‘K-Pop Collaboration Groups without the ‘K’: A New Trend in Global K-Pop
As K-Pop continues to gain worldwide popularity, collaborations between overseas local companies and Korean music labels to form joint groups have become increasingly common.
JYP Entertainment is set to launch the global girl group project ‘A2K’ in collaboration with Universal Music’s label, Republic Records. This project has garnered attention as it is based on the first-ever K-Pop training system in North America and will be officially unveiled through their YouTube channel on the 14th.
Horizon, formed through the Korean and Philippine joint survival audition program ‘Dream Maker,’ will release their first full-length album ‘Friend-SHIP’ on the 24th and embark on activities in Korea. An official from Horizon’s agency, MLD Entertainment, stated, “Since the filming of the audition program, the group has grown into a diverse ensemble that can showcase various images, aiming to become a global idol. They are ready to reveal their individual charms and shine as one perfect entity.” They also expressed excitement and anticipation, saying, “As a group composed solely of members of Philippine nationality, we are thrilled to show our full potential in Korea. We hope you will keep an eye on us.”
The birth of groups formed through collaborations with overseas local companies lowers the barrier of entry as foreign artists in the local market, reducing resistance. It also allows them to build recognition in the local market before and after their debut, providing an advantage.
There have been discussions about whether a K-Pop group without Koreans can truly be called a K-Pop group. However, K-Pop agencies are expanding collaborations with overseas local companies based on their proven K-Pop debut system, with the clear goal of achieving success in the global music market. Artists created within the K-Pop system are positioned to enter the international market under the strategy of being K-Pop groups. Collaborative groups born through this approach have indeed achieved remarkable success in the global music market, as seen with groups like NiziU and XG.
Jacobus, the general producer of XG, expressed, “I wanted to create a group with a concept that hadn’t existed before. In terms of music, I wanted something new that couldn’t easily be found in existing idol groups.” He further added, “I always had the strong desire to produce and promote activities in Korea. The idol culture industry in Korea has the world’s best system. I believe it is a culture that has been created through the relentless efforts of many people. I wanted XG to grow as an artist group in this field and gain recognition through good content, music, performances, and the members’ personalities and charms.”
Popular culture critic Choi Young-kyun commented positively on the increase of K-Pop collaboration groups without the ‘K,’ stating, “It can increase the accessibility of K-Pop for people worldwide and accelerate its global expansion.”
However, he also pointed out, “The majority of members in collaboration groups are from advanced countries or countries that benefit from the collaboration. As a result, unintentional biases may arise towards the collaborative groups. It is important for those involved in the production and the public to avoid prejudices and embrace diverse attempts.”