Are Non-Korean Idols Considered K-Pop? BTS Offers Their Opinion

What do K-Pop’s biggest names think of the issue?

In recent years, there have been many debates about what constitutes K-Pop and what does not. On the one hand, there has been an increasing trend of Korean idol groups releasing English songs to cater to their global audiences while being accused of moving away from K-Pop. On the other, multi-national groups like BLACKSWAN have faced questions about their validity as K-Pop groups, even though their music is primarily in Korean.

(From left to right) BLACKSWAN members Fatou, Nvee, Sriya, and Gabi | @blackswan___official/Instagram

The issue at hand is largely subjective, with many people offering many points of view. In a newly-released interview, BTS addressed the subject, offering their viewpoint as the leading faces of K-Pop.

(From L To R) Six of the seven BTS members J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Jimin, and V | @ARCHIVE-K/YouTube

During the interview, the group was asked what they thought K-Pop was. RM took the lead in answering, admitting immediately that he got this question a lot, even overseas, but his answer has changed over time.

The BTS leader mentioned that when they first went to the Billboard Music Awards in 2017, if anybody asked about the uniqueness of K-Pop, he would point out elements like music video, sound, choreography, visuals, and new media communication. Back then, RM said, K-Pop was definable as a comprehensive amalgamation of all these things.

But in 2021, when the interview was originally taken, the rapper said, those defining factors of K-Pop were not as distinct as before.

RM mentioned groups with foreign members, saying that since they create music in the K-Pop genre, they are considered K-Pop groups even if all the members are not Koreans.

Conversely, RM also pointed at BTS’s own dichotomy, taking “Dynamite” as an example. He explained that the song was made by a group of all Korean members, but it was completely in English. At the same time, it followed the K-Pop format, with the music video, choreography, and all associated content that is unique to this industry.

In the end. RM concluded his answer by saying that the scope of K-Pop is ever-expanding, and defining it at this point is not objectively possible. Since the industry’s outreach has changed so fast, the meaning of the words and terms attached to it also keeps changing at that pace. As a result, the definition of K-Pop, RM said, will keep changing in the future, too.

Jimin wrapped it up with a simple yet impactful answer, asking people to just accept the things they find worthwhile without trying to put any defining labels on them.