With the growing international popularity of groups like Girls' Generation and singers such as Psy, K-pop schools for teenagers with stars in their eyes are mushrooming, the New York Times reported on Saturday. Their numbers are estimated to reach thousands.
"Even though there is no official tally of the number of schools teaching children and teenagers to become pop entertainers, industry officials all agree that it is on the rise. Even traditional private music and dance schools -- more accustomed to teaching Bach and ballet -- have switched their curriculums to get with the pop plan," the NYT said.
In a survey of primary and secondary school students late last year, entertainers, along with doctors and teachers, ranked highly among desirable jobs, it added.
The paper attributed the boom to the exponential growth of K-pop. The combined sales of the nation's top three entertainment agencies -- JYP, SM and YG -- increased 3.5-fold from W106.6 billion in 2009 to W362.9 billion last year (US$1=W1,112).
Another factor is the changing perception of such a career among parents. They used to be solely focused on seeing their kids gain admittance to a prestigious university. But the international success of golfers like Pak Se-ri, figure skater Kim Yu-na and singer Psy opened parents' eyes to new possibilities for their offspring.
In the past, "Entertainment was considered an inferior profession and its practitioners belittled with the derogatory nickname 'tantara.' Now, in college, pop music is one of the most coveted majors, where it's [called] 'practical music.'" the daily said.
But critics point out that the nation "is producing cookie cutter performances: perfectly synchronized dances, catchy songs and outfits and chiseled but forgettable features," the NYT added.Read this article in Korean