expansion of the market. It’s an extension of audience. It’s making your name worldwide, cos american music market is the biggest in the world. And if you still don’t know it, then i just wonder how you got the chance to be OH!Press staff, having neither idea nor greater vision about it.

    Yep, and actually, in 21st century, when the whole world tends to merge in something global, it’s somehow ridiculous to divide the world into East and West, North and South. Do you really think the same when you use iPhone or drive BMW? Did you write the same when Samsung tried it in the West competing with Apple’s iPhone?

    P.S. Somehow OH forgot to claim that K-pop is also Japan-centric ))))) Except Korea, Japan is the only country where K-pop stars release albums/singles. And in Japanese. But wow!!! No one is complaining!

    And you forgot about that German Award: “2017 daf BAMA Music Awards”. Where a lot of your faves were nominated. Or is not Europe considered as West anymore?

    P.P.S. “As a closeted ARMY K-Pop fan” ??? Like really? If you were real ARMY you should know that BTS aren’t “crooning love songs” at all.

    And you should know “Bulletproof Boyscouts” is not their official name. They are BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan. But not “Bulletproof Boyscouts”. Before blaming Armys for being western-centric, stop using those awkward western interpretations/translations. Why don’t you use their real name or acronym? To mock them? Yeah, you’re sure “Army”.

    • Chloe Hill

      I don’t know who you are but… you have my respect because I’m actually is an ARMY and felt quite pissed off when the person said that way ’bout BTS and our fandom

    • 👏👏👏👏👏 l

  • And i find it tragic that OH!Press follows Allkpop’s footsteps to “seek for attention”. I don’t get why Kpop needs one more Allkpop or Koreaboo. Or are trying to beat them in terms of being “scandalous”? DigitalMusicNews’ tactic is not suitable for you. At least, DMN don’t give a fuck about Kpop, so it’s somehow understandable when they bash Kpop. But you’re actually Kpop press.

    And, I can’t get why you don’t want Kpop expansion to global audience and just want keep it as your “little dirty secret”. Accordıng to your “dancing guys crooning love song” it seems like you’re ashamed of being Kpopper )))))

  • zaiga dadzitee

    love it how instead of article being about kpop, its mainly made to shade BTS and their fans.
    some high class slaties you guys are.
    seems like you dont know what market expansion, global market or global exposure means.
    of course, it’s only bad because it is BTS and not other groups (very clearly seen by how you’ve written your artice).

    • Jack

      Well since the topic arose due to the bbmas, it would make sense they mention BTS a lot, no? I don’t think that this is necessarily about market expansion, which is a whole other discussion as it is about international (mainly western) kpop fans hyping up very insignificant moments where a group gets recognition by some random Americans and constantly talking about how x group broke the western market, which to be honest no kpop group did or ever will because it just isn’t realistic. The desire for western recognition for kpop is a very backwards thing

  • Heya

    I expected nothing from SMHallyu’s Blog. I honestly would’ve applied if I didn’t have a lot to sort out in real life. The topics for these things have been hilariously transparent to the defending of Big 3 artists from the rightful perception of them being more privileged by brand power, to this. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a write up on this topic based on the fact that a few fans in the midst of a fanwar degraded your faves’ precious double digit daesang wins. The salt is palpable. Though I expect nothing else. The undercurrent to what is written here is painfully obvious and I hope you keep seething. Also Aoki, I usually don’t agree with what you say but go off.

  • Nova

    They want to go and see their idols and we are voting because we are their fans and we want to help them. That’s it. Now read this 3 times a day and you will understand. Hopefully.

  • KTH

    welp this article reeks of ignorance

  • DaeSan

    In summary:

    “My favs aren’t a part of this award event, so we’re writing an article with false generalisations, belittling and slander, we’re marginalising K-pop and globalisation, despite the fact that it’s the reason we’re here and of some importance.

    P.s. Don’t mention our favs being nominated in Germany, because lolololol Europe is no longer a part of the “West” because our favs are nominated over there.

  • Mmmhmm

    It’s fascinating that you all basically have the same opinion, talk only about America (and no other western markets), ignore the fact that korean acts regularly attempt to break into many markets (Japanese debuts are a regular thing), and focus SOLELY on BTS rather than the countless groups that have actually *tried* to debut in the US and failed. This entire article wreaks of bias and ignorance, and I’m honestly disappointed that OH staff wrote something as terrible as this. What a waste of bandwidth.

    A few fans hoping people would vote for BTS is “emotionally manipulative?” Please. Where were these ‘articles’ when other groups were nominated at the MTV EMAs or the Kid’s Choice awards (also … western) wherein those fandoms did the same?

