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Gangnam Style: Three Reasons K-Pop Is Taking Over The World

Gangnam Style is, among other things, a high-tech, sophisticated export.

Yes, the video is totally crazy and awesome. But this is not some viral fluke. Korea has been building up to this moment for 20 years.

Here are three reasons Korean pop music is taking over the world:

1) Korea decided to produce pop music like it produces cars. Industrialize and focus on exports. Korea's a small country-- any industry that wants to get big has to look outside.

2) Korean record labels transformed the way music was released. From the beginning, new songs debuted on national television, not on the radio, like was done traditionally over here. That means the moment Koreans started listening to Korean pop music-- they were listening through their screens. They were watching their music.

3) Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world. So early on in their development, record labels had to get good at YouTube. And they kind of perfected it. YouTube videos by Korean record labels were so good, they got tons of views overseas. And that's how the record labels knew where to tour their acts. They knew their customers wanted them before they even got there.

"Gangnam Style" is what happens when a developing country becomes developed. An infrastructure to make and export culture can develop, too.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

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