Jeff Benjamin, an American pop columnist specializing in K-pop, has visited South Korea to attend the annual Culture Communication Forum. Hosted by the Korea Image Communication Institute, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Culture and Information Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forum is aimed at enhancing cultural exchanges. Benjamin has actively introduced K-pop singers including PSY and BTS, contributing to American pop magazines including Billboard, Forbes, and the New York Times.
He said that the time has gone when you had to explain what K-pop and BTS are as people gathered from around the world are wondering how they could learn and utilize K-pop.
K-pop has now fully grown to be one of the musical genres, and Benjamin assessed what drove the growth was the singers’ message, idea, and sincerity.
Reciting a list of Korean singers who have achieved success in overseas markets, Benjamin said that it is only a matter of time before another K-pop star gets to be in the spotlight. Yet, he stressed that K-pop artists need to keep their “Koreanness” to do so.
The pop columnist cited an example of Wonder Girls, saying that they could not flourish as they wished because they tried to imitate the American pop music scene, which highlights sexually attractive and futuristic aspects. Various K-pop groups such as NCT 127, BLACKPINK, and ITZY have a potential to create another sensation as BTS has done, and they should not forget that the world is enthusiastic about their “Korean identity,” he advised.