    ‘As someone who lives in the States, I can attest to the fact that no one here really cares for the BBMA ” <— congrats on speaking behalf of the entire United States of America.

    I feel like you are all projecting. Why is it that there is some belief that fans of BTS value the BBMA more than an award in their country? Did you all black out when BTS won their first daesang and the fandom went absolutely bananas? Or the coordinated voting efforts for MAMA?


  • Ann

    This could have been such an interesting topic to discuss but this is just disappointing.
    Mogwai was the only one who brought up some interesting points. The rest? Ignorant and uninformed.

    Hmm let’s see:
    Writer no.1: Exo-l
    Writer no.2: Exo-l
    Writer no.3: Exo-l

    Ah well now it makes sense.
    So embarrassing.
    So pressed.
    So salty.
    So transparent.

  • Smh

    Rather than this being taken seriously, it’s a JOKE. Congratulations on your mediocre article. I hope next time before publishing an article like this everyone can put their brains together and think a little.

  • Chloe Hill

    Well this is clearly just being biased because it’s clearly ceneters around BTS. The reasons why most of you people call “useless” is ain’t so useless to our, ARMYs, eyes.Why? It’s because the reason why ARMYs do this kind of thing is not to make BTS the most popular K-Pop group and earn the West’s recognition but to make them, BTS, to feel that more people are listening to their music because that’s all they wanted. They don’t want fame or money, they said they just want people to hear their music and clearly western music is the most heard and one way for BTS to be heard more is to make them recognize and for the West to actually think even just a little bit that it’s not all about them. This is the reason why ARMYs do this to make them feel their music is heard and make them happy.

    FYI if you want to make an article when the title is about K-Pop don’t surround them to BTS it’s plain obvious that you guys are just trying to bring them down and not to say that West recognition is important.

  • My favourite group is BTS so leave the “salty” comments at the door lmao. Can’t speak for anyone else but I wrote about them because they are the most relevant example right now and also the ones I know best.

    I don’t think voting for them in the BBMAs = seeking western validation and I never said that. And being a fan I saw a lot of stupid and ignorant tweets trying to get people to vote by acting like it was part of the fight against global white supremacy. They are a small minority but that’s who I was referring to. Throughout this whole thing I was referring to the minority who value western validation above all else. Does that mean you can’t want recognition from industry professionals and leaders in their field, in the west and wherever else? If that’s the case then you can say I’m seeking western validation too because I also want that for BTS.

    And really, why mention examples of groups trying to do this years ago when BTS is literally doing this right now? I understand why people might think so especially when you think none of us are fans but not everything is an attack.

    As for it being US-centric, well the world is US centric like it or not and they are The market to break into. I’m from Europe but BTS don’t even tour there, why would I mention it?

    Anyway a lot of these responses are nonsensical and reactionary tbh but for anyone who didn’t bother reading properly when I said they were one of my favourite groups here you are.

    I don’t really care if you disagree with what I said but don’t think it doesn’t come from someone who hasn’t supported and loved BTS for years and doesn’t wish them every success in the world.

    • Heya

      Your insistence on putting a magnifying glass on the minority is ridiculous, fan or not. Most of the focus of your piece was that. If it is just a minority as you said, why in the world is it more relevant than the more prevalent attitude of fans merely excited about their faves doing well (a descriptor that means nothing don’t worry. I am not overrating anything. I can’t find a word that is suitable for everyone enough that someone doesn’t jump on me for “overrating muh favz”) in an incredibly hard to tap into market, or even the attitude of the company that has not expressed interest in any full scale Western market focus and is just thrilled at the organic response. The rest about the american music market I mostly agree with but also, it’s considerably redundant and unnecessary, especially if like you said you were merely responding to the minority… for whatever reason. A thirst for western validation has never been a thing but people keep wanting to make it one and I for one am done with made up fallacies fuelled a small vocal minority and the consequences of a verbally vicious fanwar being used and exacerbated to effect so as to paint a broader picture far from reality. This piece especially the first section read like an “attack” sorry to say. And if the focus is BTS because they are the ones that “doing it now”, the title probably should’ve reflected that.

      • Every OH! Press Talk article is reflective of current issues. It’s an opinion piece for us to put our thoughts out into.

        The reason why some members of the team discuss BTS is because that’s the most recent occasion, and since it’s an opinion piece the comments are independent of one another. We don’t have a title reflective of a specific group because we want the chance to talk about anything.

