Japanese Hallyu fever ignited by BTS It has been a long time since a cooling current has flowed in the popular Korea-Japan relationship apart from the relationship between Korea and Japan. Hate Korea seems to be the mainstream sentiment in Japan, and even private exchanges have been cut off due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). On the other hand, the ‘third Hallyu’ fever in Japan, which BTS represents, is not going to cool down. There is talk that a ‘new Korea-Japan relationship’ is not being formed, which also breaks through the anti-Korean sentiment and the coronavirus.
If the 1st and 2nd Hallyu wave started with Winter Sonata and continued to K-pop idols such as ‘Girls’ Generation’ and ‘Kara,’ the 3rd Hallyu is characterized by platform changes and localization.
Beyond Korean stars releasing Japanese albums and appearing on various Japanese entertainment programs, online platforms such as social media (SNS) and YouTube become the stage for stars.
In BTS, it is a representative star of the third Hallyu wave that succeeded based on a new platform. In terms of fandom, it is hardly affected by the relationship between Korea and Japan in Japan.
The album ‘BTS, The Best,’ which BTS released exclusively in Japan on July 16, received a Million certification from the Japan Record Association on the 9th of this month. BTS is the only artist to receive a million certificate in Japan this year as a certification obtained by singers with cumulative shipments exceeding 1 million copies. This album also showed the power of an intense fandom by ranking first in the Japanese Oricon chart’s weekly album rankings for three weeks in a row.
In 2018, BTS suffered a Japanese music show cancellation due to controversy in Japan that the T-shirt worn by member Jimin was an ‘anti-Japanese T-shirt.’
However, it had little effect on the spread of BTS’ Japanese fandom. On November 13 of that year, tens of thousands of Japanese audiences flocked to BTS’s first Tokyo Dome performance. In a recent survey conducted by a marketing company, BTS was voted #1 as the favorite artist of Japanese high school students with 11% support.
This third wave of Hallyu, represented by BTS, is an opportunity to spread K-pop, dramas, K-beauty, K-food, etc., to the lifestyle of Japanese young people.
According to Professor Kim Kyung-Joo of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Tokai University, Japan, the younger generation of Japan is showing signs of experiencing, sharing, and enjoying K-pop and Korean culture through the Internet. Since they prefer the Internet to old media such as TV and newspapers, they are virtually unaffected by news on Korea-Japan relations.
Among Japanese Generation Z (born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s), it is also said that it is fashionable to eat Korean food with friends and enjoy ‘Dogan Gokko’ (Korean travel play) watching Korean singers’ concert videos.
In an interview with a media outlet, Shingo Machida, the CEO of Japan’s first K-pop dance program in Tokyo, said, “The relationship between Korea and Japan has not been good for ten years, but the impact on the younger generation does not seem to be significant.” “K-pop disappeared from TV after 2012. However, there were still people who enjoyed it, and these days, there are a lot of people who like K-Pop and BTS even though they don’t know much about Korea.”
Experts said, “The current generation Z of Japan is the first generation to recognize Korea as a country they admire rather than viewing Korea on an equal level with Japan.” “The BTS phenomenon could serve as a starting point for a new type of relationship in Korea-Japan relations.” he diagnosed.