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Shine On: Glamour, Image and K-pop

H.O.T

H.O.T

Visuals are an important part of K-pop, and understanding them is crucial to understanding the meaning of K-pop and its spread globally.

In addition to music videos, images that accompany promotions for music releases, photo shoots featured in magazines and endorsements for an array of products are seen, collected and exchanged by fans.  Not just important fan activity, such archiving in the lay sense is important to the preservation and memory-keeping of the visual narrative of K-pop.

In addition to the promotional function they perform, K-pop images also perform cultural work, constructing multifaceted representations of Korean identity.  Anne Anlin Cheng, professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University, sees “celebrity as a politics of recognition and glamour as a politics of personhood” (1023). This has special resonance for raced bodies:

Glamour’s imperviousness thus draws on a crisis of personhood that is inherently political and maybe even strangely liberating for a woman and a minority–liberating not in the simple sense of acquiring a compensatory or impenetrable beauty. . . but in the sense of temporary relief from the burdens of personhood and visibility.  It may seem counterintuitive or even dangerous to talk about the raced and sexualized body’s longing to be thinglike or to disappear into things, but it is the overcorporealized body that may find the most freedom in fantasies of corporeal dematerialization or, alternatively, of material self-extension (1032).

In other words, the highly stylized images that pepper K-pop represent a visual construction of Korean identities, visuals of how Koreans project themselves globally.  For ethnic people who have been constructed by others, such images are important because they do cultural work, deconstructing or altering images of Koreans and the ideas that accompany them.

I have started a new section in my digital humanities project, Hallyu Harmonyto document and curate images of K-pop groups and artists. In doing so, I hope to be able to make meaningful statements about the kinds of representations of Korean men and women that permeate K-pop, detecting patterns that become apparent when such images are collected together.

In the Visuals section of Hallyu Harmony, image galleries are organized into three broad categories:

  • Casual, images designed to appeal to everyone
  • Chic, images designed to represent more sophisticated styling attainable by most
  • Couture, images designed to capture more fantastic styling not designed for normal wear

Within these categories, images are further organized by concepts, magazine shoots and other promotional images. Concepts for music releases are placed in rough chronological order, allowing users to see how an artist or group’s image evolves over time.

The image gallery for Girls’ Generation, shows a greater variety of images than their reputation may suggest. A review of their concepts show that they are equally likely to promote a casual, chic or couture image. However, they are less likely to reflect a couture image in photo shoots for magazines. On the other hand, early observations of 2NE1’s image gallery (in progress) suggest that even though the group is known for its fierce reputation and image that many fans can relate to, the group reflect a chic image for many concepts.

Documenting such images presents challenges.  Many images gathered from the Internet are divorced from their original context as they are shared by fans and K-pop media. As a result, tracing an image’s origins is not always possible.  In some cases, the availability  of images within their context is related to the commitment of Korean agencies to preserve the context of images.  For example, the H.O.T image gallery (in progress) features many images, but few that can be placed in their original context. SM Entertainment‘s sites do not provide information for images on its H.O.T site.  On the other hand, many of  the concept images in S.E.S.’s image gallery can be associated with their original context due to the continued access to the group’s SM site.  Other sites, like DSP Media (formerly DSP Entertainment) only includes current artists on its website, so locating images for Fin.K.L‘s image gallery (in progress) will be challenging. Images will have to be obtained from other sources.  Moreover, it is easier to document 2nd and 3rd generation K-pop groups and artists like SNSD, while first generation groups like H.O.T and S.E.S prove more challenging because the groups are not active.

However, their fanbases are. Fan sites provide the bulk of the images documented, thus acting as valuable informal archives. As more image galleries are completed, I hope to write about the patterns that emerge from images from individuals and groups and compare them with other K-pop artists.

Images: 1, 2 and 34 and 5

Sources:

Cheng, Anne Anlin. “Shine: On Race, Glamour and the Modern.” PMLA 126.4 (2011): 1022-1041.