        Regardless of whatever response you’ve put up there has always been a need to prove ourselves as fans to the Western market. That’s why Girls’ Generation won the YouTube Music Video Award. That’s why there’s been a push for BTS.

        However, I thank you for commenting. We want a discussion and none of us are claiming we’re right or unbiased. It’s also not an attack on a fandom, just observations.

        • Mmmhmm

          “We don’t have a title reflective of a specific group because we want the chance to talk about anything.”

          then whoever edited the article and put it together should have changed the title since it doesn’t actually address the title or asked different members of the staff to give varying opinions. Or – shock – contact some OH ARMY to ask their opinion on all of this since the whole article is really just about the BBMA nom. That would actually encourage discussion. This just reads as the same opinion posed in varying degrees of shade. So, what’s the point? I can go to the BT if I want to read this type of stuff. It’s 90% of what is posted there anyway.

          • We ask members of our team to give their opinions on certain topics. We don’t explicitly tell them please change your opinion, because it’s the same as everyone else’s, because then it wouldn’t be their opinion.

          • Mmmhmm

            Well, I cannot reply to you for some reason, Alisonn. But my point isn’t “make them change their opinions!!!” My point is this is the same thing said over and over again. What you could have done instead is – ‘we want to write about western validation and how dumb it is that kpop fans NEED it!!!’ Here, writer A – can you talk about BTS and the BBMAs. Writer B – can you write about CL and Lifted. Writer C – how about the English language releases from these groups. Writer D – write about groups that have weirdly broken in despite not targeting, etc.

            Delegate areas of interest that are germane to the actual topic. If you are doing a group piece like this, then actually coordinate it. Because this is sloppy and there is no point in having 6 different people make the same point. You could have combined it all into one article.

          • Again, the topic for OH!Press Talk is decided from overviewing current issues. Hence BTS and the BBMAs is on the minds of many of the writers. When deciding the topic, we ask for our team members to present their opinions, without boundaries, whilst not over stepping legal limitations. Hence we do not assign them topics to discuss.
            This is one article, so I’m not exactly sure what point you’re trying to make. But this is a stern reminder. The blog compromises of our team’s passion in writing. Whilst we appreciate every reader and the opinions of those who have a logical approach in their criticism, what is published on this blog is our discretion. No day in the near future will the contents on this blog be dictated by the readers or any particular fandom. Be it EXO-L’s, Army’s or others.

          • Mmmhmm

            Your response to me is kinda ridiculous. ” No day in the near future will the contents on this blog be dictated by the readers or any particular fandom. Be it EXO-L’s, Army’s or others.” How dramatic. I made a recommendation as a consumer of writing that the title of the article has nothing to do with the actual text. If you want to write an article about BTS, then the paragraph intro should just say that. In fact, my comment specifically says I am not trying to dictate what your opinion should be. That’s ridiculous. But as an editorial choice and article it has failed. Hence, my constructive criticism about what you may consider to do in future when pursuing a group topic in this manner.

            I’m not sure why you keep suggesting I am dictating what you should write about based on my fandom?? I think you’re reading into what I’m saying a lot.

            and “overstepping legal limitations” ? what. And thank you for you “stern reminder.” Not sure what the hell you mean.

        • Heya

          Then you must realise how the start of the article doesn’t fit with the content? There is an incredibly narrow and in my opinion shallow representation of kpop acts in the west via mostly just one group’s feats in the US, barely any proper discourse on actual artists seeking western fame and some “these pesky annoying fans” type of sentiments underlying it as the meat of this article. BTS would definitely come up as a topic of conversation and it is topically relevant however, if the idea is to allocate a broader subject matter so writers can write freely, surely they should’ve gone beyond just BTS instead of just a superficially disguised “Let me explain why the BBMAs are irrelevant”.

          As to what you’ve said about validation…you’re looking at us from the outside basing your opinions as an outsider. SNSD/kpop fans responses were what they were at the time and are not reflective of Army right now purely by essence of it being a similar event. There is nothing to prove to anyone when everything they have achieved has been organic.

          I don’t believe OHPress as an institution intended on “attacking” anyone rest assured. It’s on the specific writers, some of whom are using emotionally fuelled arguments based on hyperbole, a vocal minority and a vicious fan war to create incredibly inaccurate arguments.

      • I focused on the minority because they were the ones who fit the title. I wasn’t trying to generalise armys or start stuff but I see how it came off that way.

        The “redundant” stuff wasn’t about bts, I don’t know why people are angry about that, when it’s just a very brief opinion on my general thoughts on kpop and the us market as it currently stands? Maybe not strictly relevant to western validation but something to think about.

