Is Country Music the Future of K-pop?

I’m not a huge fan of K-pop, and I definitely don’t like country music.  Put them together, however, and you have a more bizarre marriage than Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart – a marriage I’ll gladly watch.

Don’t believe me?  You will.  Even if you don’t like K-Pop or country music, you will watch this video from start to finish.  Hey Strollers, when are you guys going to cover this video?

The video isn’t that country.  They added a banjo, line dancing, a pig, a chicken, a farm, and western clothing to what is essentially a K-pop video.  Also, they must think sweeping the floor is an act of country music.  It’s an obvious attempt by 2Yoon to differentiate themselves from a very competitive industry.  K-Pop is so formulaic, however, that this move is brilliant.  In fact, I felt a greater seismic shift from this music video than any underground explosions from the anxious neighbors to the North.

According to Time Entertainment, Gayoon and Jiyoon of 2Yoon ( I get it – 2 Yoons) listened to Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift before recording their new album.  They felt something was missing in their previous group (4minute) and they think they found it when listening to country music.  They believed the new sound would appeal to K-Pop fans and they were attracted to the relaxed and laid back style of country music.  Korea is a very stressed nation that functions on a bali, bali ( hurry, hurry) mentality.  From an uber-competitive education system to an uber-competitive job market, many Koreans worry that the obsession to get ahead is reducing the quality of life (Korea’s Stressed Masses).  2Yoon may have stumbled upon something musically that reflects and drives this desire for cultural change.


K-pop, part of the Hallyu Wave, is a worldwide phenomenon.  The West may be fully aware of PSY, but if any person watches reaction videos to K-pop releases ( a new guilty pleasure of mind), it’s obvious that K-pop has a much stronger following in the West than indicated by the media.

While K-pop is more like Bruce Banner in the West, K-Pop is the Hulk in Asia.  Except, people like it when it’s angry; they like it a lot.  In Japan, it’s not uncommon to find stores that devote their inventory to promoting K-pop, and in the Philippines, K-dramas have found popularity due to their family friendly content.  Asians are so obsessed with the Hallyu Wave that many visit Korea for plastic surgery so they can look more like their favorite singers or actors.  Medical Tourism is becoming a huge boon to the economy in Korea.  Additionally, K-Pop has become one of Korea’s hottest exports generating over 3.4 billion dollars of revenue in 2011.

In Korea, K-Pop is more than just music and fashion.  As noted by the wonderful site Seoul Searching, K-Pop is challenging old notions in Korea.  K-Pop has begun to address issues such as homosexuality in Korea and the sexual liberation of women.  Personally, I was shocked when I heard the lyrics from Miss A’s “I don’t Need a Man.”  From a western perspective, those lyrics seem like common sense.  After living in Korea for two years, those lyrics are a revelation.  If a woman does not have man in Korea, she is either diseased, possessed, or hideously ugly.  The pressure to find a husband in Korea before thirty – to be a couple, can be unbearable.

Country Music

I grew up in a small town known formerly as Alligator, Florida.  As the legend goes, the name was changed because the mayor’s wife, who had recently moved to the town, refused to hang her lace curtains in a town named Alligator.  Thus, the city changed the name from Alligator to Lake City.  My point is this – I’m from a very country town.

Growing up was difficult for me.  My parents were from the North and I never clicked with the southern mentality.  The appeal of pick-up trucks, muddin, and drinking beer from red cups never appealed to me.  I never liked the sound of country music.  It felt backwards to me.  However, I appreciated my time in Lake City as I found it is easier for someone from a small town to adapt to the mentality of city life than it is for someone from a city to understand a small town mentality.

I don’t like the sound of country music, but country music is not a bad thing.  In some ways, it encompasses nature, hard work, values, family, women, and God.  It does not reject the notion that a simple and honest life is a good one.  These seemingly conservative values actually mesh well with Korean society.  As I’ve written before, Korea is a country that embraces outdoor activities and outdoor life.  It is also a very religious culture.  Finally, some Koreans are expressing the desire to slow down and appreciate life.

While the visual shock of K-Pop stars tossin chicken feed on a farm may be disarming, the values of country music and Korea aren’t such strange bedfellows.  Perhaps a little bit of country is what Korea needs.  2Yoon may be on to something.

Additional Links

The Marmot’s Hole – Thank you for sharing this video on your blog.

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