Way back in 2001, a 14-year old native of South Korea came to the Land of the Rising Sun to try her luck in breaking through the Japanese music scene. She studied the Japanese language for two years, lived in Japan for a number of months to be able to adjust to the culture, and eventually recorded songs in Japanese. Her debut album in Japan topped the Oricon Weekly Chart selling over a million copies. From then on, she continued to release a string of hit Japanese singles and albums, won numerous awards, broke records for a non-Japanese Asian in the charts, and even performed at the Kouhaku Utagassen for six consecutive years, solidifying the name “BoA” as one of Japan’s top idols. Because of her success in Japan, she opened the doors for her fellow Koreans to enter the Japanese pop scene.
Following in her footsteps, other Korean artists such as Ryu Siwon, Younha, John Hoon, Rain and Se7en started to release Japanese singles, as well. There were also some Koreans who gained popularity in Japan, but not in South Korea, such as Jyongri and K.
In 2005, BoA’s labelmate Tohoshinki (Dong Bang Shin Ki/DBSK/TVXQ) debuted in Japan, but unlike their sempai, the climb to success was not that easy. It took them three years before they reached the top of the Oricon Singles Chart. They also broke records for a foreign group, won awards, and performed on Kouhaku for two consecutive years.
Other Korean groups, eventually, also tried their luck. Some of these groups are Tenjochiki (TSZK The Grace) BIGBANG, SS501 and Choshinsung/Choshinsei that have singles which charted in Oricon.
The influx of Korean artists in Japan is overwhelming. Just when I thought that the J-Pop scene is already saturated with all these boygroups entering the market, a new set of artists is here.
The solo artists had their time, the boygroups had their time, and now the girlgroups are here (excluding Tenjochiki). After having a girl group boom in K-Pop last year, they are now going to Japan to release Japanese versions of their Korean hit singles.
So what do you guys think of the Korean invasion?
Personally, I am really happy with BoA and TVXQ being successful in Japan. Call me biased, I don’t care. They deserve their success.
However, this time I am not really happy anymore. They are just too many of them. Why not stay in their country to save their own music scene? I know that they are in Japan for more profit and to gain more fans, but like I said, J-Pop is now oversaturated with them.
Furthermore, some of these artists just release Japanese versions of their Korean singles. No new material at all.