        • If it is current you can add other groups too like KARD or CL. I know people are focusing Bangtan the thing is most ARMY doesnt feelings doesn’t even reflect the article or what BangPD has said. Instead I believe it is better since they make way for kpop groups without actually debuting or release english songs. Like Aoki said it is more of espansion of market, the hallyu wave. It happen in Japan, China before, so it mght happen in the western. As a kpop fan any sort of hallyu wave should be welcome. Idk the article doesn’t sit well with me since the title i about kpop but then only BTS is highlighted and as if the others never tried or the people cureently never tried, Even EXO is on iHeart radio, and this happens only after IHeart radio notices kpop after ARMY promoting BTS song to the radios in US. Maybe kpop will never be mainstream but at least BTS is making an expansion of the current halyyu wave.

  • Lui

    There has been many western acts trying to make it in the west before. (SNSD performing at America late night shows and 2NE1 being featured in american songs). Was this so heavily criticized by K-pop fans too?

    • no, they weren’t. cos all of them are from Big-3. and Big-3 is something sacral. they can’t be criticized or questioned.

      • Yes, SNSD’s, the Wonder Girl’s, 2NE1’s and CL’s American endeavours and ‘advancements’ were highly critiqued by Western K-pop fans. Being from the Big 3 is not a miracle formula that makes all fans suddenly not sceptical about a very apparent situation.

        • There so many, many things wrong with what was written but I’ll highlight the most glaring. The problem is all of you “critics” making BTS the poster child for seeking Western validation and their fandom slavering over it, when that’s completely false. The entire “article” was about BTS, the BBMAs and ARMY, you even put their picture on the banner and yet titled it “Seeking Western Validation in Kpop”. I didn’t know BTS and ARMY made up all of kpop, that’s news to me. And how are BTS seeking Western validation? That’s a complete fallacy. Everything that’s happened to them from and international or Western standpoint has happened organically. They haven’t done a single thing to specifically target the Western market nor do they have any plans to. Did anyone read the recent interview from their company CEO or their opinions on the subject? Was that not pertinent? Was there any research done to sound out and flesh out your opinions or were you all just going off rehashed bullshit that circles around the bashing thread and the dregs of Twitter? Was there an editor who actually made cohesive sense of this or was this done completely willy-nilly? (I’m assuming the later, if not you’re editor needs to be fired).

          You all completely missed or ignored the artists who’ve actually targeted the Western market (artists who’ve done so recently might I add) or completely changed their sound to parallel Western taste, and yet BTS doing well on a chart and getting a nomination and an invitation and fans being excited about it is somehow now equated to seeking Western validation? When have ARMY not been excited for a BTS achievement, regardless of what it is and even particularly when it happens in their own country? But now we only care about Western achievements? The entire piece is taking shots at and generalizing an entire fandom without even taking their perspective or opinion on the subject into consideration. Not only that but some of the “opinions” border on mockery. Your little pal Wasta couldn’t even bring themselves to address BTS correctly and instead blatantly choosing a known misnomer for the group.

          You also completely bypassed any and all artists who’ve targeted other markets, would that not have been an interesting addition or comparison? Basically, if you’re going to write about something you don’t know, at the very least do your homework. How do you form opinions on something you clearly know nothing about? It’s damn embarrassing and honestly I don’t know why anyone is surprised at the reaction after this complete bullshit was posted. If you’re going to fall in line with the ongoing rhetoric of targeting BTS and ARMY for everything they’re doing, that somehow magically has never been done before or was never an issue before we came along, at the very least be upfront about it and say what you’re going to say. Title the article correctly for what it is “BTS’ recent BBMA nomination and why it’s completely irrelevant”.

        • jasmine

          then why weren’t they mentioned in the article?? this whole piece reeks of sloppy journalism

  • Hexenbiest

    They only talked about BTS, cause clearly only they matter duh. They became the quintessence of kpop. If other groups, who actually made actuall effort to advance in the US would matter like BTS, the writers would clearly have mentioned them regarding this topic. But they didn’t.
    The effect of J-Hope saying he likes Tinashe, or “NamjinIZrealz” (12, California) tweeting “BTS will be the presidents of USA, if they win at the BBMA!1!!!1!!!” clearly eclipses of any actual western effort from other group.
    So why would OHPress have written about other groups beside BTS when 12 year old twitter Armys clearly have more revelance than kpop USA debuts and promos.

    As a conclusion BTS = Kpop, Kpop = BTS
    Don’t be mad at me, it was OHPress who said it.

