Hm, let’s see what that article actually said


Apparently K-Con France did get a story in Le Monde, which is great. (There were also stories outside of the K-Pop/Asian press here and here–people seemed to like Block B, anyway.) The picture and the caption are of Block B, so that’s nice, although they are not mentioned in the article itself.

In fact, the article talks almost exclusively about BTS, so AllKPop decided to put up an article saying that La (sic) Monde had named BTS the most popular K-Pop group in France–wow!–and that French students were missing their baccalauréat to see them! Which, as many commenters noted, would be quite the feat given the baccalauréat’s actual schedule, and uh, yeah, Lalalalalalala Monde didn’t actually say that about BTS–or at least Le Monde did not. (There’s also a lot of squabbling in the comments–guys, you are arguing over something that is not real. You can plug “un groupe de hip-hop de sept garçons qui comptent parmi les grandes stars du moment de la scene locale” into frickin’ Google Translate and get a more accurate understanding of what was said than what AllKPop gave you, OK?)

Of course, none of that has prevented the AllKPop story from being parroted in other outlets, because copy/paste journalism is the best journalism there is!

So, in the spirit of encouraging people to look at source material (please!!!), why don’t I take a crack at translating that Le Monde article from the French?

(I know I’m pushing the “while intoxicated” thing–I didn’t get much sleep, and I’ve had a lot of coffee? Or maybe I’m just high on life.)

Anyway, here goes:

K-Pop Has Landed in France

Caption: The South Korean group Block B during their concert at the Bercy June 2, 2016

Never mind their oral English baccalauréat tomorrow, Laurine and Mallorine could not fail to attend the most important K-Pop event organized in Europe. They were already happy to have been able to get tickets for K-Con, held in Paris on Thursday, June 2, which is happening alongside South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit. Since 6 am the two 17-year-old high-school students have been waiting in front of the L’AccorHotels Bercy Arena to make sure that they would benefit from an entire day dedicated to the popular culture of the Land of Morning Calm.

Neither of them has ever set foot in South Korea, but they know all the boy bands. They are especially eager to hear BTS, an acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan, literally “Bulletproof Boy Scouts,” a hip-hop group of seven boys that at the moment is one of the great stars of the local scene.

Caption: K-Pop fans at the concert at the Bercy June 2, 2016

Fans All Over the World

They come from all four corners of France, as well as Europe, for some hours of Hallyu, the South Korean pop wave, which has long been popular among the youth of Southeast Asia and China. Ordinary people only know Psy and his “Gangnam Style,” whose YouTube video made fun of the superficiality of some of Seoul’s youth. But these days K-Pop has true fans even in this corner of the world.

For Shin Hyung-kwan, president of the division in charge of these types of shows for CJ, one of the giants of the South Korean pop industry, there is no doubt that there is a market to seduce in Europe. “We must continue to work for recognition, but there is clearly demand. 10,000 seats were sold within three hours, and we had no doubt that there would be fans,” says Mr. Shin.

Orchestrated Marketing

The two groupies, who like many others wear sweatshirts with the BTS logo, know everything about the commercial side of boy bands. Marketing is cleverly orchestrated, details Laurine Sigot. First an online rumor, then a “teaser” and photos that appear a few months before the unveiling of a new group.

She nonetheless appreciates this foreign culture and hopes to go on a tour of South Korea when she can. “It’s vibrant music, it makes you want to dance. Some lyrics are simplistic but others are really dreamy. Some make you cry and others put you in a good mood,” confides the young woman. Backstage, the seven striking boys are already ready for the concert, during which they will succeed other names also completely unknown to the novice French person: f(X), SHINee or I.O.I.

The origins of BTS are not at all natural, the biggest star of the group, Rap Monster, age 21, birth name Kim Nam-joon, freely acknowledges, after which the manager still questions the propriety of answering the question. Everything is tightly regulated, and ever since they were assembled by a promoter in 2013, the young singers/dancers can hardly deviate from the script.

“The label had a new concept for a rap-influenced group. They held several rounds of auditions and kept the seven best,” says Rap Monster, his hair bleached with a touch of gray-green. He adds, “It was destiny.”


That’s the article. If you’re hoping for more factory-music stereotyping, I’ll translate the one (pretty fucking hysterical) comment!


An unappeasable industry, without fault, without soul, without moral rules other than those of the producer: Cash, it’s invested and should be recouped as soon as possible, never mind about the talent, no matter the method, the physical (training) and moral consequences to the exploited, the “artists” come last….



