Music programs of South Korea

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Music programs of South Korea are broadcast weekly, with different artists performing on the shows to promote their music.[1]

South Korea's largest broadcasting companies each have their own show, which are broadcast on different channels. SBS has Inkigayo, KBS has Music Bank, MBC has Show! Music Core, Mnet has M Countdown, MBC Music has Show Champion and SBS MTV has The Show.

Music programs[edit]


Past music programs[edit]

  • Top 10 Songs aired on KBS from February 10, 1981 to February 11, 1998. Its popularity in South Korea was unrivaled, since it was airing at a time when cable television and the internet wasn't as developed. It had a song ranking system similar to Music Bank which replaced Bravo New Generation, a music program originally intended to be the show's replacement but stopped airing only after a few months.[9]
  • Show Network was a song ranking program which aired on MBC from October 30, 1989 to November 9, 1990 when the station decided to change its name to a Korean one, which eventually became 여러분의 인기가요, or Everyone's Popular Songs.[10]
  • Everyone's Popular Songs aired on MBC from November 9, 1990 to April 30, 1993. It was replaced by Choice! Most Popular Songs which ended in the same year.[11]
  • Live TV Gayo 20 replaced Inkigayo or SBS Popular Song in 1994 and aired until 1998, when SBS revived Inkigayo.[12]
  • Popular Songs Best 50 began airing on MBC on April 21, 1995 and lasted until January 17, 1998 when it was cancelled due to high production cost caused by the IMF crisis in 1997.[13]
  • Show! Music Tank [ko] was the longest-running music program aired on the cable music channel KMTV Asia for 13 years (from March 11, 1995 to May 29, 2008).
  • Live Young Times was a music show with a chart system that aired on MBC from January to April 1998, but was replaced by Music Camp.
  • Music Camp was a music program that aired on MBC, but was cancelled after an incident that was broadcast live where two band members exposed their genitalia during a segment of the show.[14]
  • K-PopCon was a music program that aired on Channel A between December 2011 and March 2012.
  • Music on Top was a music program that aired on JTBC, but was cancelled due to low ratings. Like most of the music programs, it also had a chart system that awards music show wins to artists every week.


Artists commonly pre-record performances and appear live on the show for interviews and the ending of the show, where the week's winning artist is announced. For all music shows, artists accumulate points from the previous week for them to be nominated for first place in the next.[15][16]

They also use music programs to promote. 'Debut stage' is the term used for artists who perform on the shows for the first time, usually serving as their first live performance when they debut as an artist. On the other hand, a 'comeback stage' is the term used for the first performance of the artist on the shows with their new songs and the start of a new promotional cycle, after the end of their debut cycle.[17]

Fans are also allowed to attend pre-recordings and live shows to support the artists for free if they apply for tickets on each of the show's websites, with the condition that they don't record or take photos during the recording. Fans who disobey these rules will be banned from the show, along with fellow fans who came to support the group.[18]

Show! Music Core's lip-sync ban[edit]

During an interview with 'Music Core' CP Park Hyun Suk on July 1, 2014, he was reported to have told Munhwa Ilbo, "We will not allow people who are not equipped with the basics as a singer to perform on stage. Even if one's individual part is short, that is fine. The singers who perform on stage must sing." He argues that this is to discourage groups who record almost 100% of their music for the shows, to determine the truly talented idol groups.[19]

Chart systems[edit]

A crucial element of each music program in South Korea is that every program has a voting system. Each program has different ways to count the votes and decide the winning artist of the week, so the possibilities of an artist winning is different for every program. Billboard reasoned that it's so that the music show scene "doesn't feel static", wherein the result would be the same for each show. While most programs prioritize digital sales, they differ in other areas such as SNS points, physical sales, broadcast points, live votes, etc. For instance, for some time, Music Bank's K-Chart included the song's physical sales in their computation, while SBS' Inkigayo's chart did not.[16][20] Because an artist must accumulate points during the first week of promotions, they are not eligible to win on music shows and may only be included in the music charts in the second week.

