June 28, 2020
#Music | K-pop is Conquering the World, Except Africa. For Now.

The Korean girl group BlackPink has reached an incredible milestone since the release of their latest video “How You Like That” on June 26. They scored the most viewed premiere in YouTube history with over a hundred million views in less than 48 hours and are still going strong.



From these numbers, it is obvious that BlackPink’s video is rapidly taking over the entire world just as Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” did a few years back. However, unlike Fonsi and Psy, BlackPink seems to have not conquered the African continent as of yet.

In fact, there have been no major fandom noise about the Korean quartet, and not much about K-pop altogether, coming from the motherland. Although the old continent is rarely the target audience when it comes to the music industry seemingly due to its low purchasing power, Africans have shown to be involved in most popular crazes, while even influencing some of them.

Last time Africans got almost excited about K-pop music was when BTS included the Gwara Gwara dance move in their video “Idol". In addition to Gwara Gwara, BTS was heavily influenced by African music and dance in this song.




But you won’t hear that type of music boasting out of speakers in clubs, cars or bars in popular African streets. Even though the king of pop himself Michael Jackson left an indelible imprint in Africa, K-pop is just not attracting the slight curiosity over here. Except for traces of interest in north Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia) and a fandom in South Africa, statistics mostly show that black Africans are not warming up to the sound of pop music with Korean lyrics.



But let’s not forget that the sensation of its time “Gangnam Style”, which was a fresh pop song performed by the Korean Psy, was able to win over African hearts. This lets us believe that K-pop may very soon become a preferred music style in Africa as well.



In fact, k-pop is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. Bands like BTS and Blackpink are selling out in the US, UK and international stadiums within minutes. Let’s also mention that K-pop fans have been extremely supportive to the Black Lives Matter movement showing how influential they actually are:

They have hijacked white supremacist twitter hashtags like #whitelivesmatter and #whiteoutwednesday with millions of K-pop videos, making the hashtag useless for fueling racism and hate.

They shut down the Dallas Police Department’s iWatchDallas app, which was designed to denounce “civil unrest” by uploading video proof. This App would have most likely caused the arrest of many young black people protesting against police brutality.

A couple of weeks ago, after BTS donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, their fans organized a fundraising campaign, using the hashtags #matchamillion and #matchthemillion, and raised an added $1 million in less than one day.

Although 99.9% of K-pop fans appear to not be Africans, there are glimpses of a change. South African blinks (the blinks are the Blackpink’s fandom) have also been very active online. One of the administrators of the twitter handle @BlackPink_ZA with over 19 thousand followers said “we have always wanted to get our girls the recognition in [South Africa] and it looks like we are well on our way to doing that! Another handle @Blackpinkafrica is trying to grow interest among french speaking Africans.  Also, “How You Like That” trended at #7 on YouTube in South Africa! Many people on twitter are asking Blackpink to perform in Africa as well. And according to a Harvard Business School case study, South Africa is the 8th highest ranked country consuming K-pop outside of South Korea (in terms of time spent).



So, it may just be a matter of time before Blackpink, along with the whole K-pop culture, takes over the African continent.

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