21 responses »

  1. Random Thought Comment: I cannot get into BTS at all. Even when they did that joint stage with Block B, I just wanted them out of the way so I could see Block B.

    And Urgh to AllKpop.

    • Urgh to AllK”Journalism,” really, but yeah–AllKPop gets a Very Special Urgh this time around….

      I sometimes enjoy BTS–the dancing can be really cool. And I occasionally look up videos of them being funny, but I feel like the percentage of them doing normal boring fan service is too high–they can be really quite funny, but that’s clearly not supposed to be their main focus. I’m hopeful that maybe as they get older they’ll go in a Super Junior direction and just be all “fuck it–we’re gonna do comedy!”

      While I generally like BTS’ music, it’s gotten kind of frustrating for me as well, because they’ll do songs I think are REALLY good (I thought “Save Me” was original and excellent) and then they’ll do songs like “Fire” that are almost like a grade-school version of a BTS song–super simple and boring. And I’m hoping that there’s another “RM” or “Dark & Wild”-type album coming out one of these days, but I kind of worry that the label has decided that that kind of thing doesn’t sell as well.

        • Yeah that’s my fear. Because who would want to watch people be ridiculous when you can watch them rattle on about how much they really, really, really, really, really love their fans so, so, so, so, so much really really really they do sosososo much reallyreallyreallyreally sosososo [repeat endlessly]….

      • Yeah totally agree; I liked Save Me a lot better than Fire, but all my Kpop friends are much more excited about Fire (and BTS in general). I was a bigger fan when they first started (they had a nice show when they first started Rookie King or something that I found a lot of fun) though my excitement started decreasing shortly after Boy in Luv, sorta when they started gaining lotsa fans (not due to this but possibly effected my attitude towards them; more of a casual listener now).

        Their PR and merchandising team are ridiculously good–way before the V app (even before they debuted) they were doing regular YouTube vlogs and backstage clips etc, which makes fans feel closer, they have so much stuff you can buy and collect (plushes, photo card sets (numbered/catalogued so you can feel like you’re completing a collection, where you buy random sets so you have duplicates and buy more/trade) + official card collecting albums, Summer and Winter seasons merch, albums that are a series and go together/fit a picture together but still reasonably few so it seems doable (not like 12 ver that fit together *cough exo*), two versions of albums, every concert abroad w/ DVDs and pics, so on and so forth). A lot of other groups do this too ofc (including Block B, but not to that extent, though all these Japanese ver feel like too much for me) but BTS just does everything haha. And it works. Yay money (which hopefully they see a fair share of) and obsessed fans :).

        • Yeah…I hope to God BTS is being kept happy and well-compensated. But I guess I have this nagging feeling that their label wants to take this group of extremely talented artists and turn them into, you know, a real A+ plushie merchandise sales team, and I’m like, They’re so much better than that! But I suspect it’s kind of unavoidable, especially because they do really depend on that fan base. As long as there is room for the artistry to shine, I’ll be happy–but songs like “Fire” make me think, Oh, no, they’re being forced to keep it simple so that they don’t lose the more brain-dead members of the audience….

        • I suppose whatever gets them paid is what’s good for them. I wish I liked them more, but meh. On the other hand, I don’t have to race to get their tickets, which is bad enough for Block B.

          • P.S. Block B tickets aren’t that bad, and if they stick to SubKulture Ent for their US promotions, it shouldn’t be too bad to get a high five as long as the cash is around.

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  3. I used to like BTS till dope, than I lost interest cause their songs didn’t seem so unique anymore, at least for me and I started to see them everywhere, their fans too… I got a bit too overwhelmed with that. Is not I dislike popular music cause isn’t like that, but I didn’t see the reason to be so popular, I mean, I saw better stuff being done by others. This last release from them, I didn’t like any, Fire is generic hype song, only their dance was really cool for me and Save me even tho I like, is a mix of justin bieber and cold play, like seriouslly, i usually don’t look up for stuff but the moment I heard reminded me a lot of 2 justin bieber songs and later I found similarities with paradise from cold play. Not that I would post about this anywhere talking about it would sound hate but isn’t just didn’t appeal to me seeying something so not original and unique from them.

    I like Block B because they avoid being ordinary, they can change the style to try something new but they don’t loose their personalities and uniquiness. U can go thru all their music and u will find them all very different, unique and u will still see them on it. Not many people can manage to do that. Even their fanservice is not forced, is funny and cute a lot less cringe even tho I am not a fanservice fan. I do agree that many groups force this to be more appealing wich is kind of meh.

