BLACKPINK Lisa is a foreign idol with the greatest influence in K-pop history.
Let’s start the article with a few quizzes. Who is the person with the most views on YouTube within 24 hours among solo singers worldwide? Which K-pop soloist has the most solo streams on the world’s largest music streaming platform, Spotify? Who was the first K-pop solo musician to win at the US MTV Video Music Awards and MTV Europe Music Awards? Among the singers active in Korea and among K-pop stars, who has the most Instagram followers? The answer to all these spectacular questions is the same. Only one person holds all these Guinness World Records. It is Lalisa Manoban, a member of BLACKPINK and a Thai K-pop idol.
Lisa is a foreign idol with the greatest influence in K-pop history. Lisa is not just a celebrity from Southeast Asia, and her popularity cannot be confined to the category of “foreign idol.”
Lisais one of the most worldwide celebrities and one of the idols with the greatest solo power. Lisa has over 90 million Instagram followers. To put this into perspective, she ranks within the top 40 Instagram accounts globally and has more followers than famous Dua Lipa and the queen of Latin pop, Shakira.
BLACKPINK Jennie reminisced about the moment she met Lisa in the documentary “BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky” and said, “She’s a friend who is naturally good at this.” The word “naturally” is the most appropriate term to describe Lisa.
She possesses all the talents required to perform on stage. In a discussion about idol skills, it has been said that idols can never match the experts in each element that makes up a performance. However, Lisa is an exception. She raps skillfully and dances so well that she receives praise from professional dancers. Her slim figure, small face, and swaggering style add an overwhelming aura to her performance quality. She is an idol born to stand on stage.
Idols are composed of various identities, but the idol that K-pop has emphasized and nurtured through its own history, as well as its spearhead for overseas expansion, is the idol on stage, the “performer.”
In the case of girl groups, the latest version that embodies this concept is the “girl crush.” Lisa is the embodiment of a perfect performer and girl crush. Lisa represents the competitiveness of K-pop, which has become a global genre through the audio-visual appeal of “watching music” and performances, and she has contributed to the globalization of K-pop through her own journey to become a star.
Some claim that Lisa’s extraordinary numbers on social media and YouTube originate from the Southeast Asian population. Just as it would be disrespectful to demean Shakira as a Latin American superstar, why is it that being a Southeast Asian K-pop idol is mentioned as diminishing Lisa’s global status?
K-pop is not simply a globally recognized music industry rooted in Korea’s identity. Rather, it is an industry that assimilates genres, industrial systems, and cultural aspects from various countries. It represents the music industry in Asia and rides the wave of fan enthusiasm from each country.
Lisa’s Thai fans are highly sensitive to how she is treated by YG Entertainment and the internal K-pop industry, often launching strong online protests.
However, this is a universal aspect of nationalism. It is no different from Koreans immediately denouncing the problems Son Heung-min faces in the English Premier League as racial discrimination.
The friction between Lisa, her Southeast Asian fans, and Korean fans reflects the phenomenon of global localization in today’s world, revealing how each country’s nationalism combines and conflicts within the global K-pop scene.
Two points need to be emphasized. First, K-pop has become the “EPL of Asian music industry,” creating exceptional passion among the citizens of Asian countries by sending their representative players. The other point is that Lalisa played a unique role in enabling K-pop to achieve such global competitiveness. Korean fandom and industry insiders should show more respect for Lisa.