Korea Spotlight presents lineup of Korean artists during the 2018 SXSW Music Festival. [Image: SXSW website]

Korea in the Spotlight at South by Southwest Music Festival 2018


Every year, more than 400,000 music fans and musicians from all over the world attend South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. This year’s festival kicked off today, and will continue through March 18. The Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) and K-pop musicians will come to the festival for their sixth annual showcase. Korea Spotlight presents a lineup of Korean artists during the festival, and this year’s lineup includes Lee Hi, KARD, CIFIKA. DPR LIVE, Junoflo, Crush, and Say Sue Me. It will take place at The Belmont this Friday.

Through SXSW, K-pop has gained popularity with US audiences in the past 10 years. In this period, South Korean artists have hit the Billboard 100 chart eight times since the Wonder Girls’ 2009 hit song “Nobody”. South Korean boyband BTS’s two songs also hit the Billboard Hot 100, followed by a performance at the American Music Awards (AMA) and a New Year’s celebration performance in Times Square, New York.

American music brands are also famous in Korea. Ultra Music festival, a Miami-based brand is one example. Since 2012, Ultra Korea has drawn more than 630,000 fans. In 2017, 120,000 fans attended the festival, and more than 25 million Asian viewers tuned in to Ultra livestreams.

In 2014, there were 74,600 Koreans and Korean Americans living in Texas and several Texas cities and towns currently have Korean sister cities. For example, San Antonio with Gwangju, Jeolla-namdo; Austin with Gwangmyong Gyonggi-do; and Pasadena with Bucheon. South Korea is the 5th largest export destination for Texas, accounting for 3.7% of the state’s exports in 2017.

Yeseul Oh is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and an Asan Wahshington Young fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul. She is a student of Kyunghee university in South Korea