J-pop expands presence in Korea

J-pop duo Yoasobi / Courtesy of LIVET

J-pop duo Yoasobi / Courtesy of LIVET

By Dong Sun-hwa

J-pop is gaining more ground in Korea, with a growing number of Japanese singers heading for Korea to showcase their music.

In December, J-pop duo Yoasobi staged its first solo concert in Korea at Hwajung Gymnasium at Korea University in Seoul’s Seongbuk District, drawing some 8,500 spectators. Consisting of vocalist Ikura and composer Ayase, the duo rose to prominence here after its tune “Idol” — a theme song for the popular Japanese anime “Oshi no Ko” — became a viral hit on the Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok. A plethora of K-pop stars, including Jang Won-young of girl group IVE and Hong Eun-chae of Le Sserafim, also joined its dance challenge.

Shortly before Yoasobi’s success, Japanese singer imase pulled off a major musical feat here, becoming the first J-pop artist to enter the Top 100 chart on Melon, a major music streaming platform in Korea that boasts over 7 million monthly active users. “Night Dancer,” imase’s 2022 release, soared to the No. 17 spot — the highest-ever rank for any J-pop song — after beckoning Korean fans with its retro vibe. Like “Idol,” it was also a viral sensation on TikTok.

Given that it is not easy for even K-pop tracks to secure the top spots on the highly competitive Melon chart, imase’s achievement was something worthy of attention. His popularity even led the singer to stage his first performance here, which took place in front of some 500 fans last April.

The rise of short-form videos and the growing popularity of Japanese content such as anime are believed to have spearheaded the success of Yoasobi and imase in Korea. They, however, are not the only Japanese artists boosting their presence here.

In February, Japanese female singer Ado performed at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, only a few weeks after Korean-Japanese rapper Chanmina played her first solo concert here.

Known as a “faceless” singer who has never revealed her face publicly, Ado is a chart-topping artist in Japan, whose 2023 song”Show” ranked first on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart for multiple weeks. Chanmina is a prominent rapper based in Japan, whose hits include, “I’m a Pop” (2019) and “Morning mood” (2021).

Picking up the baton, Japanese band amazarashi and singer Reol are scheduled to perform in Korea on Sunday and March 23, respectively. In April, popular band King Gnu, which recently took the stage at Japan’s Nissan Stadium that has a seating capacity of 75,000, will mesmerize its fans in Korea at Olympic Hall in southeastern Seoul. Sing-songwriter eill, the lyricist behind the Japanese version of IVE’s smash hit “After LIKE,” will also visit Korea in April before rock band SPYAIR hits the stage in May.

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