  • Hexenbiest

    Here is my serious answer.
    You seem to totally misunderstand the western fans pushing their favs. And all these twitter battles.
    It is not about Western > Eastern or anything like that. It is about fans, Western ones, promoting their fave group to their OWN culture. Because if they fave group have enough fan in their country, more likely to go to concert to there, more likely to have a chance to meet them. Also BTS is not “doing it” right now. They are not trying to break into the US. They are singing in Korean and they organically gained a lot of western fans, who like them for who they are. That is not western-validation. Western validation would be thinking a group is no good unless they are considered so by western cultures. And it seems like you forget that the companies themself (and among them mostly big3) don’t make the kpop group with Korea in mind. They choose more and more foreign idols, promote them in other countries China, Japan, Thailand, etc… because they do care for the bigger market that promoting outside korea means. That is what hallyu is about. Spreading korean culture to other countries. Outside of Korea. And as far as I know it doesnt automaticallly exclude Western countries.

  • Tabula X

    The topic, Western validation, intrigues me in general, especially when it comes to K-pop. Therefore, I was hoping to read opinions that would offer some interesting insights or more depth, instead of it revolving around BTS’ Billboard Top Social Artist Award nomination. As some of the OH! Press Talk members mentioned, there have been many artists who tried to make it in the American music market, but it’s disappointing, to say the least, to see no elaboration on that. I understand that BTS being nominated for the BBMA is currently happening, which makes it more relevant to talk about, but writing about this event in such a disproportionate way, makes this edition undeserving of its title. In my opinion a title like ‘BTS’ Billboard Music Awards nomination: blessing or curse?’ would have suited this edition more. Seeing the title, ‘Western validation’, it would have been interesting to read the opinions of the OH! Press Talk team on Western validation in K-pop by multiple actors, such as the music industry, Korean entertainment companies, artists as well as fans, how these are different or similar between and within aforementioned actors and how that could be helpful or detrimental to music and identity in general and looking at other music markets or genres that seemingly have overcome seeking or have no need to seek Western validation e.g. Japan’s music market, Bollywood, Latin music. The only opinion somewhat delving into these aspects is Mogwai’s, which I appreciate and enjoyed reading (in fact, I would like to read more on your thoughts about this topic).

    I feel this would create more room for discussion and conversation, more depth and probably an array of different opinions (which is most interesting). I also understand that some opinions just overlap and there’s no need in altering opinions when OH! Press Talk team members agree. Then there’s the informal aspect, because it’s really not an analysis, but more the sharing of viewpoints and talk. Still, this all makes me wonder how OH! Press Talk happens. Do you come up with/send one question to all team members and ask for each member’s opinion? Or do you send one theme and add about multiple sub questions directly linked to the theme, which each team member can choose to elaborate on? For the latter, it seems like more research is needed, but it actually gives more directions and help in where to look for research and it usually gives more variety in opinions or at least, more specific and in-depth opinions which do justice to a theme, topic or subtopic (especially if it’s big, like this one). I don’t know what your method is, but I can already say I have my doubts it’s the latter. Also, it’s the task of the editor to change the title, so it fits the piece more, if you wanted it out like this.

    Now, on to my opinion on the actual content of this edition. Overall, there are some points and observations I agree with. But most of it just reads as an attempt to convince ARMYs that the BBMA is not that important based on wrong assumptions of the fandom. K-pop is indeed a very small niche, but ‘wanting it to become organically mainstream’ in the world’s biggest music market, which just happens to be the US, is NOT equal to seeking Western validation, especially when succes overseas happened gradually and naturally.

    Let me begin with saying that wanting K-pop to become organically mainstream in any music market, especially the world’s largest music markets, is a wish to share music incorporating different genres, cultures and languages through a bigger platform, because the world’s biggest music market has a larger audience worldwide. It’s also a wish to show that music knows no barriers, and that language barriers, in this day and age, with internet translations and subtitles (on even songs of Bieber, PARTYNEXTDOOR and others on Youtube), are torn down. Whether anyone in the US really cares about the BBMA, is not really important. People who like music or want to watch a good show will tune in or rewatch it anyways. For BTS, or other K-pop groups for that matter, to have the opportunity to share their music on a larger platform, doesn’t make them more or less valid. What it does is though, is give these groups the opportunity to share their music worldwide in yet another way (mind you, there’s Twitter, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and many other pay-for or free platforms which are utilized in order to share music and milestones on these platforms are celebrated just as much!). Music is made to be shared through different platforms and it gives artists the chance to reach different audiences as well as give different audiences the chance to meet a different niche they didn’t really know about or didn’t bother looking up. There’s no need for the audiences to like them, but it’s exposure and so there’s a higher chance of gaining new fans. When different or newer platforms are utilized and met with achievements, it will of course generate buzz and celebrations, especially when a group or artist is (one of) the first to do so. Then there’s also the interesting aspects of Korean groups and artists networking and collaborating with other groups and artists, sharing ideas and concepts, language and culture through music. It’s really cringe, but music connects. And while indeed, institutional racism shows itself even in the American music and entertainment industry, nominations of K-pop groups at award shows like the BBMA are at least something to celebrate even as a small stepping stone in terms of representation for Asians globally as well as Asian-Americans.
    Moreover, a critical question: why is breaking into the Japanese music market with J-pop, not met with as much criticism? Because milestones over there are certainly celebrated just as much as Japan is the second biggest music market in the world. It’s just more isolated for most of the world. Still, why is there no question: Seeking Japanese validation?

