Foreign YouTubers making content about KPOP: real curiosity or marketing stunts?

Korean media outlet Dailian analyzed the new KPOP reaction trend on YouTube.

Contents of foreign YouTubers who are curious about or respond positively to Korean culture, food, and places are becoming popular these days. The rise in global popularity of third-generation KPOP idol groups such as BTS, BLACKPINK, and Stray Kids also contributed to the trend of overseas YouTubers reacting to their songs and dances.

The fact that Korea’s unique content is recognized and raises curiosity in various countries also seems interesting to Koreans, which is why KPOP related videos have become trendy content that can attract the attention of domestic subscribers. Currently, as not only K-pop but also K-movies and dramas are booming around the world, the size of the channels of foreign YouTubers who introduce and react to them is growing.

Among them, the YouTuber who is definitely at the forefront is Josh of the channel “Korean Englishman.” He usually introduced Korean food to his friends and acquaintances and recorded their reactions. His collaboration video with Walt Disney Company Korea, which had the Avengers actors try Korean food, recorded 22.84 million views, another video with foreigners eating Korean grilled pork belly for the first time has 21.68 million views , and 15.2 million views were recorded for a video of British people trying Korean chicken and beer. His recent series having British kids eating various Korean foods for the first time also has from 4 million to 12 million views for each video.

Foreign YouTubers making content about KPOP

Eventually, Josh opened a store in London, England, selling Korean toast. The British man said that no one had sold Korean toast in London for eight years, so he opened the store with his wife. The video about this also received better-than-expected responses with 3.75 million views, and 8,605 comments from not only Koreans but also British people. Koreans mostly respond that they are proud and happy that the food they eat in their daily lives is introduced to British people. Currently, his channel has more comments from subscribers from various nationalities who are interested in Korea, compared to mostly Korean subscribers in its early days.

Josh, a British man who started in 2013 and made his name known in Korea, came up with new ideas and applied it to the channel operation method as more and more people started to make Korea-related content.

As the channel “Korean Englishman” gained popularity, “Soviet girl in Seoul” parodied it, saying “People say I’m making profit on Korean nationalism. That’s right. I will also make use of Korean nationalism and become popular like ‘Korean Englishman’”. This video of hers gained popularity as a black comedy video with indiscriminate praise for Korean culture and the concept of foreign YouTubers introducing Korean culture. 

When soccer player Ronaldo visited Korea in 2019, he posted a video of him burning Ronaldo’s T-shirt when controversy arose, drawing enthusiastic responses from Koreans. In addition, the problems of Korean society are satirized according to Korean sentiment.

When soccer player Ronaldo visited Korea in 2019, when there was a controversy over his no-show at a friendly match, he uploaded a video of him burning a ‘Ronaldo 7’ shirt, drawing a hot response from Koreans. In addition, it satirizes the problems of Korean society in accordance with the Korean sentiment.

Moreover, American ‘World of Dave’, Spanish ‘Project Jang Min’, American ‘Mister American’, Nepalese ‘Sujan’s cultural exchange’, and French ‘Bonjour Hello’ are other famous foreign YouTubers introducing Korea, forming a close bond with subscribers.

Foreign YouTubers making content about KPOP

However, giving praise without context and lack of concerns about developing sincere content only to earn more views has caused fatigue for the viewers. For example, as reaction videos to BTS became a trend, hundreds of foreign YouTubers reviewed their music from 2018 to 2021, with the same curious eyes and exclaiming how they admire BTS’s performance skills.

There are countless reaction videos of foreign YouTubers that seem to have been filmed with the only change being the song. BTS’s global popularity has been constantly used as a tool for content creators to induce views. 

Lee Min-ji (29), who frequently watches foreign YouTubers’ videos, said, “It’s fun and proud to see the good things in Korea, talented singers, and delicious food are being shared with people all over the world. Foreign YouTubers seem to make good use of Korean people’s tendency to be recognized. But now it’s saturated. In particular, there are many cases where Korean subtitles are not included in videos targeting Koreans. Moreover, content full of only compliments seems to lack sincerity. Rather than introducing and promoting the actual culture, there are cases where they just shout “Fantastic”. I wonder if they will switch to other content as soon as their interest and popularity in Korea wanes.” 


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