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Byline: K. Oanh Ha
Oct. 2--SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It was a typical American teen scene: high schoolers watching music videos on a computer, bobbing their heads to the beat. Soon, Thaddeus McDaniels and his San Jose buddies were break dancing -- pops, jackhammers, head spins -- on the living room floor.
But their choice of music was anything but American: Drunken Tiger, Rhyme Shark and BoA -- musical missionaries from East Asia who are riding a wave of Korean pop culture that's crossed the Pacific. Buoyed by the popularity of Japanese culture, such as anime and pop music, Korea has emerged as the new cool.
Americans young and old, from Honolulu to Chicago to New York, are raving about South Korean music and soap operas on Internet chat boards and forums, and are devouring Korean music, television shows and movies. And it isn't just Asian-Americans who are tuned in to "K-pop."
"You don't have to understand the words to enjoy the music," said Thaddeus, a 10th-grader at Evergreen High School. "You can feel it. You just have to close your eyes."
K-pop's trademark is the bubblegum song: think In-Sync or Brittany Spears, before she got nasty. Korean rap …