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Boom in K-pop shows as Korean Wave hits the west [updated]

Acts such as Big Bang, Girls' Generation and Exo are driving unparallelled growth for South Korean pop music in Europe and the Americas

By IQ on 06 May 2016

K-pop band Big Bang, YG Entertainment

Boy band Big Bang were seen by 750,000 people globally in 2015

image © YG Entertainment

The number of K-pop concerts in the west is on the rise as Korean artists become increasingly popular among North American and European audiences.

An infographic by live music crowdsourcing website MyMusicTaste, provided to Billboard, which analyses the spread of K-pop outside its home of South Korea and traditional stronghold in east Asia reveals that, from 2013 to present, the US was the foreign country with the third-highest number of K-pop concerts (102), behind only Japan and China.

The ‘Korean Wave’ has also hit Europe, where the number of shows grew to 30 last year (compared to 18 in 2014 and 14 in 2013), overtaking south-east Asia, which held 19 in 2015.

South America, too, has experienced consistent growth, from 12 K-pop concerts in 2013 to 16 in 2014 and 18 in 2015.

The Made 2015 world tour by Big Bang scored the highest attendance over the last three years, with an estimated 750,000 people worldwide attending 65 concerts

In Australia, 20 K-pop concerts have taken place since 2013, although no information is available about year-on-year growth.

Only the Middle East lags behind: it has hosted just one K-pop show, in the UAE, since 2013.

Most concerts in the period were by groups – 1,209, compared to 126 for solo artists – with the majority, 1,028, by male groups.

The Made 2015 world tour by boy band Big Bang scored the highest attendance over the last three years, with an estimated 750,000 people worldwide attending 65 concerts. TVXQ!’s With tour is close behind, with an attendance of 749,000 from 16 much larger shows, followed by Korean-Chinese group Exo’s Exo Planet #2 – The Exo’luxion (626,784), rapper G-Dragon’s One of a Kind in 2013 (570,000) and the sole female entranct Girls’ Generation/SNSD’s Girls & Peace tour of Japan (276,400).

View the full infographic, courtesy of MyMusicTaste and Billboard, below:

K-pop infographic (2013–2016), MyMusicTaste


Update: A number of fans of South Korean boy band Super Junior have written to us on Twitter to point out that the group may well deserve a place on the infographic above. According to the Super Junior, the band were the first K-pop act to perform 100 concerts worldwide and have performed to a total of 1.3 million people since 2008.