Sweeping across Asia and several other countries around the world is a boy band from South Korea who has got such a strong following from its international fandom that the likes of One Direction, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift couldn’t quite hold a candle to them. It’s a remarkable achievement for a singing group that most Americans still probably haven’t heard about, and whose genre of Korean or K-Pop (though they in particular don’t quite like the label) has only recently been officially listed in Spotify and Apple iTunes. They’re called Big Bang, and their name best describes the intensity of their success.
To put it in perspective with help from The Washington Post, their recent M.A.D.E. album tour saw them perform 18 concerts in Japan alone that sold about 910,000 tickets total. Against that, Taylor Swift’s 2.3 million tickets sold seem impressive, but she needed to perform 83 shows on her own tour to get that many. Looking at the spread, there’s no contest.
Aside from the usual Korean entertainer stomping grounds of Asia, Big Bang has gone on to perform in Canada, Mexico and the US – LA, Vegas and even as far east as New Jersey. About the only other South Korean talent that can match their most number-one singles on Billboard’s World Digital Songs Chart is fellow YG Entertainment label heavy hitter Park Jae-Sang, aka PSY.
They’re just so awesome and catchy that one of their trademark songs, “Bang, Bang, Bang”, has the rather dubious honor of being blasted by the South Korean military on massive speaker banks in the Demilitarized Zone all the way across the border to North Korea, as part of the propaganda conflict between the two nations.
Indeed, Big Bang has been on the summit of success for the ten years that they have been together. But now according to CNN those halcyon days may soon end. The members are approaching the upper limit of the age range when all South Korean males over 18 must mandatorily enlist and serve in the military for 21 months. Member T.O.P., the eldest of the band at 28 years old, will likely be call up for duty first with G-Dragon and Taeyang, both a year younger, might be serving in 2017.
The imminent conscription hangs like a cloud over the group these days, something they’d rather not talk much about. T.O.P. however, tries his best to keep his and everyone’s spirits up by saying in a CNN interview:";It's not about what will happen if I am gone for a while, but more about being positive, (I want to) just do well with what I am doing right now without thinking too much. Let's have a new start when I come back with that kind of positive mind."
The members of Big Bang have dabbled in solo careers while still keeping the group together, and Taeyang is sure that not even conscription will stop them from reuniting when it’s over. "If it was the end of Big Bang, we wouldn't be laughing while doing this interview right now," is his take on it.
Photo Credit to YouTube