    Honestly I don’t dislike any group like I like songs for many, but block b is the only one that caught my interest in a more motherly way lol

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  7. I am totally new to the BTS subject, as I only started to watch some of their vids and I don’t even remember how or why. I don’t know if their music has changed a lot since their beginning as I didn’t do as much research as I used to on Block B. It took me a lot of time to understand who was who as they all looked alike to me at first (I know…) but, because I am not into their story and can’t tell if they have sold their originality and soul to the devil I can simply say I do enjoy what they do, musically speaking (I don’t know about the extended fanservice thing as I don’t feel concerned by this aspect of kpop, now that I understand it is a common service and not the specificity of one goup ^^)
    Ok maybe their music is easy and has been heard many times before but I wouldn’t know as I don’t listen to other groups. Their tunes are catchy but more than this I must say it’s the energy and flawless yet very elaborated choreographies they perform that leave me speechless: I enjoy watching their danse practises, and think they really are good at this (whether it results from very hard work or great natural talent, I’m not there to cast people.)
    I do understand why people like and enjoy that aspect of them. I have been watching some other vids from bands who are supposed to be good dancers (Exo?…) and it doesn’t look and feel the same, c’est stéréotypé avec des mouvements de danse qui n’ont rien à faire ni à voir avec la chanson ou la musique et pourrait se coller sur n’importe quel autre morceau.. I guess the word to sum it up is “boring” ^^. Watching these bands makes me yawn in despair after 1 mn: c’est rarement original, toujours hyper-léché au point de rester superficiel et les chorégraphies relèvent de la performance d’endurance de cirque plus que d’un réel feeling.

    All that said, I saw a vid yesterday about them called “BTS, from nobodies to Daesang” and read for the first time about the history of their formation and recrutment etc.. I had no idea things weren’t easy from the start for them, that they had to go through very mean things and rumors etc…(Man, anti-fans can be really mean and awfully stupid!… The worst combination. Le concept même d’anti-fans déjà est socialement fascinant pour moi dans sa très profonde inutilité, révélatrice de la complaisance dans laquelle le/la jeune se vautre et se réalise dans la méchanceté, mais c’est un autre sujet.)
    So, one thing led to another and I ended up watching the vids of their winning awards at MMA and MAMA 2016, and honestly, I found them really really cute and moving in their reactions. It doesn’t mean they won’t turn into arrogant assholes but even if I know all groups have their share of difficult stories from beginning to huge success, it made them appear to me as more likable than just a successful kpop group, and I wish them well.

    Puis Block B reste un cas à part: it is difficult to not be successful and keep existing in that industry. BTS doesn’t have the originality of Block B, so they have to be among the best at more classical kpop to keep existing.

    • Yeah, I definitely think the members of BTS are very talented, and their dances are wonderful. Musically they’re a mixed bag for me, but they nail their songs often enough that I always check out their new music.

      I think the rumors are basically what you always see whenever a new group gets successful–fans of existing groups feel like their group is under threat, so the nastiness begins. I think performers just have to roll with that, especially in K-Pop–it usually doesn’t hurt their careers, and it is often a sign that their career is actually getting somewhere!

      • Yes… isn’t something though? ^^ Haters have always been there but because I’m from a time when you had to send a hate letter to the star you disliked (whatever your motives) without any garanties it would been read, all you could do was to bitch about that person with your friends, locked in your room on a typical teenage afternoon, So it was almost impossible to harm anyone with rumors if you were nobody.
        Now Internet makes it too easy to organize in groups, to leave nasty comments wherever you want and as many times as you want, bullying becomes so easy I guess it always bumps me before I remember it does mean other things as well if the hater community grows (accordingly to the success of the idols/stars they try to trash.) C’est le jeu certes but it must still be pretty painful to read or hear for those targeted even if it doesn’t harm the career…

        • Yeah, I agree–it’s SO MUCH easier for people to organize nowadays and to do things like create false accounts to make themselves look more legitimate. It’s quite disconcerting, especially because it’s not like this has to be limited just to people who don’t like a particular singer. I feel like society hasn’t quite caught up to technology….

          • Yes! If we start to look deeper into all this… Internet seemed like a great idea at first, right? Faster news, easy share, the world is now yours and everyone else’s!… Sometimes, it’s just the devil in disguise. And this time he wears a great outfit!…
            Internet présente des avantages mais qui perdent de plus en plus de terrain face aux multiples inconvénients.

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