HYBE founder Bang Si Hyuk is facing backlash from Korean fans after suggesting the genre needs to remove the “K” and expand beyond its Korean roots.
In a recent interview, Bang stated, “These days, I often say that we need to remove the ‘K’ from K-pop. K-pop now needs to meet a broader consumer base in a wider market.” He believes leaning into more universal themes is key for further global expansion.
His comments immediately drew criticism from K-Pop fans in Korean online communities — but also from international fans on different social media platforms. Multiple viral posts condemning Bang’s perspective received tens of thousands of views and hundreds of angry comments.
Many fans see his statements as arrogant and dismissive of K-Pop’s Korean identity. One viral comment stated: “K-Pop isn’t his, so why is he telling people what to do lol Just do what you want with HYBE’s music and let K-Pop take care of itself.”
Other fans accused the CEO of prioritizing business expansion over music: “Now, more than a producer, he seems more like a businessman who doesn’t know music.”
Some fans even referenced BTS member RM‘s rebuttal defending the importance of the ‘K’ in K-pop during a recent interview. They criticized Bang for contradicting his own group member.
Meanwhile, RM responded in an interview that the K was a special certification lol Then take out the K. Then don’t use English lyrics in Korean awards shows and music programs, and go abroad.
— Fan on TheQoo
Many comments expressed confusion and frustration over Bang’s perceived fickleness. While some netizens acknowledged Bang has a point about global expansion, the prevailing sentiment was that stripping away Korean elements would undermine K-Pop’s uniqueness.
“For me, I can understand him from just reading the title. He’s not suggesting calling K-Pop “Pop,” but he’s talking about how when it comes to K-pop, there’s an image limited to idols. So I understood it as him suggesting dispersing K-Pop into a more diverse atmosphere.” “Honestly, every time he does an interview, it feels like he won the lottery with BTS, and he doesn’t seem to know anything about this industry.” “Really, every word seems to be full of contradictions.” “It’s a valid point, but you can’t ignore the fact that they succeeded within the genre of K-pop. To make it competitive even without the ‘K,’ it might be challenging…” | TheQoo
The outrage reflects fans’ deep connection to the Korean roots of their favorite genre. For many, K-Pop’s creative merging of Korean and global influences is precisely why they love it. Diluting that Koreanness could jeopardize the genre’s special appeal.
it’s declining because people like you are obsessed with western validation, kpop losing its essence and originality for many reasons one of its the lack of korean languages, too many white producers, most kpop songs have weird nonsense lyrics and sudden unnecessary drop beats. https://t.co/wtVZs8IXiB
— za (@zavanizaa) November 8, 2023
A few netizens, however, agreed with Bang’s perspective. They argued that reducing Korean-specific elements could allow K-Pop to thrive as pop music on a universal scale. However, this view was overwhelmingly in the minority among Korean online communities.
Bang’s previous concerns about K-Pop. | CNN
The intense backlash against Bang highlights just how integral the “K” in K-Pop is to most Korean fans, but also international ones. While seeking global appeal is understandable, his remarks prove there is a fine line between expanding strategically versus stripping away the Korean essence.
For now, the HYBE founder remains firmly in the doghouse with much of the K-Pop fandom. But only time will tell whether groups and their companies follow his advice or continue under the K-Pop branding.