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Korean pop music is breaking US records and winning fans across the globe

The latest episode of our Netflix show, Explained, dives into the cultural phenomenon behind hugely popular K-pop acts like the boy band BTS.

The boy band BTS made history this week by becoming the first K-pop act to have an album debut at the top of the Billboard charts.

BTS has inspired legions of devoted fans across the globe — who call themselves the ARMY — even though many don’t even understand Korean lyrics. The group was, collectively, the most tweeted-about celebrity in 2017. And they’re part of a larger music and culture trend that has become a global phenomenon (remember “Gangnam Style”?) and a $5 billion industry.

So how has Korean pop culture taken hold from the US to Finland to India?

Vox tackled this question in the fourth episode of our new show with Netflix, Explained. We’ll have new episodes every Wednesday, on topics ranging from gene editing to diets and more. If you like our videos, then you’ll love this show; it’s our most ambitious video project to date.

To watch, search “Explained” on Netflix or go to Click the “My List” button to make sure you don’t miss an episode!

Learn more:

How K-pop became a global phenomenon (Aja Romano)

BTS Goes to No. 1 on Billboard’s Album Chart, a First For K-Pop (Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR)

Meet the Fans of BTS: Profiles of American ARMY (Tamar Herman, whom we interviewed for this episode, Billboard)

K-Pop Legend Seo Taiji Holds 25th Anniversary Concert, Passes Torch to BTS (Tamar Herman, Billboard)

Primary and Suran Just Became South Korea’s Catchiest Social Critics (Jakob Dorof interviews Primary, who we also interviewed in this episode, for Noisey)

Epik High Reflects on ‘We’ve Created Something Wonderful,’ Channeling Groot & the ‘Miracle’ of K-Pop (Tamar Herman interviews hip-hop trio Epik High, whom we also interviewed for this episode)

De-Nationalization and Re-Nationalization of Culture: The Globalization of K-Pop (Gyu Tag Lee, whom we also interviewed for this episode)

How these 7 Korean 20-somethings became a pop music phenomenon bringing in millions (Ali Montag, CNBC)

The $4.7 Billion K-Pop Industry Chases Its ‘Michael Jackson Moment’ (Sohee Kim, Bloomberg)

Russian Figure Skater Evgenia Medvedeva Reveals K-Pop Stars EXO Pump Her Up Before Skating (Nina Braca, Billboard)

Gangnam Style music video ‘broke’ YouTube view limit (BBC News)

How BTS Are Breaking K-Pop’s Biggest Taboos (Jae-Ha Kim, Rolling Stone)