    In addition, it’s interesting how fans all over the world are able to participate in fandom culture and supporting their favorite artists locally. In this case, for international fans, in particular American and British fans, to buy and stream BTS’ music making their albums top their local music charts, shows the influence international fans have and provide other strategies for supporting their favorite artists (e.g. not being limited to buy MelOn passes to stream and buy copies of their favorite artists songs in order to support them in Korea). It makes ARMYs more engaged and it makes it possible for international ARMYs to see their artists perform in their home countries more often.

    Lastly, there’s the fact that BTS being nominated for the BBMA, has its effects on BTS’ status in Korea. The band continues to be relevant relevant overseas, especially in the US and Japan, the world’s biggest music markets, which, among others, has made them No.1 in Boy Group Brand Reputation for seven consecutive months. All kinds of official awards BTS is nominated in, whether Korean or international, major or minor are celebrated by ARMYs. Perhaps you have forgotten how proud and amazing ARMYs were when BTS won Daesang Album of the Year at MelOn Music Awards and Daesang Artist of the Year at Mnet Asian Music Awards, as well as when BTS won Bonsang Awards at Seoul Music Awards and Golden Disk Awards. Of course it would be an extreme honor for BTS to be part of the list of nominees of the Korean Music Awards, just as much, because they do not take sales into consideration and the winners are determined by a panel of music critics and industry experts. As for the reason it is not as much talked about, is probably because: a)international fans are not acquainted well enough with the KMA because they have no influence on the list of nominees and award recipients, b) international fans are not are not acquainted well enough with the KMA because the live stream for it is not promoted as much and even in Korea a 2-hour special of the event is broadcast midnight and c) most international fans are simply not always fans of the groups and artists which were nominated for the KMA in the past. I am sure international fans will proudly celebrate any nomination or win from the KMA when they do, but there’s frankly just not a lot of buzz around it, which is not the fans’ responsibility, but the organizers’ responsibility. Which brings us to Mogwai’s interesting opinion on the importance of Hallyu and the way the Korean music industry is set up.

    Of course a small minority of K-pop fans and ARMY will be extra and will be seeking Western validation. Most of the time, this is just pure excitement and trolling gone wrong and sometimes, it’s just that… seeking Western validation. The questions raised by Pia are indeed valid in that case. But once again, it’s only relevant for a small minority. It would have been respectful if this was explicitly stated, especially with how most of this edition revolves around BTS’ BBMA nomination. This piece, even with its subtle disclaimers here and there, is taken mostly as shade to BTS’ milestones and ARMYs efforts, which is definitely not appreciated…. and that’s an understatement. It’s a shame really.

  • this piece sucks

    This whole piece reads like garbage taken out of the bashing thread, but passed off as “press work.” Wasta in particular doesn’t even try to hide her disdain towards BTS and ARMY. You really do look like a fool and a bitter exo-l. Onto the technical criticisms of the piece: Generally when you do a roundtable discussion, it’s worth having different opinions, even if the author themselves does not believe in it. #2 Using sweeping comments like “no one in the US cares.” You are not an authority on anything and there is no scientific basis for what you say. So avoid it. #3 Making points like “i am a closet army” looks like you’re trying justify a point but don’t want to be labelled a hater. If your argument is solid, you don’t need to appeal to anyone. But we all know you lying sansa, you’re as fake as they come. #4 There is practically no research done for this piece. If you want to make a particular group the point of discussion, research about them. On top of that there is a lack of variety. Where is the discussion about CL? JYP? #5 this article tackles a big subject but the commenters narrowed it down to hone their ire at a particular fandom and group. Only Mogwai presents an opinion that skims the scope of this piece. I can’t believe this is passed off as “press.” But you’ll probably get kudos from the ones that reside in the bashing thread so don’t feel too bad.

