K-pop refers to pop and dance music performed by idol groups mainly targeted at teens. It was in the 1990s when this school of music first appeared in Korea, but its emergence was not abrupt and its roots are sunk deep into decades of Korean popular music history. Korean popular music, which was born under Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), has shifted and progressed in the currents of social transformations: Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonialism on August 15, 1945, the Korean War (1950-1953) and national division, industrialization and development under dictatorship, democratization, and globalization. In this sense, understanding the history of Korean pop music means figuring out just how Korean society has been transfigured.
Kim Chang Nam is professor in the Department of Media and Communication at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul and one of the most distinguished experts on Korean popular music. He has published a number of works on Korean popular music and culture, including a first overview in English titled K-POP: Roots and Blossoming of Korean Popular Music (Contemporary Korean Arts Series #6, Seoul: Hollym International Corporation, 2012). Besides, Professor Kim made his name in the history of Korean pop music, having been one of the leaders of a band in the 1980s that played a role in South Korea’s democratization movement: “People who seek music” (Norae-rul ch’annun saram-dul). He is also the president of one of the most distinguished awards shows in Korea, Korean Music Awards.