Every year, the South Korean music industry serves up a wide array of music that spreads its reach across the globe, experimenting with the limitations of popular music. The past 12 months, however, were transformative for reasons beyond the music: long-overdue conversations regarding the unjust structural and social issues became unavoidable. We went into the year disillusioned by idol culture and facing the grim realities of power dynamics in South Korea, and are coming out with increasingly loud cries to protect our idols , particularly women. With the world now truly entering what is largely being called the "Fourth Wave of K-pop", we are looking at an industry standing on the precipice of much-needed change: in terms of how it treats its stars, how they connect with fans, and how its existence is gradually becoming a normal part of global music culture. Taking this all into account, we put our heads together to determine what were the stand-out songs coming out of the Korean scene amid all of this. Focusing on singles, we named the top 25 songs of and shared our thoughts below. It turns out: yes, and resoundingly so.
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Korean artists made some of the most creative tracks this year. These are a few of our favorites. Skip navigation! Story from Music.