5 Lessons K-pop and Korean Reality Shows can Teach Small Business Owners

As we might have already known, Korean entertainment has gone global. It’s a phenomenon much talk about in the media, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight what small business owners – wherever they are – can learn from at least two of many niches in Korean entertainment industry: Reality Shows and K-pop.


Okay, I wasn’t a fan of Korean entertainment, but my wife has got me to listen to K-pop and watch Korean drama. I never really like Korean drama, but I did watch some, anyway. K-pop? Never crossed my mind that I will enjoy listening to it.

To cut long story short, I was converted into a fan of nearly everything Korean – food, reality shows, K-pop, drama, talk shows, etc.

I listen to K-pop’s Girl’s Generation, Big Bang, Orange Caramel, Super Junior, PSY, Kim Jongkook and so on. I watch reality shows, like Family Outing, Running Man, Barefoot Friends and so on. A year ago, I have no idea who they are.

The main reason? I admire how they do things… I admire the selection process of how someone – out of thousands applicants – is chosen to be one of the member of a girl/boy group. I admire how Korean dramas and reality shows, in subtlety, highlights Korean point of interests and tourist attractions.

And Korean entertainment knows how to do Inbound Marketing: They don’t have to do hard-selling; they just present something people will love, somehow. The impact? Worldwide.

As a business owner, I learn many things from Korean Entertainment – so, let me share some lessons learned from K-pop and the reality shows…

1. They publish videos on popular video sites

PSY’s Gangnam Style, anyone? 1.7 billion views on YouTube can’t go wrong. But PSY is just the tip of the iceberg; other K-pop music videos (MV) has millions of views on them.

Korean reality shows, like Running Man is fan-subbed (translated voluntarily by fans) – no wonder the show has worldwide fan base in Asia, Europe and U.S.

The bottom line, they use videos to “market” their “products” – even without selling anything.

Lesson learned: Video marketing is yet to be saturated and the opportunities are still wide open for you to capitalize on them. Create video to showcase your product – your potential customers are out there.

2. They have strong fan base

Fan bases are the key in Korean entertainment – especially K-pop. They are well-organized and typically strong followers. Not only in South Korea, fan bases exist worldwide.

Lesson learned: Words of mouth 2.0 is the way to go – social media is the best place to get your brand buzzed and if you are not capitalizing on social networks, you are missing out – big time!

3. They are multi-talented and well-trained

Want to be a K-pop star? Get ready to compete with thousands of others through tough selection process. Looks are important but skills are well-sought-after. Did you know that to qualify for a spot in an agency you need to be exceptional in dance, sing and act? And even if you did chosen to be in an agency, you can get stuck in it for years.

Furthermore, did you know that when you are signed up by an agency, you will be well-equipped with various skills, such as learning non-native languages, such as English, Chinese and Japanese? How about acting classes? All the expenses are paid-for and you even get paid to do so.

Lesson learned: If you want a successful small business, you need to well-equipped yourself and your team with the necessary skills. You need to be multi-faceted and able to wear many hats. You need to embrace kaizen (continuous learning) and embrace it as a lifelong commitment – just like the entrepreneurship itself.

4. They are hard working

Korean are one of the most hard working countries in the world. Their work-ethic is exemplary. Korean artists are hard workers – even too hard in such a way that their work ethic can lead to unhealthy life.

Lesson learned: There is no other way… if you want success, you need to work hard. There’s no shortcut – when you want successes, you need to work harder and smarter than most people.

5. They have strong management team

Korean artists are typically having their own managers. In an agency, everything is well-organized and well-managed from top to bottom. The agency takes care of everything: Schedules, deals, and so on.

Lessons learned: It’s simple – a strong management team makes things easier for you to achieve your goals.


There are so much more you can learn from Korean entertainment. One thing for sure, they know how to capitalize on their assets well. Want to follow their footsteps? If so, then you need to be able to turn what you have into competitive advantages.

Ivan Widjaya
Founder/CEO Biz Penguin

Photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea via photopin cc