Since I have limited knowledge about K-Pop, I end up using this list from ranker to determine which K-Pop Groups' data I should collect.
I was scrolling through my YouTube feeds one day in late 2017 when one of Jimmy Kimmel Live! episode showed up and introduced me to a South Korean boyband called BTS. Being a telecommunication major graduate working in a telecommunication company, the only BTS I know was Base Transceiver System, not a seven-member boyband from South Korea. And judging by Jimmy Kimmel’s reaction, it seems like he had no clue about them too. Luckily, one of his audiences gave him a short course for the band so I don't have to be clueless for too long.
After watching the episode, YouTube recommendation algorithm flooded my feeds with their other videos: their guest appearance on Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden talk shows, their latest music videos, and their performance on the American Music Awards, which seems to be the first for a South Korean group. A few clicks and lot of google queries later, I just realized that they are very big in the US.
One thing that puzzled me the most about this discovery was how I underestimated the magnitude of BTS and K-Pop popularity. I’m not a K-Pop superfan, but I watched a lot of Girls' Generation videos few years ago. There were times when my office mates and I gathered around to watch their newly released videos on a small screen of my friend’s smartphone, but as the time goes by the hype seems to fade away. None of my friends talks about them anymore. So I was surprised to learn that a South Korean boyband was taking over the US while thinking that the K-Pop craze has already reached the peak on the past.
I was so curious to find the answer that I end up collecting Google trend data for BTS and other K-Pop groups to see how the trends might differ between Indonesia, the US, and other countries.
Does the hype for K-POP peak at a different time in the US compared to Indonesia? Or maybe its just me and many people are actually still excited about K-Pop? Keep scrolling to see what I found so far.
I end up collected the data for 34 groups (and PSY, since I think he also went viral in the US before) in total.
The lines you see here represent the trend for the groups from 2009-2017. Currently they sit at the baseline (that is, if a group have zero percent of total searches in a country).
Now let's start by looking at the US data.
As you can see, the K-Pop wave in the US is relatively calm, with only few groups skyrocketed.
But looking at the latest wave, we can see that the K-Pop trend in the US now is higher than ever, and it would not be wearing off soon.
The last time a South Korean artist get this popular in the US is when PSY’s Gangnam Style went viral around 2012.
However, as you can see PSY's trend was short lived, while BTS have a consistently positive trend since their debut in 2013.
Now feel free to explore the chart for yourself! Tap or hover over a wave to see which groups it represents.
Have you finished exploring? Now let's move on to see the trend in Indonesia.
The K-Pop wave in Indonesia looks different. As you can see, it has actually passed the peak around 6 years ago.
The two most popular groups in the last few years are BTS and EXO. However, they have relatively lower trend than their predecessors:
and Super Junior.
So I think this result may answer my initial curiosity.
While BTS is currently one of top K-Pop groups in Indonesia, the hype for them here is not as big as the hype for Super Junior and Girls' Generation around 2012.
Which may explain why I didn't notice BTS until they have taken over the US and my YouTube feeds.
Now that I have answered my initial question, I think it will still be interesting to see how the K-Pop wave looks like in other countries...
...which I will show you soon.
But for now, feel free to explore the chart.
Notice that there were other groups peaked around 2012, which I think was the K-Pop golden era in Indonesia.
Well, if you think you've exploring enough, next I will show you how the wave looks like in China.
There is a K-Pop group standing out more than the others in China. Can you guess which group is this?
EXO was initially formed as two different groups performing songs in Korean and Mandarin, so this result is totally make sense.
Several K-Pop groups actually recruits member from other countries. But do you think having members from other country will affect their popularity in the members' home country?
To answer this, next I will show how the wave look like in Thailand. (Or you may explore this chart first as usual, up to you).
Ready? Keep scrolling to see how the wave looks like in Thailand.
Several K-Pop groups actually have members from other countries, and many of them are coming from Thailand.
One example is Got7, which seems to be also very popular in Thailand lately.
Beside Got7, other K-Pop groups with notable Thai member are Blackpink,
So do you think having members from foreign countries affecting a K-Pop group's popularity in their members' home countries? I would think so.
But you may now explore to find the answer yourself.
If you finished exploring, next I will show you one final country for this article.
As the world's second biggest music market, Japan is probably the main target of South Korean music producers.
Many K-Pop groups releases a Japanese version of their albums, and as a result, the K-Pop wave in the country seems to be more varied than the other countries.
One of the latest trending group is Twice, which just release a Japanese debut in 2017...
...following other groups with successful Japanese releases in the past, such as Bigbang...
... and Girls' Generation.
And many more, that you can explore yourself.
One thing to note about Google Trend data is that they do not actually reveal an absolute total volume of searches for a particular term. Instead, they represent how often a term is searched for relative to the total volume of searches in a region. This means while I can compare the trend for BTS to the other K-Pop groups within a country, I couldn’t say (in term of absolute numbers) that they are more popular in one country than another. But I know that in Indonesia people are more likely to have heard about Super Junior and Girls' Generation than BTS (like me), while in US it's all about BTS.
So I think that’s all I can say! I started this project out of my personal curiosity about BTS, but then I think it would be interesting to share some of what I found. I believe there are many other interesting pattern that you can find, but I think I will let you explore them yourself.
Finally, I just want to say that I had so much fun making this article so I hope you enjoy it too!