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Korean Pop

March 1, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

As part of our Spring 2022 series on contemporary Korean culture, please join us for an event with Prof. Erica Vogel (Saddleback College) and Prof. Hyewon Kim (Kennesaw State University) looking at Korean pop music, or K-Pop. This event will be moderated by Prof. Ji-Yeon O. Jo (UNC Asian and Middle East Studies).

This event also coincides with Korea’s National Day, March 1.

Prof. Kim will speak on “Performing the Soundscape of K-pop”:

Because many scholars contend that K-pop is driven by the visual, academic analysis has been dominated by discussions of ocularcentric aesthetics; questions pertaining to K-pop as a process of performing the soundscape, especially as a sonic phenomenon and objectification, largely have been neglected. I approach K-pop utilizing sound theory and elucidate its interplay between technological mediation and perception; I attempt to interrupt the discourse of loss that assumes sound as ephemeral, ineffable, and elusive. Moreover, I treat sound as the combination of layers of culture, place, acoustic space, and technology and therefore aim to provide an aural turn in the discipline of K-pop’s soundscape. The industry’s sonic practices have responded to new recording technologies and new media, which are linked to specific aspects of South Korean time and space. The technological mediation of sound in studio recording booths, where K-pop singers give literal voice to their self-expression, has become an integral component of the sonic form. In addition to the vocal styles of K-pop artists, I therefore address the spectrum of sonic practices of recording artists ranging from singer songwriters to K-pop boy bands—from Lee Moon-sae, Cho Kyuchan, Lee Sora, and Sung Si-kyung to Red Velvet, Suzy, GOT7, and BTS—as well as the interventions of sound engineers and producers in the recording process to exemplify the soundscape of K-pop through the voices of the very artists.

Hyewon Kim is Assistant Professor of English and Asian Studies at Kennesaw State University. Her research and teaching interests focus on the transnational circulation of modern and contemporary drama, theatre, and performance, with particular attention to the intersections between critical race theory; gender and sexuality studies; visual culture; sound studies; and cultural studies. Her first monograph South Korean Musical Theatre: Transnational Encounters will be published with Oxford University Press in 2022, and she has forthcoming work in Modern DramaThe Routledge Companion to Musical Theatre, and The Cambridge Companion to K-pop.

Prof. Vogel will speak on “Unuruly Global Buzz: Creating, Documenting, and Consuming the rise of K-pop in Mexico City”:

This presentation explores the rise of Korean pop music (K-pop) in Mexico City as a venue through which people with unequal privileges establish connections and imagine themselves as producers, consumers and experts of global trends. It looks at how fans, the media, and Korean state entities understand and cultivate their identities, relationships and sense of place through their shared mediation of the global, transnational and discursive fields that constitute the global buzz around K-pop and increasing connections between Asia and Latin America. I discuss the activities of HallyuMex, a fan club preparing a flashmob event at the request of the Korean government, K-pop dance cover groups practicing in front of reflective windows of buildings near Mexican monuments, and reactions to a reality TV show between Arirang TV and Televisa. I argue the transnational circulation of the story of the rising popularity of K-pop in Mexico—and the ways people see themselves as contributing to that story—largely fuels the intensification of what I call global buzz, or people’s desire to circulate and co-consume media products and information related to a distant place. Like globalization, buzz is unruly and many who tried to control it met with various levels of failure. I discuss how while entertainment companies and the Korean state profit from the unpaid affective labor of fans, Mexican fans also create new mobilities with their participation thereby challenging globalization as US-centered and showing ways Asian cultural products create value, identity and meaning as they bypass the United States.

Erica Vogel is Professor of Anthropology at Saddleback College. She is a cultural anthropologist who conducts fieldwork primarily in South Korea, Peru, and Mexico looking at issues of globalization, migration, religious conversion, and transnational flows between Asia and Latin America. Her book called Migrant Conversions: Transforming Connections Between Peru and South Korea was published by the UC Press in 2020 and is based on 24 months of fieldwork in Peru and South Korea with migrants and their families, their religious leaders, and government officials.


This series is free and open to the public and held virtually over Zoom.



March 1, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Categories:
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Carolina Asia Center
View Organizer Website

The Carolina Asia Center supports diverse Asia-related events. However, CAC co-sponsorship of any talk, seminar, documentary screening, film screening, performance or celebration does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein. As an academic institution, we value diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding.

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