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There have been critical responses in South Korea regarding the identity of the genre since its ascendance. Some of the notable music critics in the region have criticized K-pop as “a industrial label mainly designed to promote the national brand in the global market from the beginning” and argued that it was “not formed spontaneously as a pop culture but created with the orchestrated plan led by the government with commercial considerations” although in fact “the genre has practically no ties with traditional Korean identity”. There’s also a perspective that the name of the genre was derived from J-pop.

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K-Pop has at times faced criticisms from journalists who perceive the music to be formulaic and unoriginal. Some K-Pop groups have been accused of plagiarizing Western music acts as well as other musical acts. In addition, K-Pop has been criticized for its reliance on English phrases, with critics dubbing the use of English in titles “meaningless”.

K-Pop groups have been regularly accused of cultural appropriation of cultures such as African-American culture, especially due to the frequent use of cornrows and bandanas in idol groups’ on-stage styling. K-Pop groups have also been accused of appropriating Native American and Indian cultures. However, debate exists about whether the borrowing of cultural elements from cultures outside of Korea indeed constitutes cultural appropriation, or if this cultural appropriation is negative at all. Scholar Crystal S. Anderson writes that “[a]ppropriating elements of a culture by taking them out of their original context and using them in a completely different way does not automatically constitute negative cultural appropriation.”

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