How South Korea Uses Psy, VIXX and All of K-Pop to Burnish Its Image

It's part of a government branding initiative that began in 1997

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Last month, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena hosted “The M Countdown,” a show featuring top South Korean pop acts like VIXX, BTS, B1A4, Teen Top, IU, G-Dragon, Jung Joon Young, SPICa, CNBlue and Girls Generation. As expected, thousands of fans stood and screamed their heads off. But what most of them probably didn’t know was that they weren’t just watching a stage show, but a crafty bit of international marketing.

Riding the wave of K-Pop (a genre characterized by a winning formula of sharp dance moves set to catchy tunes delivered mostly by boy and girl bands), the LA concert was part of a traveling road show designed to promote Korea—as a headquarters for brands, and as a brand itself.



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