Don’t Call It A Comeback: Old School K-pop and Its Fans

Fly to the Sky

Fly to the Sky

Often believed to appeal only to teenagers, K-pop is experiencing a trend with old school groups making successful comebacks.

Some believe that K-pop has a short shelf life.  Several point to the “five-year curse,” a trend where male K-pop groups break up or disband, often in the face of mandatory military service in Korea. Others believe that K-pop is a fad that will run its course.  In 2011, Ree at seoulbeats declared:  “One thing people must note when discussing the popularity of K-Pop, is that to many people, whether they realize it or not, K-Pop has almost simply become a fad. Meaning that despite the fact it is at its peak of popularity, it will once again start heading on a downhill slope.”

However, successful comebacks of groups who debuted prior to 2000 challenge these notions.  Tickets for Shinhwa‘s Grand Tour 2012: The Return concert sold out in February, ahead of the release of the album The Return in March. Such success occurred after a four-year hiatus by group from the music scene.  Other first-generation K-pop groups, such as g.o.d and Fly To the Sky, have also announced comeback plans.

Who are the people who support groups who have been inactive for years and why do they continue to like such groups? I want to find out! If you are a fan of a group who debut before 2000, take this survey! It will ask you questions about old school K-pop groups such as H.O.T, Shinhwa, S.E.S, Fin.K.L, Fly to the Sky, g.o.d, 1TYM, Deux and others.

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Sources

Ree. “The K-pop Fad: When Will It End?” seoulbeats. 22 Nov 2011. Web. 25 May 2014.

Son Dam Bi: Sound of Dam Bi

Son Dam Bi is a solo female artist who debuted  in 2007 on the Pledis Entertainment label. That same year, FT ISLAND, Wonder Girls, and Girl’s Generation also debuted, making Son Dam Bi’s introduction as a solo artist even more unique. In addition to her singing and dancing skills, which she has won several awards for, Son Dam Bi has also dabbled in acting by appearing on Korean television shows (We Got Married) and a Korean drama (Light and Shadow).

To see the enhanced profile, including discographies and videographies, click the image to go to KPOPIANA, KPK’s multimedia database on Korean popular music of the Hallyu era!

iFans Case Studies Status Update

Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study

Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study

If you keep with research on K-pop, you may be aware of the iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom project.  The surveys that make up the qualitative studies seek to understand how the fandoms differ from one another and their relationship to the groups they support. K-pop fans know that the fandoms are unique. Because they have detailed knowledge of the groups they support, they provide a unique perspective on the appeal of their respective groups. Too often, commentators make assumptions about K-pop fans, while the iFans studies goes to the source: the fans.

As the chart above shows, fans of 2NE1 and BigBang have participated the most in the surveys, while fans of Shinhwa and Aziatix have participated the least.   Other groups with high participation rates include SHINee and TVXQ, while other groups with low participation rates include Epik High and f(x).

These participation rates are interesting, because groups like Super Junior and Girls’ Generation have very active global fandoms, yet those numbers are not reflected in participation rates.  Rates may not reflect all fans, just fans who are likely to take (and complete) a survey.  Participation rates may be affected by the activity of the groups.

The iFans Case Studies survey is still active, and now, individuals can take the survey for multiple or  individual groups.

Now that a good deal of data has been collected, look for new research reports on what K-pop fans say about their favorite groups!

iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom

IFansOmekalogo

IFANS: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a scholarly research project that examines global fan attitudes and activities through surveys, collection of information on online communities and analysis of websites.  Crystal S. Anderson, PhD (Elon University) is the Principal Investigator of the studies and Curator of the iFans project site.

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CONFERENCE ABSTRACT: The Cultural Politics of Asian/Americans in Kpop @ Association of Asian American Studies

A Far East Movement: The Cultural Politics of Asian/Americans in Kpop

Dr. Crystal S. Anderson

Association of Asian American Studies Conference, Washington, DC

April 11-14, 2012

ABSTRACT

With the global spread of Hallyu (global Korean cultural movement expressed through music, television dramas and film), many have focused on the reception of Korean culture by other countries.  However, there is also a reciprocal movement, one where Asian/Americans migrate to the Korean popular music scene, bringing a sensibility reflecting experiences as people of color in the United States AND members of an Asian diaspora.  This paper explores the complicated results of such movement.   On one hand, Korean American artists like Jay Park have encountered obstacles in navigating the Kpop scene. Initially a member of the all-male group 2PM, Park created controversy over his abrupt departure and subsequent negative comments about Koreans.  His experience suggests challenges in acculturating to what seems to be a foreign culture to him as an Asian American.  On the other hand, Korean artists born or raised in the United States (i.e. Hyesung, and Andy of  Shinhwa) or Canada (i.e. Henry of Super Junior) seem to avoid the kinds of troubles that Park encounters.  In addition, Asian American groups such as Aziatix have gained a measure of success in Kpop. My paper will explore factors that may account for this difference.  In addition, American producers such as Steven Lee regularly work behind the scenes making music that draws on American R&B and soul, while Korean producers such as Yoo Young Jin work with African Americans to create what can only be described as Korean soul.  What are the implications of this transnational movement of culture? Is the reception of these subjects in Kpop impacted by transnational cultural politics?