SAO PAULO – The South Korean musical group BTS, which this weekend performed in front of 84,000 people in all at two concerts here in the nation’s largest city, was all it took for thousands of young Brazilians to immerse themselves in K-Pop culture.
Beyond the concerts on successive nights at Allianz Parque Stadium, the presentations of Son RM, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga, Jin, V and Jungkook were further proof of the impact these seven young musicians are having on the new generations of South Americans.
As had already occurred in Sao Paulo with famed artists like Justin Bieber and One Direction, expectations for seeing BTS in a grand concert kept building for several months, to the point that many youths from every region and even from neighboring countries camped out for as long as 90 days to make sure they got the best seats.
Gabriela, who traveled here from Buenos Aires, told EFE that K-Pop culture entered her country with the South Korean kiddie dramas shown on TV, and now she longs for BTS or some of the other bands in the movement to visit Argentina.
Romina, a Uruguayan medical student, said that K-Pop became part of her life when she first heard a song by BTS on the radio in her dad’s car. The group, she said, also “has its visual side. Besides singing, they dance,” so they put on more of a show onstage.
But it’s not just youngsters that identify with K-Pop – 49-year-old Rocio Arguello, who traveled to Brazil from Paraguay with some 60 other people, got to know the K-Pop movement through his daughter, a fan of another South Korean band.
“K-Pop has a lot of fans in Paraguay. The biggest group is BTS. It grew and we’ve already had a festival with lesser groups,” Arguello told EFE.
The year 2018 was an absolute record for BTS, which beside its recorded hits became the first South Korean group nominated for Grammy Awards, and even without singing in English topped the Billboard list of sales in the United States.
The global impact of BTS and of the whole K-Pop culture also made it big in Brazil, a country with a large volume of Asian immigration in the last century.
The Brazilian sisters Hiromi and Miuki of Japanese descent consider that in K-Pop, “it’s all different, really diversified, a lot of new things that Americanized things don’t have nowadays,” and noted, besides the music videos and choreography, the “love that is perceived” by its followers.
For diehard fans, habitual purchasers of food, clothes, makeup and K-Pop albums, social networks have contributed to spreading the name and fame of South Korean bands, “chiefly in schools,” where hair colored and cut in the BTS style is seen all the time and every bit of news about the group is greeted with screaming enthusiasm.
The first signs of the movement appeared in 1998 and was seen by the South Korean government as “power.” After realizing that this youthful style was injecting $4.7 billion into the nation’s economy through trade, tourism and industry, it created the Culture Ministry’s K-Pop Department.
In the decade between 2007-2017, South Korea went from 30th to sixth place in the world disc market, ahead of such countries as Brazil.