The latest Korean sensation to hit the globe can undoubtedly be captured in a singular syllable and rodeo dance: Psy. Gangnam Style hit 100 million views on Youtube just 52 days from its release. It is the 5th most viral video of all time, beloved by all genders from Indonesia to Brazil, from T-Pain to Josh Groban. In terms of views and social media popularity, it beats Kony 2012 and Justin Bieber. Given that a Youtube partner gets $2.50 per thousand views, Psy has made $2,500 in passive income from Youtube alone—pocket change for someone of his fame.
Interestingly, Psy wasn’t even on Forbes Korea’s top 40 Korean celebrities list this year. Many in the top 10 are idol singers winning their own fame outside of Korea, even in tension-riddled Japan and China. K-pop is spreading to New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris, where flash mobs passionately request their performances. Here are the top 10 from Forbes.
- Girls’ Generation needs no introduction, though they are generally called by their Korean name Sonyeo Shidae, Shojo Jidai (in Japanese), ShoShi, or SNSD. They’ve been unstoppable since their 2009 hit “Gee,” the longest running number one song on KBS Music Bank and, by some votes, song of the decade.
- Big Bang’s hit song Lies stayed on K-pop charts for a groundbreaking seven consecutive weeks. Their popularity has crossed cultural tensions to Japan, particularly between 2009 and 2010 when they became the first foreign group given the “Best Newcomer” and “Best New Artist” awards from Japan Cable Broadcasting Station and MTV Japan, respectively. Beloved and lauded by music industry veterans for member G-dragon’s composing and production, fans worldwide cheered when the band returned after a two-year hiatus in 2011.
- IU believes “I” and “You” can become one through music. Affectionately called South Korea’s “little sister,” IU went on her first solo tour this summer and ambitiously released a 26-minute, documentary-style video for her song, “Peach.”
- KARA derives its name from the Greek word for sweet melody. Like many artists, their first album The First Blooming was poorly received by the public. And now they’re number four on Forbes Korea. That’s girl power.
- Kim Yuna is a world champion figure skater and Olympic gold medalist with a charming smile and quite a record. She’s the first female skater to win the following: Olympic Games, World Championships, Four Continents Championships, and the Grand Prix Final.
- Lee Seung Gi also made it to CNN’s top 20 hottest males (and who can say otherwise, with that sweet, sweet grin?). He’s perhaps best known as the MC for Strong Heart.
- Park Ji Sung is the former captain of the Korean National Soccer Team and claims fame as the midfielder for Manchester United.
- Kim Tae Hee is a model and actress, well known for her roles in Korean dramas like Iris, Love Story in Harvard, and Stairway to Heaven.
- B2ST, or Beast, was formed in 2009 as a six-member boy band comprised of “recycled material,” as the media has affectionately said. Over time, the band garnered enough attention to win the Bonsang award at the Seoul Music Awards in 2011 and 2012.
- Park Tae Hwan is the second Olympic gold medalist on this list, this time for swimming the 400 meter freestyle. It’s worth noting that he’s the first Asian swimmer to take home the gold from that event.
Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for mortgagerates.info. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a degree in business and communications. Her current focus for the site involves mortgage rates forecasts.