That connective power of K-pop’s fandoms was widely recognised during the summer as the world’s media turned its attention to those who helped humiliate Donald Trump at his own rally, and the hundreds of thousands that supported Black Lives Matter protests using fancams to swamp racist Twitter hashtags and snitch apps. The most potent fandom in the world at present – BTS’s Army – also made their own headlines when they matched the group’s $1 million donation to the BLM movement, and, in terms of music, gave the Grammy-nominated BTS a year to never forget with their first US number one single (“Dynamite”), and two number one albums (BE and Map of the Soul: 7).
BTS weren’t alone in the charts, however; SuperM and BLACKPINK (named Hitmakers of the Year by Variety) peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 200, with the girl group also reaching the penultimate spot on the UK charts. This is just a fragment of what South Korea’s idols accomplished over the past 12 months on an impressive global scale. We no longer need to debate if K-pop has found a place for itself in the mainstream. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. And these are its singles that made a rough year a little easier to bear.