Why ‘localized’ K-pop groups are refocusing on Korean market

The members of K-pop boy band WayV pose during a press event held to mark the  release of its fifth mini-album 'Give Me That' in Korea at the BlueSquare Mastercard Hall in central Seoul's Yongsan District, Monday. Yonhap

Created through globalization strategies, so-called “localized” K-pop groups are now turning back toward promotional activities in Korea. While some foreign-born idols are choosing to return to their home countries after gaining international experience here, others are starting from scratch to build popularity in Korea.

Localized groups are K-pop acts developed by Korean agencies with a focus on foreign markets. These groups, composed mostly or entirely of non-Korean members, are modeled after the trainee system and style of K-pop but concentrate their activities on their respective regions.

This approach contrasts with traditional K-pop groups, which operate primarily in Korea except for international tours or overseas concerts.

However, recent trends have shown a shift back to Korea, with these localized groups aiming to capture fans in both Korea and abroad, contrary to the past emphasis on gaining popularity overseas.

A prominent example is the boy group WayV from SM Entertainment, which announced new activities in Korea with the release of its latest album on June 3.

WayV is a subunit of SM’s boy band NCT, featuring members of various nationalities including Chinese and Thai. WayV has previously focused on activities in China.

Releasing their fifth mini-album “Give Me That,” the WayV members announced plans for activities simultaneously in both Korea and China. The new album includes six tracks, featuring Korean and Chinese versions of the title song.

At a press event held earlier on Monday at the BlueSquare Mastercard Hall in central Seoul’s Yongsan District, WayV members expressed their desire to engage more with Korean fans.

“We decided to focus on promotions in Korea because we wanted to meet our Korean fans more often. The title track has a Korean version, and this is the first time we’ve included Korean-language songs. We plan to show various sides of ourselves through music shows, YouTube, radio and other content,” the band members remarked.

&TEAM, a boy band under HYBE Labels Japan, is another localized group seeking to gradually expand its activities in Korea. The group, composed of 카지노사이트킹 Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese members, is active primarily in Japan, as most of its album promotional activities have taken place there.

However, acknowledging its growing fan base in Korea, the group embarked on its first Korean promotional activities last November with its studio album, “First Howling: NOW.” The group is also slated to participate in the 2024 Weverse Con Festival next month, to be held near the INSPIRE Entertainment Resort in Incheon, west of Seoul.

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