Paul Han, who is a co-owner of the English-language K-pop blog Allkpop claims that it is gratifying for dedicated fans of these artists to watch these music shows when their favorite artists win because of the presence of an actual trophy and an encore stage. Han said that "It's just much more satisfactory to receive a big trophy with all of your peers around. In a way, it's sort of like a mini-music award show every week, and only one can be the winner".[16]

Music program Channel Day Chart system
The Show SBS MTV Tuesday
  • Pre-score: Total 90% (Digital (downloads and streaming) (40%), album sales (10%), music video views (20%), broadcast (15%), 5% Starpass Pre-Voting)
  • Starpass Live voting (for The Show Choice nominees only): 10%
Show Champion MBC Music Wednesday Digital (streaming + downloads) + Album sales (50%), Pre-voting (Idol Champ) (20%), broadcast score (20%), SNS (10%)[21]
M Countdown Mnet Thursday Digital (streaming + downloads) (45%), album sales (15%), music video views (15%), Pre-voting (a sum of pre-votes on Mwave, Whosfan, Mnet and Mnet Japan) (15%), broadcast score (10%), live text voting (10%) (weekly 1st place chart nominees only)[22]
Music Bank KBS Friday Digital (streaming + downloads) (65%), album sales (5%), KBS broadcast score (KBS2 (TV) and KBS Cool FM and KBS Happy FM (radio)) (20%), panel survey (10%)[23]
Show! Music Core MBC Saturday Digital Sales 50%, Album Sales 10%, Music Video Views 10%, Viewers Committee Pre-voting (by 2,000 people) 10%, MBC Radio Broadcast 5%, Streaming HOT Chart 10% (for 1st place nominees only), Audience Live Voting 15% (for 1st place nominees only), Global Fans Vote 10% (for 1st place nominees only)
Inkigayo SBS Sunday Digital (streaming + downloads) (55%), SNS (YouTube views) (30%), album sales (10%), advance viewer votes (5%), On-Air (10%)[24]
  • Show! Music Core broadcast for over seven years without a chart system from December 31, 2005 before it was brought back on April 20, 2013. It was once again removed on November 21, 2015.[25] On April 22, 2017, the chart system was brought back yet again.[26]
  • Inkigayo revamped the show on July 15, 2012 without the chart system but revived it again on March 17, 2013.[27]
  • The Show broadcast for over three years before it introduced a chart system on October 28, 2014.[28]
  • Show Champion started broadcasting on February 21, 2012.
  • Music Bank has been airing since June 16, 1998. The last winner was on August 2, 2001 before the chart system was abandoned. It was revived again on September 7, 2007.
  • M Countdown has been airing since July 29, 2004 and has always had a chart system.

Chart records[edit]

In September 2015, Girls' Generation became the first artist in South Korea to accumulate a total of 100 wins on music shows.[29]

BTS currently holds the record for most awarded song with "Boy with Luv", released in April 2019. The song won the first-place award for a total of 21 times.[30]

In 2012, Psy's "Gangnam Style" won on Music Bank for a record ten consecutive weeks,[31] surpassing the previous record of nine consecutive wins by Girls' Generation's "Gee" in 2009.[32]

Twice holds the record for the most first-place wins in a year as they won a total of 36 times in 2017.[33]

International impact[edit]

According to Caitlin Kelley of Billboard, these South Korean music shows have incorporated international participation through social networking sites such as YouTube, which has been integrated into their voting system with the views of an artist's music video. She also credits these music shows for their participation in the globalization of K-pop. Every music program has its own regularly updated YouTube account, which allows other people out of South Korea to have a chance to view the artists' performance. It offers a larger exposure of K-pop acts to other parts of the world. Dr. Suk-Young Kim, a professor at the University of California, claimed in her interview with Billboard in 2018 that today, "YouTube is how you circulate yourself internationally" but outside of the website, South Korean music have already reached overseas fans directly by "bringing those music chart shows overseas and creating a live concert out of them", citing Music Bank which has gone on world tours since 2011 as an example. She also mentioned KCON, which is a music festival organized by M Countdown, as a means to showcase "every element of Hallyu encompassing pop music, TV dramas, movies, fashion, food, and beauty."[16]


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