South Korea's popular music (K-pop) has the potential to become a new economic growth engine by fueling exports and improving the country's overall image abroad, a report said Wednesday.
K-pop has moved beyond Asia and started to make inroads into Europe and North America, which is generating positive publicity and may translate into more exports down the road, according to the report by Hyundai Research Institute (HRI).
"The popularity of groups such as Super Junior, Girls' Generation, TVQX and Wonder Girls can boost South Korea's national image from a country that only makes good-quality manufactured goods to a country that is competitive in the cultural arena," it said.
Leading talent agencies such as S.M. Entertainment Co. and YG Entertainment said recent concerts held by Korean entertainers in the United States and Europe have shown the potential for growth in markets outside of Asia. K-pop has been popular in countries such as Japan, China, and many Southeast Asian countries for many years.
South Korea is currently one of the top 10 trading nations in the world and depends heavily on exports to sustain growth.
Despite gains made so far, the HRI cautioned that there are many challenges that need to be overcome if K-pop wishes to maintain the current momentum and grow globally.
"Just as the Japanese animation industry failed to anticipate the rise of three-dimensional imagery, K-pop needs to adjust to all the latest changes and demands," it said. "Failure to do so will effectively limit long-term growth."
The institute added that K-pop relies too heavily on a handful of groups and singers, and said that while trendy songs and dances have been effective in winning over fans, there may be a need to develop new attractions.
Besides overcoming challenges, the HRI said in order to capitalize on popularity on K-pop, there may be a need to package local products so foreign fans can easily connect them with Korean singers and dance groups.
"There is a need to get people to better connect local products with K-pop if the country wants to benefit more from the rise in demand for locally produced entertainment contents," it said.