Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


East Asian Studies

First Advisor

David Strand




Korean popular music, more commonly known as K-pop, is a smaller branch of the Hallyu Wave. Hallyu refers to the international success of Korean popular cultural products such as film, music, television, radio, fashion, and computer games. In recent years, K-pop has seen a tremendous rise in global popularity as more and more K-pop artists attempt to leave their mark on the Western music scene. The key factor and common denominator in maintaining fan loyalty in North America lies in the speed and consistency in which companies upload content and the ways in which companies utilize online apps, specifically livestreaming platforms, to foster a virtual personal connection between K-pop idols and their fans. In recent years, scholarship in K-pop studies has shifted its focus from only examining the robotic and manufactured qualities of Korean entertainment companies to looking at Hallyu as a global phenomenon and discovering the power that international audiences hold in the success of the Korean wave. The relationship between K-pop companies and K-pop fandoms are much more nuanced than originally thought. Fans are able to retain a certain level of agency that allows the individual fan experience to remain personal and unique. This virtual personal connection between idols and fans on social media platforms has enabled K-pop to compete successfully on a global musical stage.