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Title Blackswan: The K-pop girl group with no Korean members
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  • 2023-08-30 17:28:08
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          Blackswan is the first K-pop girl group with no Korean membersBlackswan is the first K-pop girl group with no Korean membersBlackswan is the first K-pop girl               group with no Korean membersBlackswan is the first K-pop girl group with no Korean members

By Yuna Ku
BBC Korean

Donning sari-inspired clothing and intricate jewellery, four young women are seen dancing energetically at a temple. Then, gulal, a colourful powder used in traditional rituals, is spread across the sky and onto their faces.

This is not a Bollywood movie but the latest music video of K-pop girl group Blackswan.

Blackswan is currently the only K-pop girl group without any Korean members that has made its debut in South Korea. In 2017, an all-American K-pop boy band, Exp Edition, debuted in South Korea but they are no longer active.

It is not unusual for K-pop groups to have foreign members, typically from other Asian countries. One of K-pop's biggest girl group, Blackpink, has a member from Thailand.

But apart from Blackswan member Sriya, who hails from India, none of the other band members are from Asia. Fatou grew up in Senegal and Belgium, Gabi is Brazilian-German and NVee comes from the US.

As the genre continues to globalise, the girl group has become part of a growing conversation about the definition of K-pop - and whether they fall within it.

"They are affiliated with a Korean entertainment company, debuted in South Korea, and sing in Korean," said one commenter, suggesting they should be defined as K-pop.

Other Koreans, however, are less positive. "Without [them actually being] Korean, they are just a pop group."

Blackswan are unfazed by such comments.

They say they identify as a K-pop group and sing in Korean.

It is an argument that will likely continue to divide Korea, as the government plans to launch a two-year "K-culture training visa", enabling foreigners to undergo K-pop training,

Blackswan's atypical line-up was not by design initially and reflects the trajectory of the development of the genre.

The group's predecessor is Rania, which launched in 2011. It was made up of six Koreans and a Thai - though its membership experienced significant changes over the years.

In 2020, music company DR Music decided to rebrand Rania into Blackswan, with Fatou being the only one from its original line-up.

"Some people might find it strange and even dislike the group for not having any Korean members," Philip YJ Yoon, managing director at DR Music, told the BBC.

"However, we saw the opportunity in the expanding K-pop market."

More on this story - https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-66541773

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