K-pop (abbreviation of Korean pop; Hangul: 케이팝) is a genre of popular music originating in South Korea. While the modern form of K-pop can be traced back to the early 90s, the term itself has been popularized since the 2000s, replacing the term Gayo (가요), which also refers to domestic pop music in South Korea. Although it generally indicates “popular music” within South Korea, the term is often used in a narrower sense to describe a modern form of South Korean pop that is influenced by styles and genres from around the world, such as experimental, rock, jazz, gospel, hip hop, R&B, reggae, electronic dance, folk, country, and classical on top of its traditional Korean music roots. The more modern form of the genre emerged with the formation of one of the earliest K-pop groups, Seo Taiji and Boys, in 1992. Their experimentation with different styles and genres of music and integration of foreign musical elements helped reshape and modernize South Korea’s contemporary music scene.
Modern K-pop “idol” culture began with the boy band H.O.T. in 1996, as K-pop grew into a subculture that amassed enormous fandoms of teenagers and young adults. After a slump in early K-pop, from 2003 TVXQ and BoA started a new generation of K-pop idols that broke the music genre into the neighboring Japanese market and continue to popularize K-pop internationally today. With the advent of online social networking services and Korean TV shows, the current spread of K-pop and Korean entertainment, known as the Korean Wave, is seen not only in East Asia and Southeast Asia, but also in Bangladesh, India, Latin America, North Africa, Southern Africa, the Middle East and throughout the Western world, gaining a widespread global audience.