  • Aki

    Ok, my curiousity got the better of me, so I came here. And boy do I regret it.

    This is less an editorial and more like a rant post. One that is off point, clearly biased and quite ignorant. It’s more than enough to warrant embarrassment on your part as “writers”. Out of all of you, only Mogwai presented a valid case in a concise and disciplined manner. I’m not going to go through all the things that is wrong with this article since most of the commenters have already pointed it out.

    Try harder next time please, and maybe have Mogwai edit your future posts so you all don’t sound sloppy and incoherent.

  • Goaty

    Great thoughts on this, especially from Wasta who made me realize that none of the legendary k-pop idols had much interactions with the western fans (though it didn’t deteriorate their fame in any way). That makes me wonder if k-pop acts today are failing because they are trying too desperately to get the attention of international fans. Bangtan has no international members and even the album that got them famous (HYYH Pt. 1) was heavily influenced by East Asian music. Even their jokes and personalities are not necessarily relatable to international fans as well. A contrast of that to 1PUNCH, a k-pop duo that relied greatly on appropriating black culture and hip hop music to gear towards a wider audience. They ultimately failed and disbanded after only 8 months.

    Even if that wasn’t necessarily a good example, I’m starting to understand the whole gimmick of the Hallyu wave: it’s a niche community. For k-pop to get recognition and mainstream appreciation by the western public, the concept of being part of something special will ultimately disappear. I highly doubt that many international k-pop fans will seek interest in this genre anymore and probably skip to the next niche music fad (probably j-pop or c-pop if it starts to suit k-pop fans’ tastes by that time). Even though I also highly doubt k-pop will ever get that popularization, even theoretically it would be just another fad (or possibly completely ruin the industry).

  • K-pop has only been around for around 20-something years. I don’t think anyone should expect advancement at the level of Top 40 American artists so quickly, but to belittle the strides that BTS has made is really insulting to them and their fans. Especially considering that they’re not from a Big 3 company, they’ve really made a big impact on the industry. They changed the game through their unconventional route to success. And if your idea of Western success is a K-pop group winning a Grammy or something, then of course everything else is going to seem irrelevant to you. But honestly, even smaller awards/concerts/performances/etc. in the U.S. are only a single spot of the bigger picture. And even if they never get the “validation”, it’s definitely still helping their fame in Korea.

  • Wasta’s part is truly tragic. Most of it is, but that one in particular. If that had been posted in the forum you could get it locked for stirring shit, but she can put this up on a blog because she has a fancy banner.

    • Heya

      The good sis Wasta has always been passive aggressive. This is really tragic and honestly what’s more glaring to me and what I want to criticise even more is how horribly put together this is. I just helped as a contributor to my school paper in high school and even with that juvenile and limited experience I know that opinion pieces like these that require the perspectives of many writers need to show depth. Different perspectives need to be demonstrated if only for arguments sake. There needs to be a demonstration of a knowledge of any counterarguments that could disrupt the ones you are presenting -this comments section demonstrates that they exist. Another writer said they couldn’t change their opinions but no one said they had to. Providing a counterargument to your own to properly address the topic isn’t changing your opinion and if you can’t do that, this was better off written by one writer as a whole as a one-sided opinion piece. Maybe that would mean they’d have to extrapolate some more and not just provide some surface level superficial platitudes based on a past that doesn’t apply to the group they’ve chosen to focus on. I’ve already expressed earlier how none of the writers properly addressed the title either. People are always going on about “ARMYZ think kpop= BTS” which makes this whole thing rather ironic.

      One would think writers for a blog connected to one of the biggest Asian entertainment forums would have more depth to add than the average joe in the bashing thread trying to pass off their salty surface level “observations” as enlightened @ Wasta. I was going to post this on OH but the thread was wrongly deleted so I decided to come back here.

  • I can’t believe this. Are you really asking why we want our faves to have a place in the western market? Maybe because we want them to have concerts, fanmeetings and promotions in Europe/America too, since we LIVE HERE?? Having more recognition means worldwide tours and chances for international fans to actually see them and enjoy their music live! Of course we also want them to get recognition from many people, but by supporting them in the western market, we’re also supporting our chances to finally have them in our countries too! Of course we want that, why souldn’t we?

