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Lee Hyori, Promo image, Monochrome

Lee Hyori, Promo image, Monochrome

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University

The 1960s girl group concept makes regular appearances in K-pop.  While some think that this kind of image represents a lack of ethnic identity in a quest for mainstream acceptance, I suggest that the 1960s girl group image promoted by women of color represents an ethnic glamour aesthetic.

Contemporary K-pop is driven by image as well as music.  Part of this has to do with its emergence along with rising technologies like the music video and the Internet, which “generate[d] a condition of possibility of reaching a mass audience outside of national borders,” and resulted in photogenic performers as part of appealing images (Lie, 353, 356). This is similar to rhythm and blues-inflected pop music of the 1960s. Gerald Early notes that technology contributed to this music becoming an “artifact,” in part because television distributed the music as well as an image (60, 62).

K-pop agencies, like SM Entertainment, carefully craft the images of K-pop artists for concepts. This is part of the training process, which also includes language instruction, choreography and hosting practice.  This also contributes to criticisms that such preening in the quest for audience acceptance diminishes the presence of ethnic culture.   John Lie argues that contemporary K-pop lacks Korean culture:  “As a matter of traditional culture, there is almost nothing ‘Korean’ about K-pop” (360). Motown acts under Berry Gordy also received similar kinds of training and, were subject to similar criticisms.   Nelson George defines Gordy’s project as assimilationist in nature, where “white values were held up as primary role models” and as a result, “blacks lost contact with the uniqueness of their people, and with their own heritage” (xii). For George and Lie, mainstream appeal translates into a loss of ethnic culture.

When K-pop adopts the 1960s retro look for female artists through chic hairstyles and dresses with eye-catching prints or dazzling sequins and fur reminiscent of The Supremes, I suggest that it partakes of a model of ethnic glamour established by black girl groups.  Brian Ward characterizes Gordy’s quest for mainstream success as one  predicated on challenging prevailing notions about American blacks:   “Gordy felt [the training] might make them more acceptable to white America and an expanding black middle class for whom mainstream notions of respectability remained important” (266).  The aspiration was felt by blacks, even those not in the middle class:  “The spangled pursuit of success carried no stigma among black fans who had routinely been denied equal opportunity to compete for the financial rewards of the mainstream” (Ward, 267).   This is key, because it shows the importance of how viewers read such images. Cynthia Cyrus argues that even though the images of girl groups of the 1960s were  well-managed and carefully crafted, they nevertheless resonated positively with fans:   “The girl group images offer affirmative messages about what it means to be female, messages about belonging, about possibilities for participation, about the possibility of success. . . . The role of the viewer is central to creating meaning, and the girl group fan engaged actively in dialogue with the images placed before here” (190-1).

The Kim Sisters

The Kim Sisters

Just as black fans interpreted those images of black women as positive, Korean women like the Kim Sisters, styled in the same way, represent a glamourous  ethnic, in this case, Korean, experience to aspire to.  Ian Kim writes:   “For a Korean American like me, who grew up in parts of the US where I was the only Asian kid in school, it’s pretty astonishing to discover Korean performers who were successful in the US such an early time. Even more impressive is that they sang in English.”  The Kim Sisters’ images and participation in the entertainment world in the United States functioned as an alternative to the realities of the aftereffects of the Korean War and American military presence. San Byun-Ho remembers:  “After the Korean War, the Korean situation was the worst in the world; we were one of the poorest countries, like the Congo or somewhere like that. The country was devastated. A lot of people died” (Forsyth). Just like images of 1960s black girl groups, such images of the Kim Sisters represent an image of ethnic aspiration.

Contemporary fans may see retro images in K-pop, like those by Lee Hyori and the Wonder Girls, as drawing from a visual discourse of ethnic glamour.  The measure of the impact of the image should also be measured by those who make meaning out of it.  These images matter precisely because they show Koreans in a glamorous context that also acknowledges their ethnicity.   As the Vintage Black Glamour  Tumblr and forthcoming book suggest, images of ethnic glamour still resonate today.  Nichelle Gainer says that any image she chooses has to have “a certain style to it, a certain beauty” and that she includes information about the photo because “I want people to know you’re not looking at some anonymous random person” (Brown).  Given the frequency that the 1960s concept recurs in K-pop, ethnic glamour still matters.

Wonder Girls, Nobody Concept, 2008

Wonder Girls, Nobody Concept, 2008

Images: 1, 2, 3

Sources

Brown, Tanya Ballard.  “‘Vintage Black Glamour’ Exposes Little-Known Cultural History.” The Picture Show – Photo Stories from NPR. NPR . 12 Oct 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2014.

Cyrus, Cynthia J.  “Selling an Image: Girl Groups of the 1960s.” Popular Music 22.2 (2003): 173-193.

Early, Gerald. One Nation Under a Grove: Motown and American Culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.

