Is K pop music popular in Vietnam

K-Pop has given South Korea a hip image all over Asia - now the industry is being shaken by a sex scandal

A sex scandal shakes South Korea's K-pop scene. One of the reasons why this is interesting is that K-pop is used by the government as a soft power tool.

Big Bang is arguably the most successful K-Pop boy band of the past decade: Since their debut in 2006, they have sold over 140 million records. Korean pop music was also particularly explosive politically: When the two Koreans faced each other at the beginning of January 2016, South Korea thundered the number 1 hit “Bang Bang Bang” into the north on its propaganda speakers along the demilitarized zone - as a call to them potential deserters.

Now, however, the rapid success story of the K-Pop heroes is followed by an equally spectacular case.

On Thursday, 28-year-old singer Lee Seung Hyun - known to fans as Seungri - appeared ruefully in a suit and tie in front of the Seoul Police Department on charges of running a prostitution ring. "I will be available to investigate and answer truthfully," he said, without answering questions from dozens of reporters.

The police have secured chat histories from 2015, which are said to prove that the celebrated pop star from Big Bang is said to have organized prostitutes for business partners from Taiwan. In return, he promised to invest in his company Yuri Holding. Prostitution is illegal in South Korea, albeit widespread.

"Negative effects on our whole society"

The scandal has caused a massive outcry in South Korean online media in recent days. "One should arrange for an injunction and forward Seungri's income to the state," writes an angry user under an online article. Another says: “It wasn't an individual mistake. The scandal is having a negative impact on our entire society. "

In fact, the Korean pop industry has always been the highest government issue: After the Asian crisis of the 1990s, when the financial markets collapsed overnight, South Korea, poor in natural resources, looked for new economic engines - and discovered cultural exports for itself.

As a result, President Kim Dae Jung, elected in 1998, initiated a process that the author Euny Hong describes in her highly acclaimed book “The Birth Of Korean Cool” as “probably the largest national image campaign in world history”. The still isolated land of the morning calm should join the global community in the future - and pop culture would carry this message out into the world. It is actively funded by the government. Because K-Pop bands from Manila to Beijing to Tokyo have long been enjoying great popularity - and are also helping to boost the export of domestic products from cosmetics to cell phones.

Joking about rape plans

The scandal surrounding the singer Seungri that has now come to light is also damaging business: When the pop star announced his withdrawal from the public after massive public pressure, the shares of his label YG Entertainment fell by 15.6 percent on the same day a.

This was just the tip of the iceberg: According to police investigators, the deeply fallen star was part of a chat group in which a dozen male K-pop singers joked openly about rape plans and secretly shared sex recordings online. Three famous singers from the chat group have also announced that they will withdraw completely from the entertainment industry. Your cases are now going to court.

"The violence against women is structural - and the crimes often take place in secret," says the feminist activist Seoyun from the group "Burning Feminists": "Sexual abuse and harassment are often dismissed as minor offenses in South Korea."

Changes through #MeToo

In the entertainment industry, these are omnipresent - despite the rigid moral ideas that are propagated externally. "There are so-called middlemen who target less successful singers and actresses and bring them together with rich businessmen from Korea and Japan for sexual services," says John Kim, who was a member of the band Sharp in the late 1990s.

This makes the South Korean one of the first generation of K-Pop. Back then, he says, sexual harassment and lewd comments were the order of the day within the industry. Business meetings with industry representatives often took place in “room salons” - Korean noble brothels. "We had to endure the harassment and comments because it meant the only chance of success," he says today, 20 years later.

However, activist Seoyun believes Korean society has changed since last year's massive #MeToo protests. Women are now resisting, and many perpetrators end up in court. She says, “The Korean entertainment industry will also change. Sex offenders will soon disappear from TV screens. Their seats are taken by singers who were previously given no chance. "