Let’s start the article with a few quizzes. Who is the most-played YouTube video in 24 hours among solo singers worldwide? Who is the K-pop singer with the most solo songs played on Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming platform? Who was the first K-pop solo artist to win the MTV Video Music Awards in the US and the MTV Europe Music Awards? Who is active in Korea and has the most Instagram followers among K-pop singers? The answer to all these spectacular questions is the same. Only one person holds all these Guinness Book records. That is Larissa Manovan, a member of the girl group BLACKPINK and Thai K-pop idol Lisa.
Lisa is the most influential foreign idol in K-pop history. Also, BLACKPINK is the most successful model to target the global market through foreign standards. Support from Thailand and the entire Southeast Asian region showed great strength. Southeast Asia is the most English-speaking region in Asia.
In the meantime, Lisa has often been treated as a subject of K-pop discourse, but due to this fact, it has been biased toward comments related to her birthplace. It is said that he is a national hero in Thailand and that the background is that he is a member of the Rosso (lower class) class in contrast to the local Hi-So (upper class).
The implicit devaluation of Blackpink’s worldwide popularity, such as that ‘Southeast Asia’ is the epicenter of so many online views and followers, is spreading in some parts of the K-pop scene.
It is these perspectives that must be overcome to describe Lisa adequately. Lisa is not simply a celebrity in Southeast Asia, and her popularity does not fall within the boundaries of being a ‘foreign idol.’ He is one of the worldwide celebrities and idols with the most extraordinary personal power in K-pop history male and female idols. Lisa’s Instagram followers exceed 90 million. To some extent, it ranks in the top 40 of all Instagram accounts worldwide and has more followers than Dua Lipa, a famous British pop singer, and Shakira, the queen of Latin pop.
BLACKPINK member Jennie said this while recalling the moment she met Lisa in the documentary ‘Blackpink: Light Up the World.’ “There is a friend who is naturally this good.” The word ‘born’ is the most appropriate word to describe Lisa. Lisa has all the talent to perform a stage performance. I once said in an article discussing the skills of idols that idols can never follow the experts in each performance element, but Lisa is an exception. Compared to rappers, he can spit rap skillfully enough not to be lacking, and he dances well enough that dancers rave about him. His naturally slender body shape, small face, Western impression, and swagger style add an overwhelming aura to the performance quality. An existence that becomes a picture on stage, an idol born to stand on stage, that is Lisa.
Idols are composed of various identities, but what K-pop has fostered with the most heart and soul through its history and put forward as the vanguard of overseas expansion are idols on stage, idols as ‘performers.’ In the case of a girl group, the latest version that materialized as a concept is ‘Girl Crush.’ Lisa is a K-pop masterpiece created by the dreams and aspirations of this industry.
The perfect performance idol, an icon that embodies a girl crush, and the most global female model in the world. Lisa is a symbol of the competitiveness of K-pop, which has become an international genre with ‘music to see,’ performance, and audio-visual charm as a weapon, and she is a contributor to the globalization of K-pop beyond Asia through the process of becoming a star herself. All.
Ironically, those who dispute Lisa’s status are inside the K-pop scene in Korea. Some say that Lisa’s transcendent figures on social media and YouTube are derived from the population of ‘Southeast Asia.’
This is a symptomatic habit. As I said, Lisa is the most famous K-pop female idol in the West, along with Blackpink members. Just because Shakira is a Latin American superstar, you can’t belittle her with that fact. But why is the identity of a K-pop idol from Southeast Asia being discussed as a basis for reducing its global status? It may be because of the inertia of recognizing Southeast Asia as a ‘non-world’ excluded from valuable overseas markets where K-pop is entering.
This means that even within this industry, which began in the periphery of world culture and non-Western regions, a sense of discrimination distinguishes the center from the periphery.
K-pop is not simply a globalized industry with the identity of Korean music. Rather, it is an industry that accepts and fuses music genres, industrial systems, and cultural icons from other countries. Representing the music industry in Asia, it has selected resources from East and Southeast Asia and carried the enthusiasm of fandoms in each country.
One identity of K-pop is the hybridity of the national identity that allowed them to reach the world with their nationalism and reach the world through them. Lisa’s Thai fans are susceptible to the treatment Lisa receives within her agency YG and the K-pop scene, so they often start protesting with strong internet firepower. This situation is portrayed in Korea like a meme, and their extreme behavior is a joke.
But this is the universal nature of nationalism. It is no different from the roots of Koreans condemning Son Heung-min’s problems in the EPL as racism. The friction between Lisa and Southeast Asian fans and Korean fans surrounding her is like a topographical map that shows how the transnationalization phenomenon of the global village is taking place within the K-pop scene today and how the nationalisms of each country that makes up this global industry combine and confront each other. I want to say two things.
One is that K-pop has become the ‘EPL of the Asian music scene,’ sending its country’s representative players to the people of the Asian region and arousing unique passion. The other is that Larissa Manoban is ‘one of a kind’ and has played a special role in helping K-pop gain such global competitiveness. Korean fandom and industry insiders should pay more respect to this worldwide superstar from K-pop.