Forsyth, Luc.  “Korea’s Stressed Masses.” Groove Korea20 Aug 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2014.

Kim, Ian. “The Kim Sisters.” Ian Kim. 23 Jan 2014. Web. 28 Jan 2014.

Lie, John.  “What is the K in K-pop?: South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity.” Korea Observer 43.3 (2012): 339-363.

Creative Commons License
Ethnicity, Glamour and Image in Korean Popular Music by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


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BASICS

FANFACTS

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

 Name

Park Jin-Young (Jin Young Park, JYP)

 Debut

 1994

 Status

 Active

 Label

  •  As Is (?) 1994- 1997(?)
  • Tae-Hong Planning Corporation (1997-2001)
  • JYP Entertainment (2001-)

 Fan Name

None

 Origin of Fan Name

 N/A

 Official Website

http://www.jype.com/

 Related Websites

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FAN FACTS

Official Fan Color: 

Awards

1997

  • Model Line Selected  ’97 Best Dresser
  • KBS Popular Song Grand Prize Singer in His Teens
1999
  • SBS Popular Song Grand Prize Composer of the Year
2001
  • Daily Sports Popular Song Grand Prize Teen Singer of the Year
  • Best Music Video (R&B category)
  • Mnet Music Video
2007
  • Model Line’s Best Dressed of the Year
2011
  •  Baek Sang Arts, New Actor of the Year

Television Appearances

  • Hot Blood Men, 2008
  • Dream High, 2011

Concert Tours

News
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VIDEOS

No Love No More


Kiss


Your House


Swing Baby


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DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

   Dream High Original Soundtrack, Part 5. (January 31, 2011) 

  1. If
   JYP Nation – This Christmas (December 1, 2010) (JYP Entertainment)

  1. This Christmas
   Sad Freedom (December 1, 2009) (Loen Entertainment)

  1. Sad Freedom
  2. No Love No More
  3. Rewind
  4. Come Over
  5. No Love No More (remix)
  Wonder Girls – Nobody (September 22, 2008) (JYP Entertainment)

2. Nobody

  Dynamic Duo – Last Days (August 25, 2008) (Mnet Media)

6. 해변의 Girl (feat. 박진영)

   Back to Stage (November 19, 2007) (Loen Entertainment)

  1. Kiss
  2. 니가 사는 그집
  3. 니여자
  4. Delicious (니 입술이)
  5. Single (Feat. Bobby Kim)
  6. 딴따라 블루스
  7. 사실은
  8. 나 돌아가
  9. 이런 여자가 좋아 (featuring Dynamic Duo, 전제덕)
  10. 위험한 장난
  11. 엇갈렸어(Featuring t 윤미래)
  12. 대낮에 한 이별 (Featuring 선예(Wonder Girls))
  Legend Jeon Young Rok – 30th Anniversary Tribute Album (December 13, 2002) (Doremi)Disc One

5. 나를 잊지 말아요

   Rain (Bi) – Bad Guy (April 28, 2002) (JYP Entertainment)

11. What’s Love (featuring Danny, Lexy, Byul and JYP)

   Game (2001) (Dae Young AV Music)Disc 1

  1. Swing Baby
  2. 방문에서 침대까지
  3. 난 여자가 있는데
  4. 음음음
  5. 너의 손끝
  6. 창살없는 감옥
  7. 마지막 밤
  8. 처음 만난 남자와
  9. 놀이
  10. 해 달 별
  11. 밀애
  12. 데자부
Disc 2
  1. 날 떠나지마
  2. 너의 뒤에서
  3. 사랑 일년
  4. 청혼가
  5. 엘리베이터
  6. 영원히 둘이서
  7. 썸머 징글벨
  8. 그녀는 예뻤다
  9. Honey
  10. 십년이 지나도
  11. 사랑하기 때문에
  12. 왜 왜
  13. Kiss Me
  14. 회상
  15. 떠나서
  16.  헤어지면서
   Kiss Me (1998)

  1. Kiss Me
  2. 말을해
  3. 헤어지면서
  4. 안돼란 말은 안돼
  5. 회상
  6. 떠나서
  7. 내게 날아와
  8. 눈이 올때마다
  9. 재회
   Even After 10 Years (1998)

  1. Honey
  2. 천년의 사랑
  3. 졸업
  4. 뭔가 이상해(featuring 김진표,진주)
  5. 그녈 잡아요
  6. 십년이 지나도
  7. 날 데려가요(Featuring DANNY)
  8. 사랑하기 때문에(98 Vibe Version)
  9. 그날이 오면-서로 떨어져 있는 연인들을 위해
  10. Everynight
   Summer Jingle Bell (1997)

  1. 썸머징글벨
  2. 그녀는 예뻤다
  3. 사랑인지 뭔지
  4. 그대로 그렇게
  5. 또 하루가 가고
  6. 그댄 예뻐요
  7. 이별 탈출
  8. 내 사랑아
  9. 사랑할까요
 IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE  Kim Hyung Suk – 1st Project Album AC+E (1997)

