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Tea Leaves

Has K-pop's global march lost rhythm?

Musical arm of the cool Korean wave is only marking time

Blackpink performs at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, U.S., in August 2022. Half of the songs on the South Korean group's latest album have entirely English-language lyrics, while the others are a mix of Korean and English.   © Getty Images

Facing the giant pair of bronze hands that stands outside the Starfield COEX Mall in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam district, I felt dwarfed by the power of South Korea’s most celebrated cultural export.

Although it was my first visit to the country, I knew what those odd hands meant. They glorify the "Gangnam Style" dance, a 2012 hit song by the South Korean pop sensation PSY, which became a global earworm. It was the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views, sending South Korean pop music into the history books.

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