Recently, Melon, South Korea's largest music streaming platform, has been under fire for labeling K-Pop groups under "J-Pop." Currently, Melon displays the genre 'J-Pop' under K-Pop artists such as BTS, BLACKPINK, TWICE, and Seventeen.
According to the online platform on November 29th, any K-Pop artist who has a history of activities or promotions in Japan will be labeled under J-Pop on Melon music despite the group or artist being K-pop singers.
The profile for the globally popular K-Pop group BTS shows the genres listed as "Group| Rap/Hip-Hop, J-POP, Dance" displayed on the first page of the "artist" menu. This goes for BLACKPINK, TWICE, Seventeen, TXT, and more. The K-Pop groups are listed under J-POP only on Melon music. Genie Music, Bugs Music, FLO, and Vibe do not have these artists listed under this genre. Google's YouTube also does not classify these artists under J-Pop either.
Melon explained that the label does not distinguish the genres but is being used to mark which artists have been active in Japan and sold albums in Japan. They explained, "The labels are not a distinction between genres but to mark the artists who have released albums in Japan. The artists' detailed information marks they are from Korea."
Still, there are many who state that listing the K-pop groups with global popularity such as BTS, BLACKPINK, and TWICE as J-pop is "too much." Many are concerned that these Korean singers who are promoting K-Pop could be recognized and focused only on the Japanese activities they have done.
Many in the music industry are saying that it is difficult to classify the Japanese albums released by the K-Pop groups as J-Pop even if they have released the album in Japan and performed in Japan. If the artist has only released an album in Japan exclusively, then it can be labeled as J-Pop but it can cause confusion and misunderstanding if the genre is displayed prominently on the front page of the artists' information. This is especially so for Melon because Melon also marks Japanese artists under J-Pop. For this reason, other music streaming sites do not mark "J-Pop" for Korean artists.
Upon hearing the news that "J-Pop" was listed on K-Pop artists' information, there were many fans who expressed their anger.
Fans protested on Twitter and other social networking sites along with online communities. One BTS fan wrote on Twitter "Just because a foreign song is popular in Korea doesn't make that song a K-Pop. We don't even need an explanation from Melon, we just need a correction from them."
Another netizen wrote "So Melon put in J-Pop in the front profile for the artists. Isn't it wrong to write on the artists' profile category that they are J-Pop just because they released albums in Japan? They are Korean artists."
Netizens are more sensitive towards this issue because of China's 'Northeast Project' and Google's 'Sea of Japan' issue. Recently, there has been controversy as Chinese netizens began claiming the Korean Hanbok as Chinese. This caused the Chinese mobile game 'Shining Nikki' to discontinue their services in Korea.
Experts also warned that the controversy over the labeling K-Pop artists under J-Pop could have an unexpectedly strong impact. For example, there is a possibility that Korean artists participating in the "2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards" (MAMA), which will be held on the 2nd of next month, maybe mistaken as representing the J-Pop genre. Some say that BTS's performance, which was nominated for the 63rd Grammy Awards "Best POP Duo and Group Performance," could also be undervalued due to related issues.
An official from the pop culture community stated, "It is surprising that Melon, which is a service that represents domestic Korean music streaming platforms, has labeled K-Pop artists under J-Pop. In particular, Melon is preparing for the Melon Music Awards so they need to seriously consider the related issues."