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Shine On: Glamour, Image and K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Whose Generation? GIRLS’ GENERATION!: Gender, Audience and K-pop

Girls' Generation, Vogue Japan, 2011

Girls’ Generation, Vogue Japan, 2011

by Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

As the number of female groups increase in number in K-pop, commentators and scholars continue to focus on the meaning of the representations produced by these groups. While some argue that such representations are geared towards men, this ignores the way the majority female fanbases of these groups construct meaning of these representations.

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The Digital Documentation Project: An Update

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

During KPK’s early days in 2011, Dr. Anderson and other KPK founders were having quite a difficult time accessing some Kpop entertainment companies’ artist websites.  They kept encountering what they called, “the circle of death,” and then timing out. I wasn’t having this problem and had just discovered the Screencast-O-Matic tool, so I decided to record the sites and send the video links to my KPK colleagues.

Interweb troubles in 2011....DD to the rescue!

Interweb troubles in 2011….DD to the rescue!

And that is how the the KPK Digital Documentation (DD) project was born.

While the original intent of my website recordings was to share the Kpop website love, I quickly realized that recording Kpop websites could be useful in other ways: to track changes in Kpop web design, to understand how Korean entertainment companies use websites to engage Korean and international Kpop fans, and what roles these sites seem to play in the company’s larger business, marketing, and promotional plans  – particularly when it comes to attracting new talent and integrating social media channels and tools.

Process

Recording websites can take between 2 to 15 minutes per site- occasionally more if the website is dense.  I choose to record the websites without sound in order to avoid copyright infringement and so that visitors may enjoy and engage in unbiased viewing or analysis of the website.   In Kpop, many artists and groups release several music projects a year, so I keep up with Kpop news outlets to find out about debuts and comebacks, and I try to record the different websites for each project. In this way, the DD project creates depth not only by seeking out general trends, but also monitoring the evolution of individual groups and artists. Additionally, if artists and groups promote in Japan, I record those websites if they are available.

Recording B1A4's latest website. See Screencast-O-Matic interface (dotted lines, recording control panel).

Recording B1A4’s latest website. See Screencast-O-Matic interface (dotted lines, recording control panel).

Website Differences

One of the first things I noticed is that SM Entertainment was the only company that still gave historical access to websites supporting their early artists (Shinhwa, S.E.S., Yoo Joung Jin, etc.), so I quickly recorded those websites. It’s a good thing that I did, because in 2012, the company completely redesigned their website, removing any content about artists who were not currently on their roster.  SM Entertainment continues to allow access to the older websites of groups who are still on their roster (e.g., Girls Generation, SHINee, TVXQ! etc.); additionally this company provides links to modified liner notes (e.g., lyrics, music publishing information, etc.).  Those sites have been recorded for posterity, as well.

In contrast, other companies like YG Entertainment or FNC Music Entertainment only offer current editions of artists websites – that is, viewers only have access to the current promotional concept of a group or artist, even if some historical information may be available (see below). Additionally, some companies (Starship Entertainment, TS Entertainment) only offer quick profile information about their artists on their websites. Instead they choose to use Cafe Daum’s “internet cafe” sites, which act as a hybrid website/forum, to promote their artists. Since Cafe Daum Official Kpop artist sites are generally designed to reach Korean Kpop fans, I do not record these sites for KPK.

Website Commonalities

Despite these differences, most Kpop artist websites have common elements:

  • Artist profiles (member names, birthdays, blood type, hobbies)
  • Discography lists
  • Photo galleries
  • Music snippets
  • Activity calendars
  • Social media links (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and until mid-2014, Me2day)
  • Links to online music purchasing and downloading sites (e.g., Melon, Olleh, iTunes)
  • Message boards (from the artists, their staff, and for fan-to-fan communication)
  • Official fanclub portals and exclusive content (often password protected)
  • International language options (default language is Korean with some English)
  • Links to the company’s business site, which include audition information

From Collection to Curation

B1A4 Kpopiana exhibit with Digital Documentation links.

