How to Collect Korean Pop Music

Across seven weeks, Niko Batallones and Shalla Yu dig through the initially complicated, sometimes messy and ultimately interesting world of K-pop.

Week 1: The Introductory Course Week 1: The Introductory Course
We kick off the series with a backgrounder on K-pop’s history and intricate ecosystem. Who are the major labels? What do all those stages mean? And what’s the difference between the maknae and the visual?

Week 2: The Essentials Course Week 2: The Essentials Course
Shalla Yu picks the five K-pop acts that should be on your collection, no matter what – from the derpy charms of Super Junior, to the hard-hitting nature of Big Bang, to the innocent appeal of IU.

Week 3: The Boy Group Course Week 3: The Boy Group Course
K-pop isn’t just about cute guys who can bust a move: we look at the genre-crossing (and, well, good-looking, obviously) nature of the Korean boy group. Plus, we look at K-pop idols with foreign connections.

Week 4: The Girl Group Course Week 4: The Girl Group Course
We trace the evolution of the Korean girl group, from the innocent R&B flavors of the 90s to the outrageously explicit choreography of today. Plus, we dig through K-pop’s sub-units, solo spin-offs and project collaborations.

Week 5: The Solos and Duos Course Week 5: The Solos and Duos Course
You don’t have to be part of a big group to see success in K-pop: we look at solo and duo acts that have seen success in Korea and elsewhere. Plus, a step-by-step guide on how to watch (and obsess over) your favorite K-pop act.

Week 6: The OST Course Week 6: The OST Course
K-pop and Korean dramas have always played together well: theme songs become chart hits, and idols become successful actors in their own right. Plus, a potted overview of the Korean drama industry.

Week 7: The Obscurity Course Week 7: The Obscurities Course
We look at the obscure side of Korean pop, from the indie acts with a penchant for twee, to the alternative acts proving Koreans can go really heavy, too. Plus, Niko Batallones on what Filipinos can learn from K-pop’s success.


Additional Resources

What K-pop’s ubiquity says about Korean sensibilities
An outsider would look at K-pop and think of it as a novelty, but go to Seoul and you’ll hear the soundtrack to daily life, one that’s wrapped around anything and everything tightly. Niko Batallones reports from Seoul on what K-pop’s pervasiveness says about Koreans.

마마무 is 뭔들: one month in the life of a new MooMoo
Niko Batallones has long liked Mamamoo, but only in the month after the release of their debut full-length Melting has he gone deep. He writes about just what being a fan entails – and why he chose Mamamoo over everybody else.


Elsewhere in the How to Collect series:
Japanese Pop | Nordic Pop | Pop From Down Under


[Written and researched by Niko Batallones and Shalla Yu. Editorial design by Niko Batallones. With thanks to Adette Razon, Cris Michilina, Eleanor Manaois, James Habitan, Janine Diñoso, Jeany Lee, Jennifer Cortez and Sudoy Pateña.]