At the forefront of the Korean Wave, the rising popularity of BTS propels South Korean culture into the spotlight

Who could have predicted that K-pop could contribute so much to the rising recognition of Korean culture internationally?

Ever since their debut in 2013, BTS have continuously risen up in popularity. The group first made their appearance in the United States when it became the first K-Pop group to be nominated for and win the Billboard Music Awards (BBMA). They received the award for Top Social Artist, beating other popular artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Selena Gomez. 

Furthermore, the group contributes to “Hallyu, also known as the Korean Wave. “Hallyu” is defined as the increasing global popularity of  Korean culture. It is viewed as an important asset to the Korean economy, bringing in revenue and tourists from countries all over the world. Popular Korean media such as Parasite and Squid Game also play a part in the Korean Wave. 

BTS’s immense fame has brought many benefits to South Korea’s economy. As explained by the Hyundai Research Institute, BTS brings in a substantial 5 billion dollars to the South Korean economy each year, accounting for around 0.5% of the country’s wealth.

International fans of BTS and other K-Pop groups are influenced by the global rise of Korean culture due to the K-pop groups themselves. Fans have an opportunity to learn more about a whole different culture and language than their own. 

In addition, BTS has been serving as the honorary tourism ambassadors for Seoul, South Korea, since 2017. They partnered up with the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government to create promotional videos in order to generate interest in Seoul’s tourism industry.  In these videos, the members focus on themes and introduce famous tourist attractions in the city. 

However, BTS is not just influential in their home country. With their ability to touch the hearts of overseas fans, the members of BTS are recognized as the influencers for Korean culture.

The group was awarded the fifth-class Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit at the 2018 Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards. The members became the youngest recipients in history.  This award is awarded by the president of South Korea himself,  Moon Jae-In, for people who “rendered outstanding meritorious services in the fields of culture and art in the interest of promoting the national culture and national development.”

Moreover, the group also publicly speaks about global issues that plague the world today.

In 2018, BTS became the first K-pop group to speak at the UN General Assembly. Their speech touched upon the importance of self-love. The group has constantly advocated self-love with their Love Myself campaign, a collaboration with UNICEF to end violence and promote self-love among young people all over the world.

President Moon as well-appointed the boy band as “special presidential envoys for future generations and culture” in September of 2021. BTS’s first duty as special presidential envoys was to accompany President Moon to the 76th United Nations General Assembly. The group attended the SDG Movement, an event debating Covid-19 and sustainable recovery goals.

South Korean culture continues to thrive internationally thanks to BTS’s ongoing international success. Their music captivates fans of all sorts, creating a bridge connecting Korean culture to the rest of the world.

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