BIGBANG Talks About the K-Pop Label and Military Service in Washington Post Interview

The Washington Post recently published an article about BIGBANG, explaining the world of K-pop and the group’s reputation in South Korea to its U.S.-based readers. The article includes an interview that took place in Tokyo during BIGBANG’s world tour.

The article compares BIGBANG to stars such as Taylor Swift and One Direction, noting that BIGBANG’s “MADE” tour sold 910,000 tickets (almost 1 million) for 18 shows in Japan alone, while One Direction sold 2.4 million tickets across 85 shows around the world.

Not content with pan-Asian success, BIGBANG also toured several cities in North America last year. “We were amazed that people knew our songs in countries that we haven’t even been to, such as Mexico,” said Taeyang in the interview. “They’d never seen us other than on the Internet.”

The article explains K-pop as having taken off in the 1990s, with companies putting trainees through “grueling training” and “churning out highly manufactured groups with a saccharine sound.” They also suggest that “vocal talent came second or third to looks and dancing ability” before going on to explain that K-pop quickly spread through the 2000s to Japan, across Asia, and grew to become a “Korean wave” that encompassed dramas, movies, and fashion.

The article states that BIGBANG has broken out of the “K-pop machine” and “matured to become a new generation of boyband, one whose artists are involved in writing, composing, and producing.”

“Actually, I don’t know why they call Korean music ‘K-pop,’” Seungri said in the interview. “Good music is good music.” G-Dragon added, “We are Korean, so obviously they call our music K-pop. But we never thought of our music as K-pop. Our music is just our music.”

T.O.P had the final word, saying, “You don’t divide pop music by who’s doing it. We don’t say, for instance, ‘white pop’ when white people make music.”

The article mentions that BIGBANG has “push[ed] boundaries of what is considered K-pop,” but also notes that the five members have been careful to brand themselves as individuals. They name Taeyang and Daesung’s solo activities, T.O.P’s branching out into acting, and G-Dragon’s acclaimed sense of fashion.

The article notes that these individual activities are important at a time when BIGBANG’s future is called into question. Korean men are required to complete at least 20 months’ military service before they turn 32, and the oldest member of BIGBANG, T.O.P, is 28. G-Dragon and Taeyang follow close behind at age 27.

“If we’re going to talk about that, we’ll feel sad,” G-Dragon said. “We are Korean, so we have to go someday, but I don’t know when it’s going to be. Until then, we’ll just try hard to do what we got to do.”

“I believe in destiny, and I’m going to let it flow and see how it goes,” T.O.P said.

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