  • its usually the fans seeking western validation more than the group (minus CL). i think its cuz they want to prove to the world that they aren’t obsessed with some weird niche and aren’t part of a weeby cult and their oppas have equal standing with the likes of Justin Bieber or whatever. but then again they also mock american singers for being inferior. its a complex inferiority complex these weebs got

  • This article would be interesting if it wasn’t so biased lmao. Even though I don’t mind the BBMA’s since I’m not in the fandom (and I wonder why certain fandoms bother to talk about it all day – or should I say downgrade?), I can tell that most kpop fans want their faves to be acknowledged in in the “West” because that’s where they can have the most impact.

    As international fans, everything is harder for us when it comes to supporting Asian artists (not only talking about kpop btw). The costs are higher and higher, the distance doesn’t allow frequent opportunities to go there and see the said artists live, and most things that can raise or drop a group are decided by koreans. It’s not as if we disregard the korean public’s support – they are important as hell, why do you think Highlight always wins without much trouble every comeback even though most new hardcore fans have their faves up against them and end up losing? Korean recognition is the most important thing for a kpop artist.

    However, what do you expect fans to do? Sit and wait for their fave groups to be disbanded for lack of money/fans/support? This is why intl fans of kpop don’t hesitate to buy physical albums (which is not a common culture in the West for western artists). It’s because it’s the best way to make sure money is gonna go for your artist’s pocket. You can’t help much with wins since they rely mostly on charts like Melon, but it helps a lot in year-end awards, and Album of the Year awards are extremely relevant as well. The fans that can’t do much want to do the max to help, but it’s harder when they’re so far away and everything is pricey.

    When western awards happen, international fans have more power over who wins or loses, they can actually make a difference. So the more your artist becomes popular = the more chances they can go to western countries more often = things are more accessible and you have more people to talk about the things you like. Exposure is always good, and I think the BBMAs are a good opportunity for BTS. I don’t get why everyone is so pressed about ARMYs feeling proud and wanting them to get more western praise. It’s clear that this gives them benefits, since BTS constantly makes world tours because of said support.

  • myownlilbubble

    Can I suggest that the ohpress staff add a tag “Op-ed” or “opinion editorial”? Maybe include it in the title as a prefix? For example, [OP-Ed] JYP’s plastic pants meme need to be ban FOREVER from OH. Maybe as a catch-all, even though some readers would still be offended no matter what kind of future write ups. At least these types of write ups would be seen as abit more impartial? Like it’s more reflective on the opinion of the writers as individuals and does not reflect on the official standpoint of OHPress as a whole institution. OR even add a little disclaimer prior to any such OP-EDs to further reiterate Ohpress impartiality on such OP-EDs. From where I am standing, all the writers’ opinion pieces seemed to be echoing the same tune. Even as I believed there was no malice intended. Same tune. Just in variant forms. I did enjoy reading this particular piece as I had the same qualms since WG’s US debut. *Side-eyeing JYP and JYPe* Cheer up guys!

    • Rinne

      Thank you for your constructive suggestions 🙂

      I can see that the tags OP-ED and Editorial might confused fellow readers. OP-ED is meant for one writer while Editorial is meant for the team. In this case, it’s a bit of both but more to OP-ED.

      OH! Press Talk in general is a group editorial created to discuss arising or current issues that are brought up by K-Pop community, usually international. For example for previous editions, we used T-ara, the Big 3, Mamamoo, DIA and Red Velvet, and as for this one, BTS. Those are all recent examples that we can use as focal point in discussions. Not all writers however will participate in writing one because of real life responsibilities and time constraints so each series has its own flavor and sometimes we have conflicting opinions.

      Usually when our writers are preparing a draft for this, each one of them will prepare their own writings separately, and you might realize that the article does not flow like an actual editorial because of the bit parts.

      I’m glad that you understand current predicament because it can be infectious and cloudy, just like SNS. So audience might jump into unwanted conclusion.

      and yes, malicious contents are not allowed on this blog and OH! Blog only releases original contents. Each writer has own expertise in certain areas and surely they are not picked just for the sake of having more writers.

      We will take your suggestion dearly and try to improve the column as we provide more and more quality contents.


      ~Press Coordinator~

  • Hinny

    Someone just shared this on my timeline and I had just a good laugh once again. Oh dear, so does “Japanese validation”, “Chinese validation” exist cause I see y’all hyping it up so much.
    “I don’t mean this to point fingers at ARMYs because pretty much every K-Pop fandom that gets thrown a bone from a Western celebrity or media outlet thrives off the attention.”
    So is it how journalists work nowadays?
    Only Mogwai seems to have a sense of “dream”, the rest seems to hope Kpop forever to stay as a niche (unless it’s their faves).
    The OH Bashing thread at least they straight up bashing, but in here, it’s just pathetic.