B1A4 Kpopiana exhibit with Digital Documentation links.

When this project first began, KPK members were more engaged in collecting information, so DD videos were listed on the KPK website, separately from the artist profiles. As we move on to curation activities, these video links are now included in KPOPIANA artist exhibits.  At press time, KPK has a DD library of almost 500 Kpop artist websites, from all kinds of Korean entertainment companies and encompassing all kinds of artists, Kpop choreographers, some international fansites,  and even Kdrama actors. Currently we are focused on releasing DD items pertaining to Kpop artists, with plans to include other items in the future.   The Library of Congress (n.d.) notes that the average length of a website is about 44 days. Considering the frenetic pace of music production in Kpop, this length may sometimes be shortened, making the DD project a useful tool in the study of Hallyu and its life on the Internet.  

 Click to learn more about the DD project, or you may contact me anytime.

Sources

Library of Congress. (n.d.). Importance of digital preservation: Special presentation. Accessed April 17, 2014, from http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/about/presentation.html.

KDK/Nunee (M.S.L.S.)

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For Your Reading Pleasure: A Hallyu Bibliography, Part 4: GLOBAL IMPACT and GLOBALIZATION

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Welcome to Part 4 of my ongoing series of bibliographic entries about Hallyu.   These entries are listed by year, not by author (TIP: If you know about a title or author and you want to see if it’s included in this listing, use the CTRL +F function).

To learn more about my searching parameters, information-gathering processes, and your ability to access these items, see my earlier essay titledFor Your Reading Pleasure: Introducing A Hallyu Bibliography.”  Click for Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 of the bibliography.

This is a working post, so if you would like to submit items to this list or to the bibliography, please contact me directly at kaetrena@mailbox.sc.edu

NOTE:  In order to make it easier to locate authors (and where possible), I’ve modified these APA Style citations by adding full author names where possible.

Global Impact

Dator, Jim. and Yongseok Seo. (2004). Korea as the wave of a future: The emerging dream society of icons
and aesthetic experience. Journal of Futures Studies 9(1): 31–44. Accessed 27 March 2012 from http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/9-1/04.pdf?referer=www.clickfind.com.au

Cho, Hae Joang. (2005). Reading the “Korean Wave” as a Sign of Global Shift.  Korea Journal 45: 147–82. Accessed 27 March 2012 from http://www.ekoreajournal.net/issue/view_pop.htm?Idx=3359

Mangliankay, Roald. (2006). When the Korean wave ripples. IIAS Newsletter, 42: 15. Accessed 27 March 2014 from https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/12766/IIAS_NL42_15.pdf?sequence=1

Yang-hwan, Jeong. (2007). Comics soar as new Korean wave. Korea focus on current topics, 15(1):67-69. Accessed 27 March 2014 from http://www.koreafocus.or.kr/images/upload/pdf/101439.pdf

Shin, Hyunjoon. (2009). Have you ever seen the Rain? And who’ll stop the Rain?: the globalizing project of Korean pop (Kpop). Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 10(4): 507-523.

 Globalization

Nederveen Pieterse, Jan. (1995). Globalization as hybridization. In M. Featherstone, S. Lash and R. Robertson (Eds.) Global Modernities. pp.45 – 68. London: Sage.Cho, Uhn. 2005. Positioning the Korean wave in the nexus between globalization and localization. Korea Journal, 45(4): 143-146.

Hyun, Oh-seok. 2004. Taking advantage of the Hallyu wave. Korea Focus, 12(6): 47-49.

Lee, Hee-Eun. (2005). Othering ourselves: identity and globalization in Korean popular music, 1992-2002. Thesis, University of Iowa.(see also, Identity and Nationalism)

Kim, Youna. (2005). Experiencing globalization. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(4): 445-463.

