A screenshot of Allkpop, which offers breaking celebritiy news about K-pop
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
The popularity of K-pop around the world has led to a growing demand for English news and information about idols like Big Bang, TVXQ, 2PM and Girls' Generation.
Addressing this seemingly insatiable appetite for K-pop news is the Web site allkpop.com.
Allkpop.com, a breaking celebrity news and gossip site, was officially launched in October 2007, the brainchild of Johnny Noh and Paul Han. Longtime fans of K-pop music, Noh and Han started to notice a burgeoning interest in K-pop in the U.S. in the mid-2000s.
``We realized there was a lot of interest here in the States, but there weren't any adequate resources for fans to get their information. Since we ourselves are longtime fans of K-pop, we wanted to start a site to help spread this now global phenomenon,'' Noh told The Korea Times in an e-mail interview.
Noh and Han may have started the site as a hobby, but it has now become a full-time business for 6Theory Media, the parent company of Allkpop.
``Our love and interest in K-pop eventually led to the creation of the site. Initially, our work at Allkpop was a hobby, but over the past two years, it has developed into a full-time job and company for both of us. … Now we're doing what we love,'' he said.
Allkpop is one of the most popular sites providing breaking news about K-pop stars, attracting two million visitors a month. It even won Mashable's 2009 Open Web Award for Best Breaking News Site.
The company's core team is composed of Noh, chief executive officer; Han, chief operating officer; Kevin Chang, chief technology officer; Alvin Lim, director of content; and Jenny Tszeng, editor-in-chief. The team evaluates the news leads every day, then gives assignments to its writing team, composed of 10 to 15 part-time bloggers based around the world. Most of its stories are sourced from Korean news sites, but it's a ``give and take'' since some Korean sites also use Allkpop's exclusive stories about Korean artists in the U.S.
Allkpop also tries to keep a good working relationship with the Korean record labels and entertainment companies.
``We are basically the gateway for these artists to reach overseas audiences, and we feel that there's definitely a mutual respect between ourselves and the Korean music industry,'' he said.
The Web site receives an average of two million page views a day from 140,000 visitors in 325,000 visits. Its visitors are mostly female (65 percent), and between the ages of 18 to 34 (47 percent). Over 40 percent of the readers are from the United States, with 10 percent from Canada and 10 percent from Singapore, and the rest from other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom.
Stories about top idol groups like TVXQ, Big Bang, Girls' Generation, Wonder Girls and 2PM typically get the most number of hits.
Perhaps the biggest K-pop story last year was the controversy surrounding Jae-beom, who chose to leave the popular group 2PM after negative comments he made about Korea surfaced.
``I think this hit home the hardest, especially because our audience is primarily located in the U.S., and cultural differences brought forth a wide spectrum of varying opinions regarding the matter,'' Noh said.
The sustained popularity of K-pop among international fans is overwhelming. Noh attributes this to K-pop's catchy music and wide appeal. ``Korea has the idol formula down pat; they are very polished in their mannerisms on stage and in society. Fans are able to fall in love not only with artists' music, but their personalities as well,'' he said.
As a Korean-American, he feels great that millions of fans around the world have embraced Korean culture and entertainment.
``Music really has no boundaries and I think in the years ahead of us, K-pop will definitely help eliminate a lot of the Asian stereotypes, here in the States,'' he said.