The Girls Generation music video “I Got A Boy” was up against some stiff competition on Sunday for the first ever YouTube Music Awards. Not only were they competing against K-pop maven Psy’s “Gentleman”, but they also had to contend with mainstream American pop stars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

Here’s a full list of the nominees:

  • Girls’ Generation, “I Got A Boy”
  • Demi Lovato, “Heart Attack”
  • Epic Rap Battles Of History, “Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney”
  • Justin Bieber (feat. Nicki Minaj), “Beauty and a Beat”
  • Lady Gaga, “Applause”
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Mary Lambert) “Same Love”
  • Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”
  • One Direction, “Best Song Ever”
  • PSY, “Gentleman”
  • Selena Gomez, “Come & Get It”

Winners were based on total “fan engagement” as in, which videos received the highest number of shares, likes, and views. Fair enough, considering that it is a YouTube contest.

Many American fans didn’t seem to think so, and reacted with lackluster enthusiasm when Tiffany came up on behalf of SNSD for her acceptance speech in New York City.

Afterwards, many disgruntled fans of the musicians who lost took to Twitter to vent. Some of them resorted to racist tweets which only illustrated their ignorance of k-pop. For example they questioned how a “Japanese chick could beat Bieber” and why a group that “doesn’t even speak English” was allowed to compete in an American awards program. Never mind that Tiffany, who gave a gracious acceptance speech in perfect English, was raised in California.

Tiffany: “To all our fans…this would totally not be possible without you, so enjoy this moment. Thank you, and we love you.”

“I Got A Boy” was shared three times more than any of the other music videos. Unlike Western pop stars who tend to have a fan base that’s concentrated among one main demographic, Girls Generation is a national phenomenon in Korea. Everyone, from screaming teenage girls to ahjummas, loves this group. Remember that adorable scene in A Gentleman’s Dignity when the normally quiet Choi Yoo turns into a giggly, dancing fanboy as soon as he sees Sooyoung in a café?

Sure, a lot of Americans are still confused as to how Girls Generation could possibly have won a YouTube contest, but to k-pop fans this is a no-brainer. South Korea's download speeds make most of the cabled broadband in the United States look like dial-up. Seoul alone has more than 2,000 wi-fi locations. K-pop fans are serious about their groups, and constantly connected to social media to promote them. Koreans are attached to their mobile devises 24/7 and constantly clicking away on videos. Furthermore, k-pop bands like Girls Generation have a global fan base of supporters from South America to Africa, and have been able to succeed in normally conservative countries because of their clean and wholesome image.

While it is disappointing that so many audience members of the YTMA are still ignorant of why Girls Generation won, at least this award will pique their interest and give k-pop another step through the door of mainstream American music.

Zoe Mei is a veejay for KPOP-TV and an avid blogger about all things Korean. Check out more of her writing at