The Secret to the Success of K-Pop: The Benefits of Well-Balanced Copyrights

The Secret to the Success of K-Pop: The Benefits of Well-Balanced Copyrights

Jimmyn Parc (Sciences Po Paris, France), Patrick Messerlin (Sciences Po Paris, France) and Hwy-Chang Moon (Seoul National University, South Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1031-4.ch008
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Today's mantra in many political and business circles is that stringent copyrights are needed for fostering cultural creativity and that piracy is the greatest obstacle toward creativity. If that were true, the success of Korean pop music or K-pop should never have occurred. This chapter seeks to explain this apparent paradox through three steps. First, today's mantra has little basis. Most of the existing world culture has been created without copyrights, and economic analysis stresses that stringent copyrights exacerbate monopolistic behavior that suffocates cultural. Second, this chapter analyzes the competitiveness of the current K-pop scene that has little relationship with stringent copyright regulations. Third, the same approach is utilized in order to demonstrate a fascinating relationship between the competitiveness gaining process and piracy suggesting that piracy actually helped the development and competitiveness of K-pop. The main lesson of this chapter is that only “well-balanced” copyright regulations are friendly to cultural creativity.
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In May, 2011, after half a decade of successes in Japan and East Asia, a total of 7,000 seats were sold out in only 15 minutes for the first “SM Town Live in Paris” K-pop concert. An extra concert had to be added in haste the next day after hundreds of K-pop fans from all over Europe rallied to Paris (Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS, 2011). In 2012-2013, the viral hit “Gangnam Style” by Psy took the world by storm. It remains a song with the largest number of clicks on YouTube. In October 2015, a concert by the South Korean idol group BigBang held in Los Angeles’ Staples Center was reported as one of the top ten concerts in the world in terms of gross ticket sales according to Billboard (YG Family, 2015).

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