The relationship between K-pop and the movie industry is easy — they both benefit and influence one another nicely.
According to the Korea Content Creative Agency’s annual report, Korean pop music has grown into a giant business with the rise of the K-pop wave abroad. So much so that the K-pop industry generated $3.6 billion at home and $277 million abroad in 2013 with the number of K-pop events rising across the globe. That’s good news as those globally red-hot K-pop stars’ presence can boost not only the box office performance of a movie, but also its international sales.
Japan’s Clock Works, which distributed K-pop idol Kim Jae-joong-starring comedy drama “Code Name Jackal” in Japan in 2012, said, “We expected that Kim, the hottest K-pop star in Japan, playing an A-list character in this film to bring in more admissions.”
The interindustry crossover can also be attributed to the casting and training system in K-pop. In Korea, idol bands are rarely considered serious musicians, since many of them become stars primarily because of their looks. Good-looking teenagers are recruited by scouts off the street, then turned over to casting managers to polish them into figureheads of K-pop groups. Also, there are more K-pop bands debuting each year than new actors, meaning that actor-wannabes have more chance to debut as a member of a K-pop band first, and then branch out into acting. By doing so, they can always go back and pursue their initial acting passion with established popularity.
“We scout trainees, whether their strengths are singing, dancing or acting. We train and support our artists to shine in any field of showbiz, spanning K-pop, TV drama and film,” a spokesperson of JYP Entertainment told Variety.
The two industries’ matching demands have tightened the bonds and have left some remarkable success: 2012 romance drama “Architecture 101” became one of the year’s biggest releases, owing to the idol actor sensation, Suzy of K-pop girl band Miss A; while youth comedy “Twenty,” starring a member of acrobatic dance group 2PM’s Jun-ho in the lead, also made a moderate hit.
“I have no prejudice against them,” says “The Avian Kind” director Shin Yeon-shick. Shin has worked with a slew of idol-turned-actors including MBLAQ’s Lee Joon (“Rough Play”), F(x)’s Krystal (“Listen to My Song”) and Sista’s Da-som (“Like a French Film”). “They have fair passion for acting. Also, they know how to make the best use of their body, which is important for actors, probably because they’re well trained to carry the notoriously difficult K-pop choreography.”