Kim, Ju Young. (2007). Rethinking media flow under globalisation: rising Korean wave and Korean TV and film policy since 1980s. PhD thesis, University of Warwick. Accessed 27 March 2014 from http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/1153/1/WRAP_THESIS_Kim_2007.pdf

Seo, Yongseok. (2006). East Asian response to the globalization of culture: perceptional change and cultural policy. In J. Dator, Dick Pratt and Yongseok Soo (Eds.) Fairness, globalization and public institutions: East Asia and beyond. X: University of Hawai’i Press. pp. 319 – X. (see also, Culture)

Yang, J. (2007). Globalization, nationalism and regionalization: The case of Korean popular culture. Development and Society, 36(2): 177-199.

Sung, Sang Yeon. (2008). Globalization and the regional flow of popular music: the role of the Korean wave (Hanliu) in the construction of Taiwanese identities and Asian values. Thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Le, Lan Xuan. (2009). Imaginaries of the Asian modern: text and context at the juncture of nation and region. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Ryoo,  W.   (2009).  Globalization,  or  the  logic  of cultural  hybridization:  The  case  of the  Korean  wave.  Asian Journal  of Communication,  19(2),  137 -15I .

Iwabuchi, Koichi. (2010). Globalization, East Asian media cultures and their politics. Asian Journal of Communication, 20(2): 197-212.

Hogarth, Hyun-key Kim. (2013). The Korean wave: An Asian reaction to Western-dominated globalization. Perspectives on Global Development & Technology, 12(1/2): 135-171.

 

 

Happy Reading!

KDK/Nunee (M.S.L.S.)

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K-pop Fandom 101

glowsticks_

Glowsticks for various K-pop groups and artists

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University

Many know that K-pop fans play an active role in K-pop, but few may know just how complex K-pop fandoms are.

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IFANS PROJECT UPDATE: Online Interview with BigBang Fan

L to R: T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung; Credit: www.nii.co.kr

L to R: T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung; Credit: http://www.nii.co.kr

iFans: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a digital project that examines the attitudes, practices and creative output of global K-pop fans. VIPs (as fans of BigBang are called) were given the opportunity to participate in an online interview with questions geared toward their experience as BigBang fans. Whale, a VIP, wrote about the criticisms about BigBang as well as the group’s status as an idol group.  Read more here….

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TALK: K-pop Confidential @ Georgia State University on 11/20/2014

KPopConfidential-IEW-OII-2014

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Battle: Going for Legend

Battle

Battle

Battle debuted in December 2006 after being formed on the popular television show Let’s Coke Play! Battle Shinhwa!. The group consisted of five members: Ryu (Won Seung Jae), Ki-hyun (Shin Ki Hyun), Lio (Park Ji Woon), Tae-hwa (Jin Tae Hwa), Hwi-chan (Kim Tae Kwan), and Chris (Jung Hyung Rok). The group members were personally chosen by Shinhwa members, who were hosting the television show at the time. During the group’s short tenure (they are currently inactive), Battle toured Thailand and China. . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA!

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Piggy Dolls: Not Your Ordinary Girls?

Piggy Dolls

Piggy Dolls

Piggy Dolls is signed with LOEN Entertainment and debuted in early 2011 with members Min Sun (Kim Min Sun), Jiyeon (Lee Ji Yeon) and Jieun (Lee Ji Eun). The group’s name and unique concept was based on their looks, which went against the Korean beauty standard of maintaining a slim momjjang (good body shape) and instead focused on their strong vocals.  Regardless of their original concept, within a year, the group revealed slimmer physiques. In 2013, the group was replaced with three new members (Kang Eun Young, Lee Eun Young ,and Lee Ji Young). . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA!

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Byul: SoKo’s Female Balladeer

Byul

Byul

Byul (Kim Go Eun) is a solo artist known for her prolific work in singing ballads for Korean television and film. Her name, (별,) means “star” in Korean. While she was discovered by Jin Young Park (JYP) and was signed for a short while with JYP Entertainment, Byul is currently signed with Spring Entertainment.  In 2012, Byul married Korean comedian and entertainer HaHa (Ha Dong Hoon). . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA!

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