The Influence of BTS and K-Pop Expands to Higher Education in the U.S.

Back in 2018, it was announced that the University of California, Berkeley will add a two-credit course on K-pop superstars BTS, detailing their impact on both the Korean music industry and the rest of the world. The course, 쏯ext Generation Leaders: BTS, intends to 쐃xplore the group셲 history, artistry, philanthropy, and many other aspects in order to analyze their growing impact in society as well as their international success, according to the class description.


The course was initiated by two ARMYs, a term coined by BTS for their fandom, and became a huge success across the UC Berkeley student body as the class filled up rapidly. Many institutions across the US followed suit by adding courses and studies more focused on Korean culture due to growing influence of BTS and other Korean music groups such as BLACKPINK, Monsta X, NCT, and more.


On June 26th of this year, Harvard business professors have also highlighted the overall importance of BTS in modern-day society through a research paper they submitted titled 쏝ig Hit Entertainment and Blockbuster Band BTS: K-Pop Goes Global. The paper delved deeper into the factors that boosted the band셲 popularity and if the same can apply to other groups as well.


The study was submitted by Anita Elberse and Lizzy Woodham, who both teach business administration at Harvard University. The team of researchers visited Seoul in August 2019, where they began their research on the topic.


According to the abstract detailed in the Harvard Business School셲 case collection, much of BTS셲 remarkable feats come from their relationship with Big Hit셲 Bang Si-Hyuk. It states: 쏻hile K-pop has been dominated by three large companies — SM, YG, and JYP — since the mid 1990s, with BTS Bang arguably has created a K-pop phenomenon that is more global than any act the 쁞ig three have ever overseen.


Elberse셲 research notes that the partnership between the BTS members and Bang go beyond their company contracts as their producer strives to sustain a balanced relationship with the group. The paper also contemplates on whether or not the success with BTS can be replicated to other groups, both within the label and out.


Students who are taking Elberse셲 class in the fall semester can expect this study to be referenced in the course curriculum. The paper is also available for purchase on the Harvard Business Review셲 online store.


Julie Kim

Asia Journal

(Los Angeles Times Advertising Supplement)