South Korean children's song hits Billboard amid lawsuit

The catchy children's educational song Baby Shark has been charting on Billboard's Hot 100 since the second week of January as the first non-pop Korean song. The song-and-dance video, which features a shark family, has been viewed over 2.27 billion t
The catchy children's educational song Baby Shark has been charting on Billboard's Hot 100 since the second week of January as the first non-pop Korean song. The song-and-dance video, which features a shark family, has been viewed over 2.27 billion times on YouTube as of Friday.PHOTO: YOUTUBE/ PINKFONG! KIDS' SONGS & STORIES

SEOUL • The South Korean children's educational song Baby Shark has made history as part of the Korean Wave, or "hallyu", by charting on Billboard's most competitive Hot 100 list as the first non-pop Korean song.

For the week of Feb 2, Baby Shark came in 36th place on the Hot 100 chart, stepping up one notch from a week earlier.

It was the fourth week in a row that the simple viral song remained on the main Billboard song chart after debuting at 32nd.

It was a feat comparable to those by the most famous K-pop artists such as Psy and the Wonder Girls, or boy band BTS, whose latest song Idol ranked as high as 11th place.

After its release in 2015 by Pinkfong, a children's education entertainment brand by education start-up SmartStudy, the rhythmic two-minute song went viral in Korea and abroad.

It created a torrent of YouTube parodies among celebrities ranging from popular K-pop girl band Red Velvet to American comedian Ellen DeGeneres, as well as ordinary YouTube viewers.

The official English version of the song drew over 2.27 billion YouTube views as of Friday, and continues to gather more views every day.

 

At home, however, the catchy song's creators have been embroiled in some legal battles.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party unilaterally used the song while it campaigned for the regional election last year.

SmartStudy accused the party of copyright infringement and threatened to take legal action, but the opposition party protested and accused SmartStudy of plagiarising American children's song composer Johnny Only's Baby Shark Song.

The party added it had prior consent from Mr Only to use the song.

Several months later, in October, the American composer filed a claim for damages with a South Korean court, demanding the chief of SmartStudy pay five million won (S$6,000) in compensation for copying his 2011 song.

SmartStudy rejected the plagiarism claim, saying its song was a recreation of a traditional children's song that has no valid copyrights.

The first court hearing was scheduled for last Thursday, but Mr Only reportedly dropped the lawsuit. Now, the American is said to be planning to file another suit demanding a larger compensation.

The famous Baby Shark song features the rhythmic introduction of a shark family and their underwater hunt for small fish.

The video of the English-language version of the song comes with matching e choreography and the addictive refrain of "doo doo doo doo doo doo".

THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline 'S. Korean children's song hits Billboard amid lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe