South Korea’s pop industry is worth more than $3bn a year. It is driven largely by music known as “K-Pop”, which is popular across Asia and is even attracting attention in the US. With attractive artists, catchy tunes and polished dance moves, K-Pop is the number one draw-card for tourists to South Korea and generates tens of millions of export dollars.
But Korean pop stars have been subjected to tough contracts and severe restrictions on their personal lives. A growing number of legal disputes over their agencies’ harsh treament has caused the government to issue standard contracts and establish a support centre for the artists.
Punishing schedules and contracts, plus links to prostitution and corruption have revealed a dark side to the industry.
Meanwhile critics claim K-Pop is too manufactured to create mega-international stars or to sustain its future.
101 East explores South Korea’s K-Pop phenomenon and asks if it is a music revolution that is set to last. Drew Ambrose reports for Al Jazeera from Seoul.
Image above: Girl group Rania