The rise of K-pop (Korean pop) as a new global music genre has wrought theoretical turmoil within the field of cultural studies. This article argues that the global ascendance of K-pop can primarily be attributed to the passionate support of inter-Asian audiences. However, the actual production, performance, and dissemination of K-pop contents have little to do with the Asian pop-culture system. Although the manufacture of K-pop music and its performers depends on Korean talent and management, K-pop producers tend to rely heavily on the global music industries of North America and Europe for their creative content. The global dissemination of K-pop would not have been possible without global social network service (SNS) sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—none of which are owned or operated by Asians. This article argues that the manufacturing of creativity in non-Western music, as illustrated by the case of Hallyu, involves three stages: globalization of creativity, localization of musical contents and performers, and global dissemination of the musical contents through social media.
Sociological studies of the music industry emphasize the importance of mass media technologies in the birth of a new popular music genre. However, these studies have not fully explained the business structure of new media and new popular music. They also failed to predict K-pop’s global success via YouTube and iTunes. The emergence of Internet-based music stores and music video streaming sites, particularly YouTube, has a strong connection to Korean content as it allows Korean artists to bypass conventional music distributors who control business-to-customer music distribution channels in the United States and Europe. The emergence of the digital economy powered by PCs and smartphones, ushered in a new era of business-to-business music distribution, thus minimizing transaction costs of the global music business for Korean entertainment firms. This article argues that K-pop producers, with no alternative channels for distributing their music to global audiences for profit, actively chose YouTube for its free music distribution despite its low-profit margins from royalty fees. J-pop and American pop music distributors, however, avoided YouTube because the profit margin from YouTube was far lower than from traditional media, such as CDs and iTunes, giving K-pop primary standing in the niche market.
Japanese hallyu fans who often travel to Korea after falling in love with Korean dramas or K-pop music are usually referred to as “tourist audiences.” More recently, K-pop tourist audiences come not only from Japan but also from Southeast Asia, China, Europe, and the Americas, expanding the nationality boundary of the concept. Although such tourist audiences are still predominantly female, the number of male K-pop tourist audience members is also growing slowly. In this study, we address the question of learning behavior among tourist audiences from different countries in the K-pop mecca of Seoul. Based on the notion of forward and retrospective learning, in-depth interviews with Japanese and Indonesian female K-pop fans who have encountered fans from other countries were conducted in order to delineate differing patterns of learning behavior. We find that forward learners from Indonesia actively engage in meeting Korean, Chinese, and Japanese fans, whereas retrospective learners from Japan are very reluctant to meet Chinese or Indonesian fans, although they were somewhat interested in meeting their North American or Western counterparts.
The success of K-pop’s global drive has provoked scholarly interests from various perspectives and disciplines. The multidisciplinary interest in K-pop reflects the wealth of K-pop success factors that are either exogenous (i.e., emphasizing global factors) or endogenous (i.e., highlighting Korean factors). This article focuses on the endogenous factors of K-pop’s success, given the fact that the majority of the extant studies on K-pop analyze the impact of global factors on K-pop’s popularity in different regions of the world. Thus, this study seeks to find if non-stereotypical Korean particularities that cannot be accounted for by exogenous explanations exist within the K-pop industry. We posit that the Korean peculiarities in the K-pop industry can be traced back to time/space hybridity, the “red queen’s race,” and cosmopolitan striving. This article finds that these three specific features within modern Korean culture explain why K-pop songs are still different from American or European pop music, despite their similarities due to the globalization of pop music. The differences between K-pop music and their counterparts in America and Europe are: the contemporaneity of the uncontemporary, the synchronized dancing to melodic music (vis-à-vis beat music), and the multi-top dancing formation. We conclude that the aforementioned Korean factors are responsible for these musical variations in K-pop.
This study examines the way that three groups of citizens (adolescents, housewives, and the politically active) socially constructed the mad-cow issue in Korea in 2008. In particular, the effects of political and social influences, group value systems, and online learning patterns are investigated. Quantitative data from three websites is combined with qualitative sources, including newspapers and online message boards. The results reveal that despite different learning patterns, adolescents focused on factual information while the other groups took a more interpretive approach, and all three groups initially constructed the issue as one of health security. However, following government announcements, politically active citizens came to see the issue through an anti-government lens. Rather than facilitating an improvement in understanding between the government and the politically active, government communication was instead the most influential external factor on the anti-government construction of the issue. This study suggests that active two-way communication between all parties involved, including the government, is needed to improve social learning, especially when it occurs in online communities.
In premodern Korea, religion provided many of the important tools for legitimizing political authority. Since the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) eventually privileged Confucianism over all other religious traditions, Confucianism supplied the vast majority of the rituals and religious rhetoric that the court used to assert its right to rule during that period. However, when the dynasty was first established at the end of the fourteenth century, the dominance that Confucianism would later display was not yet evident. Instead, in addition to Confucian rituals and rhetoric, official depictions of the founder of the dynasty point to his support of Buddhist and Daoist rituals, and even supernatural phenomena, as well as his reputation for extraordinary military skill, to legitimize his overthrow of the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). This pluralistic religious environment makes Korea in the fourteenth century look very different from Europe in the same time period, particularly in terms of the ability of the king of Korea to use religious rituals and rhetoric as he saw fit, without the worry of religious leaders trying to control him. This relationship between political and religious power in Korea is a distinctive characteristic of the political culture of premodern Korea.
The purpose of this research is to examine the history of bulgogi’s transition and development over the past century. While bulgogi carries on the legacy of Korean traditional roasted meat, it is simultaneously a very unique cuisine, of which the recipe and meaning have changed over time according to shifting economic and social conditions. As a result, bulgogi is not merely a simple dish; rather, the term embodies numerous symbolic meanings of Korean food culture. The origin of this seasoned roast meat can be traced back to the Goguryeo dynasty (37 BC–AD 668). In different historical periods and social contexts, bulgogi has gone through unusual and dynamic transitions of cooking methods, such as roasting and boiling. One of its first transitional periods (1920s–1960s) is marked by the use of grilled beef that originates from neobiani and the commercialized cooking process of roasting. During the developmental phase of bulgogi (1960s–1990s), bulgogi boiled in meat broth appeared, quickly gaining popularity. The phase of decline in bulgogi consumption and popularity was followed by the revival of bulgogi (after the 1990s), when it was adapted through various cooking methods.