The Korean Popular Culture Reader

The Korean Popular Culture Reader

Book Pages: 464 Illustrations: 71 illustrations (incl. 9 in color), 2 tables Published: February 2014

Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies, Media Studies

Over the past decade, Korean popular culture has become a global phenomenon. The "Korean Wave" of music, film, television, sports, and cuisine generates significant revenues and cultural pride in South Korea. The Korean Popular Culture Reader provides a timely and essential foundation for the study of "K-pop," relating the contemporary cultural landscape to its historical roots. The essays in this collection reveal the intimate connections of Korean popular culture, or hallyu, to the peninsula's colonial and postcolonial histories, to the nationalist projects of the military dictatorship, and to the neoliberalism of twenty-first-century South Korea. Combining translations of seminal essays by Korean scholars on topics ranging from sports to colonial-era serial fiction with new work by scholars based in fields including literary studies, film and media studies, ethnomusicology, and art history, this collection expertly navigates the social and political dynamics that have shaped Korean cultural production over the past century.

Contributors. Jung-hwan Cheon, Michelle Cho, Youngmin Choe, Steven Chung, Katarzyna J. Cwiertka, Stephen Epstein, Olga Fedorenko, Kelly Y. Jeong, Rachael Miyung Joo, Inkyu Kang, Kyu Hyun Kim, Kyung Hyun Kim, Pil Ho Kim, Boduerae Kwon, Regina Yung Lee, Sohl Lee, Jessica Likens, Roald Maliangkay, Youngju Ryu, Hyunjoon Shin, Min-Jung Son, James Turnbull, Travis Workman


“There is plenty of interesting material for those interested in Korea. . . . The book doesn’t lack for intriguing topics, which also include challenges facing the country’s drive to market Korean food abroad, media portrayals of female Korean athletes and the country’s unique gaming culture. . . . Korea’s standing on the international stage and the challenges of explaining sudden cultural phenomena such as the ‘Gangnam Style’ craze seem to necessitate the need for better contextualization of hallyu. The Korean Popular Culture Reader is welcome in this respect."
— Kim Young-jin, Korea Times

“Lively and informative. . . . One of the most comprehensive looks at hallyu, phenomena past and present.” — Bill Drucker, Korean Quarterly

"It is exciting to observe the emergence of an academic field in relation to a new historical situation. The move to establish a field of Korean popular culture studies resembles the formation of British cultural studies in the 1960s through research on the politics of postwar mass culture. This past year sadly witnessed the passing of Stuart hall, but the publication of The Korean Popular Culture Reader is a substantial tribute to hall’s far-reaching legacy."   — John R. Eperjesi, Amerasia Journal

“The essays are in the majority of cases extremely well written and logically categorized, providing for each topic (e.g., music, technology) a well-connected group of readings . . . .  [I]t should prove intriguing to those interested in developments leading to the current state of Korean popular culture." — Craig L. Shufelt, Library Journal

"Telling as much about Korea, its society and history, as about popular culture, The Korean Popular Culture Reader should satisfy the intellectual thirst of scholars and students in Korean studies, cultural studies, and Asian studies." — Youjeong Oh, Journal of Asian Studies

“[T]his volume nurtures the readers with a generous abundance of information on Korean popular culture. It is well designed and thoughtfully presented and makes a convincing contribution to a growing body of literature on Korean studies, media studies, and anthropology. It is a must-read book for those who desire a common introduction to the diverse local cultural landscape and those interested in popular culture in tandem with Korean society and culture.” — Dal Yong Jin, Pacific Affairs

“This is a solid collection of articles on Korean popular culture, which moves beyond hallyu analysis and provides important historical background. This book is suitable for postgraduate and undergraduate cultural studies courses but also for the current crop of Korean Studies university students, many of who have developed an interest in Korea largely because of the influence of South Korean hallyu. At university level, a true understanding of contemporary Korean popular cultural practice requires an appreciation of the historical context and also some theoretical insight, and this book provides both.”

  — Andrew David Jackson, Asian Ethnology

The Korean Popular Culture Reader is a rich interdisciplinary cultural studies text. . . . The breadth of the volume is refreshing. . . . [It] fills a void in Korean cultural studies in English, and should reach a wide audience. I am hopeful that it will be read not only by Korean Studies scholars and used in Korean Studies classes, but that its general high quality and thoughtful presentation will allow it to reach those working on other areas of East Asia, and to be used in broader East Asian Studies university courses.” — Bonnie Tilland, Acta Koreana

"[S]timulating and illuminating." — Damien Spry, Media International Australia

"This volume is a pleasurable and intellectually stimulating excursion across the many genres of Korean popular culture. Bringing essays originally written in English together with well-chosen and beautifully translated Korean-language essays, The Korean Popular Culture Reader is a vibrant contribution to the field. This who's who of Korean cultural studies will certainly enjoy a wide readership.",  — Nancy Abelmann, author of The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation

"A must-read for scholars, students, and fans alike, this path-breaking volume explores vitality and diversity of Korean popular culture. Through an international collection of experts, we discover the both the importance of local contexts of production and of the global reach of Korean film, TV, dance, music, and more. It’s a stunning work that will stand as the cornerstone of an emerging field." — Ian Condry, author of The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kyung Hyun Kim is Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Director of the Critical Theory Emphasis at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era and The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema, both also published by Duke University Press.

Youngmin Choe is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface / Youngmin Choe vii

Introduction. Indexing Korean Popular Culture / Kyung Hyun Kim 1

Part 1. Click and Scroll 15

1. The World in a Love Letter / Boduerae Kwon 19

2. Fisticuffs, High Kicks, and Colonial Histories: The Ambivalence of Modern Korean Identity in Narrative Comics / Kyu Hyun Kim 34

3. It All Started with a Bang: The Role of PC Bangs in South Korea's Cybercultures / Inkyu Kang 55

4. As Seen on the Internet: The Recap as Translation in English-Language K-Drama Fandoms / Regina Yung Lee 76

Part 2. Lights, Camera, Action! 99

5. Regimes within Regimes: Film and Fashion Cultures in the Korean 1950s / Steven Chung 103

6. The Quasi Patriarch: Kim Sûng-ho and South Korean Postwar Movies / Kelly Jeong 126

7. The Partisan, the Worker, and the Hidden Hero: Popular Icons in North Korean Film / Travis Workman 145

8. Face Value: The Star as Genre in Bong Joon-ho's Mother / Michelle Cho 168

Part 3. Gold, Silver, and Bronze 195

9. Bend It Like a Man of Chosun: Sports Nationalism and Colonial Modernity of 1936 / Jung Hwan Cheon 199

10. "She Became Our Strength": Female Athletes and (Trans)national Desires / Rachael Miyung Joo 228

Part 4. Strut, Move, and Shake 249

11. Young Musical Love of the 1930s / Min-Jung Son 255

12. Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Group Sound Rock / Hyunjoon Shin and Pil Ho Kim 275

13. The Popularity of Individualism: The Seo Taiji Phenomenon in the 1990s / Roald Maliangkay 296

14. Girls' Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment, and K-pop / Stephen Epstein and James Turnbull 314

Part 5. Food and Travel 337

15. South Korean Advertising as Popular Culture / Olga Fedorenko 341

16. The Global Hansik Campaign and Commodification of Korean Cuisine / Katarzyna J. Cwiertka 363

17. Back Seung Woo's Blow Up (2005–2007): Touristic Fantasy, Photographic Desire, and Catastrophic North Korea / Sohl Lee 385

Bibliography 407

Contributors 431

Index 435
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5501-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5488-8
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