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Korean girl groups regain popularity in Japan

Posted August. 03, 2017 07:27,   

Updated August. 03, 2017 08:32

"Everyone knows who Twice is. Mamamoo, Black Pink and Red Velvet are also gaining popularity. Tower Record at Shibuya in Tokyo is again becoming a mecca for Korean Wave," said Lee Jin-seok who works at a Japanese company on Wednesday. "An increasing number of people are seeking Korean girl groups who don't show up in Japanese TVs and become fans." Lee published a book "Otaku Evolution" last year and is living in Japan for more than three years. He says that the Korean Wave is regaining its influence.

The main driver for this is girl group Twice that officially debuted in Japan at the end of June. Shibuya 109, one of the main shopping malls in Tokyo, has Twice as its summer sale model for July, with Dentsu, Japan's largest advertisement firm that is the main sponsor for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, joining as sponsor. Shibuya 109 has the highest outdoor advertising cost in Japan. Having ranked No. 1 in Orion billboard chart immediately after debut, Twice has remained in the top Orion weekly list for more than five weeks until the first week of August.

With Twice dominating Shibuya, another Korean girl group Black Pink from YG Entertainment has started ads on buses that run between Harajuku and Shibuya. The four members of Black Pink dominate the buses' exterior. Black Pink opened its first showcase on July 20 where 200,000 people registered to attend. The Budokan Hall, which seats around 14,000 people, was full of local Black Pink fans. YG Entertainment CEO Yang Hyun-seok also joined the event. Black Pink plans to release a debut album in Japan on August 30 in both Korean and Japanese languages.

Following Boa in the 1990s, TVXQ in the 2000s and Girls' Generation and Kara in the early 2010, Japan is again welcoming Korean idol groups. This time local fans, not Korean entertainment companies, are leading the boom. Japanese TVs had boycotted Korean stars by protesting then President Lee Myung-bak's visit to the Dokdo islets in 2012. Since then, Korean Wave appeared to have been realm of a small number of mania class. However, YouTube and social media came to rescue the Korean Wave. News that Twice, which has three Japanese as members, was gaining explosive popularity in Korea, has gone viral and has spread to young Japanese people.

Japanese girl groups' fading popularity also contributed. AKB48 that debuted in 2005 and dominated the idol group market in Japan has faded in popularity with a small number of Otaku fans now preferring the group. Lee said, "AKB48's CDs are purchased by hundreds of Otakus, while Korean idol groups have pursued aggressive marketing by partnering with local labels and ad companies, which was successful."

Last month, Twice ranked No. 1 in top 10 trends popular among junior high girl students in Japan chosen by Fuji TV. With Twice dominating, other Korean girl groups are gaining popularity among young Japanese people.