5. 엄마 아빠 제발

   Kim Won Jun – Dear (1995)

6. Jungle Boogie

   Tantara (1995)

  1. 나는…
  2. 너를 보내기 전에
  3. 청혼가
  4. 엘리베이터
  5. 돌아서며
  6. 이별(Featuring 인순이)
  7. 영원히 둘이서
  8. 잊을 수 있어
  9. 이별을 먼저 배웠기에
  10. 기다렸던 고백
  11. 사랑일년(Remix)
   Blue City (1994)

  1. 날 떠나지마
  2. 너에게 묻고 싶어
  3. 마이걸(My Girl)
  4. 아픔속에서
  5. 너의 뒤에서
  6. 사랑일년
  7. 아직 기다리는지
  8. 사랑 때문에
  9. 너에게 묻고싶어(Ending Version)

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DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES

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Often shortened to “Omo!” A type of “Oh my!” expression used to express surprise.

Omona! Wondergirls' Sohee's famous line from their hit "Tell Me." credit:http://pics.livejournal.com/icecapades

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BASICS

FANFACTS

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

Back row, L to R: Ye Eun, Sun Ye ; Front row, L to R: Yoo Bin, So Hee, Hye Lim; Credit:https://iloveohkpop.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/park-jinyoung-restricts-wonder-girls-for-dating/

Name Wonder Girls
Meaning of Name They were introduced through the television series “MTV Wonder Girls”
Members
  • Yoo Bin (Kim Yu Bin)
  • Ye Eun (Park Ye Eun, “Yenny”)
  • Sun Ye (Min Seon Yeh, “Sun”, leader)
  • Sun Mi (Lee Seon Mi)*
  • Hyuna (Kim Hyun Ah)**
  • So Hee (Ahn So Hee)
  • Hye Lim (Woo Hye Rim, maknae)

* No longer in Wonder Girls
** left to join 4minute

Debut February 13, 2007
Status Active
Label JYP Entertainment (2007-present)
Fan Name Wonderful
Origin of Fan Name The fans are full of wonder for the Wonder Girls.
Fan Club Website(s) http://www.wondergirlsworld.com/
http://www.facebook.com/wondergirlsworld
Related Websites http://wonderfulsworld.com/
http://wondergirls.wordpress.com/

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FAN FACTS
Coming Soon!
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VIDEOS
Coming Soon!
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DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

2 Different Tears(Released: May 16, 2010)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. 2 Different Tears (English Ver.)
  2. So Hot (English Ver.)
  3. Tell me (English Ver.)
  4. Nobody (English Ver.)
  5. 2 Different Tears (Remix)
  6. Nobody (Rainstone Remix)
  7. Nobody Jason Nevins Remix
  8. 2 Different Tears
  9. 2 Different Tears(Chinese Ver)
  10. 2 Different Tears (Karaoke)
  11. 2 Different Tears (Instrumental)
  Nobody (English Version)(Released: June 29, 2009)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. Nobody (English Version)
  2. This Fool
  Anybody(Released: November 18, 2008)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. Anybody (featuring Dynamic Duo, San E, J.Y. Park)
The Wonder Years-Trilogy(Released: September 26, 2008)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. Intro
  2. Nobody
  3. I Tried
  4. Saying I Love You
  5. Nobody (Rainstone Remix)
  6. Nobody (Instrumental)
  7. I Tried (Instrumental)
  8. Saying I Love You (Instrumental)
  9. Nobody (Rainstone Remix) (Instrumental)
  So Hot(Released: June 3, 2008)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. So Hot
  2. This Time
  3. You’re Out
  4. Tell Me [Rap version]
  Army Song (Released: November 21, 2008)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. 아미송 (Army Song)
Jjoyo Jjoyo(Released: November 26, 2007)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. 쪼요쪼요 (미니게임천국 3 주제가)
  2. 쪼요쪼요  (MR Version)
The Wonder Year(Released: September 12, 2007)
(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. I Wanna
  2. 이바보
  3. Tell Me
  4. Friend
  5. 
Headache
  6. 뭐 어때
  7. Wishing On A Star
  8. Move
  9. 가져가
  10. Goodbye
  11. Bad Boy
  12. 미안한 마음 ~Tears~
  13. Irony (Released as The Wonder Begins)
Sorry Heart ~Tears~/Mianan Maum…(Released: April 27, 2007)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. 미안한 마음 ~Tears~
  2. 미안한 마음 ~Tears~ – Instrumental Ver.
The Wonder Begins(Released: November 21, 2008)(Label: JYP Entertainment)

  1. Irony
  2. Bad Boy
  3. 미안한 마음
  4. Irony (Tae Kwon – Daybreak Remix)

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