By Andy Meek
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un can angrily denounce K-pop as a “vicious cancer” all he wants. It’s not just that pop music has become one of the most beloved exports from his neighbor to the south, but the same holds true for pretty much the entirety of South Korean popular culture — everything from movies to music and TV shows, which have combined to form a staggeringly massive entertainment industry juggernaut, with few if any equals.
Netflix, for example, recognizes this and is currently pouring millions of dollars into funding new original Korean dramas and movies, like the newly released emotional masterpiece Move to Heaven, about a “trauma cleaner” and his uncle who pack up the belongings of people who’ve died and help their families to move on. All told, Netflix reportedly plans to spend half a billion dollars in 2021 on South Korean content, which also coincides with a moment that finds South Korean pop groups (like Blackpink and BTS) being among the biggest in the world. Those two groups, in particular, have millions of global fans and incomprehensibly massive audiences across social media — which might explain why the four members of Blackpink, in particular, got their own documentary treatment on Netflix, via their movie Light Up The Sky. Meanwhile, technology is also helping point toward a futuristic and potentially even more lucrative new chapter for Korean pop music. Case in point is the new K-pop group called Eternity, which recently made its debut via the song I’m Real, although this 11-member girl group is much different from anything else in the K-pop universe right now.
That’s because, with apologies to the message conveyed by Eternity’s debut song, the members are, in fact, not real. This new K-pop group, which is the product of AI graphics company Pulse 9, was created using deepfake technology to simulate hyper-realistic images of faux K-pop stars in the vein of some of the genre’s biggest female acts, a la Blackpink, Red Velvet, and Itzy.
“Unlike human singers,” Pulse 9 CEO Park Ji-eun told the South China Morning Post, “AI members can freely express themselves and weigh in on diverse social issues because they are less vulnerable to malicious comments and criticisms. As a creator, I can also add more fantastical and (impactful) elements to them, making them more distinguishable from existing K-pop acts.”
Continue reading… “Watch: This new K-pop group was created with AI and deepfake technology”