Why BTS, Aespa, TXT, Exo and NCT 127 are having adventures in space as K-pop meets science fiction
- Many recent K-pop releases have featured spaceships and space-opera-style plots. BTS even went out of this world in online events celebrating their anniversary
- Some sci-fi instances in K-pop incorporate ongoing storylines throughout a band’s career, while others explore the concept for a one-off moment of fictive fun
K-pop stars often experiment with creative concepts and narratives. In recent weeks, the genre has been full of futuristic, science-fiction-fuelled material from many of the biggest groups.
Storytelling across different mediums is used by K-pop acts to captivate their audiences and, as the industry grows and becomes more popular across the globe, artists and their companies are constantly finding new ways to up their levels of engagement.
Aliens and space come up once in a while in K-pop music videos, and there are many songs based around similar themes. This year, it feels like every other group is looking beyond pandemic-ridden Earth towards extraterrestrial and fantastical concepts for inspiration.
Meanwhile, Everglow’s First and TXT’s concept trailer for their The Chaos Chapter: Freeze album have featured the groups wielding supernatural powers.
Two anniversary concerts in June by BTS, celebrating the band’s bond with their fans over the past eight years, also took an out-of-this-world turn.
Some sci-fi instances in K-pop incorporate ongoing storylines throughout a band’s career, while others explore the concept for a one-off moment of fictive fun.
Don’t Fight the Feeling is said to be the musical sequel to their 2017 single Power, which had a music video in which the members battle against a machine on another planet.
Many SM bands have been adding elements of sci-fi world building and storytelling into their content as of late, but Aespa – a girl group with avatar counterparts that the human members interact with on various forms of media – are the current focal point.
Music is only one realm within South Korea’s entertainment world that’s seeing a lot of love for science fiction and genre content.
While fantasy and supernatural creatures often appear in K-dramas and films, sci-fi is less prominent. This year and 2020, however, saw a handful of otherworldly space- and time-travel-fuelled K-dramas, while this year also saw the success of Space Sweepers, which is considered South Korea’s first space opera blockbuster film. The movie reportedly reached 26 million Netflix household viewers in the first month of its release. In May, it was announced that a sequel is in the works, coinciding with many of these K-pop releases.
Science fiction books have also surged in popularity in recent years, including Kim Cho-yeop’s 2019 bestselling short stories collection If We Can’t Go at the Speed of Light. An increasing number of Korean sci-fi books, including Tower by Bae Myung-hoon, have even been translated into English for overseas audiences in recent years.