PSY and BoA: K-pop Compare and Contrast Analysis


The rise of the popularity of the K-pop music style in the global arena is measured by the success of Korean popular music singers, composers, record producers, song writers and show dancers that are ready to create the feeling of good taste of music. In particular, the rise to the global popularity of the Korean popular music starts from the domestic arena, where singers perform songs and record their first albums to promote the successful road to the global popularity in the international music market.

The K-pop scholar Su- Young Kim after the thorough study of this music style brings its phenomenon within the perspectives of the global popularity, due to the correspondence to the values of romantic love, friendship, cooperation of young people who are ready to belong to the one and unique community of those who like lively and evolutionary style in music. The researcher evaluates K-pop high popularity as the outcome of the cultural response to the sophisticated crowd that goes in contrast to the TV-shows that many people like to watch from time to time. As the researcher explicates her position on the Korean pop as kaleidoscope, keyboard/ keypad pop, “kidult” (kids and adult), corporate and namely Korean pop, this positioning is good, when it is relevant to the values of modernity that praises slim attractive performers who sing and dance synchronically to the music and singing. In this relation, the significance of this paper is to cover the topic of the role of K-pop in the global culture as the active response to the claims that exist against the Asian style in music.

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This paper is focused on the role of K-pop in the variety it brings to the domestic Asian and international market, based on the compare and contrast analysis of two K-pop performers: PSY and BoA. Although these singers are both from the Korean origin, they started their music performing career in different periods, when different promotional means were accessible to become recognizable for the interested audience domestically and internationally. For better, they have both reached success, because they had excellent skills in singing and making shows for people that praised them. So, they are perfect “idols” for modern youth that is interested in taking share of their freedom of performance and activating the raised feeling of inspiration and connection to the audience.

The Cultural Heritage of the K-pop

It is understandable that “Korean singers and actors are young and the settings are often contemporary, their themes embody traditional values of family, friendship, and romantic love”, as they belong to the certain cultural context that they cannot abandon. However, for the sake of commercialization, many artists prefer to stay connected to the international values more than domestic ones, being able to modify their lyrics and music, based on the things, concepts and issues that are universal for the world. For instance, many K-pop performers deliver the concept of the “infantile” masculinity to the global market, expecting the rise of popularity as for the innocent males who expect and hope to be the part of music market.

The popularity of the K-pop is promoted not only by the value it brings to the fans in the domestic and global music market, but also by the idea of youth as the powerful source of energy. It is proved by flash mobs, social media campaigns as snowballs that reinforce the popularity on the rise up to the top of success in the music career. The classical approach of show in dance accompanied by singing is a good example of successful determination of the role of pop music for today’s fans. This paper shows the gradual transition from the native to the international market as the part of career experience of two K-pop artists: PSY and BoA. Their professional development perfectly illustrates the path that Korean musicians are ready to pass to discover their potential in use for the global community. The development of the interest to the popular music on the part of wide public proves the hypothesis that “K-pop in Korea therefore illustrates three important aspects of social change: changes in social perceptions of the popular music industry, massive government support, and television stations actively recruiting new K-pop star”. For the sake of cultural development and progress, the rise of interest to the K-pop is critically assessed through the lens of commercialization and simplification of music, adjusting it to the easily accessible and understandable standardized norms. However, even if K-pop becomes no longer unique, it reflects the growing interest in the rap and hip-hop music that are related to the analyzed music sub-genre.

PSY and BoA: Compare and Contrast Analysis

PSY and BoA are both Korean K-pop singers that have recently become recognizable artists in the world music arena. They have both reached success through the hard work and continuous training of their performance for the sake of good sounding and perfect show. In the recent years, they have become popular because of the risen interest to the popular music and the uniqueness of its role for the intercultural communication. Each song of PSY or BoA reflects some problem that is under discussion in the rhythmic sounding manner: this helps the audience to get relaxed and feel the inspirational activities on their own.

The career of PSY started in 2001, when his first album PSY from the Psycho World appeared in the Korean market. He kept on with the continuous performing training until tried to represent his recent composition within the Japanese music market that empowered him with the rising popularity internationally. However, the best composition by PSY appeared in 2012, when his famous song Oppan Gangnam Style appeared on Youtube. It was as for May 31, 2014, when this song hit the views rate at 2 billion, and in December, 2015 this rate was 2,5 billion views. This made a great push in PSY’s career development, inspiring him for the new successful albums, including PsyFive (2010) and Chilijip Psy-da (2015), presented for the U.S. market.

BoA had the similar way of professional music career development that started in Korea, but developed gradually starting from the Korean market up to the representation of her compositions in Japan and later in the USA. Her debut album ID: Peace B in Korea was recorded in 2000, and it was followed by another album Listen To My Heart recorded in Japan in 2002. The representation of her successful music things to the U.S. public happened in 2009 by the album BoA.

Although their career development is similar, the public image of PSY and BoA is different, for it reflects different interpretation of the sources of their show and ways of inspiration. For instance, PSY reports about the influence of Freddie Mercury’s on-stage live performance on his creative show dancing and acting. In contrast, BoA’s public image is more romantic than energetic and lively. However, both artists provide the audience oriented strategies to promote their compositions. This way they are continuously getting a good recognition and praise from fans in Korea and from abroad.


The role of the K-pop is high or the development of the contemporary music in the global and Korean context. The rise of interest to this genre of music is promoted by the increasing popularity of romantic relationships and friendship among youth, the concepts of the infantilized masculinity and the submissive femininity. The difference and similarity in gender roles is understandable by the show and song performance.

The analyzed public images and career development of PSY and BoA shows the links between the popularity of music and the appearance, dramatic show program and relevance to the international and domestic market. Both artists showed success through the hard path to the recognition by fans from Korea, Japan and U.S.

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