- October 8 - CedarBough Saeji: "How Cultural Difference Became K-pop's Key to Success around the World"
How Cultural Difference Became K-pop's Key to Success around the World
October 8, 8:30 pm EST
Registration for Zoom required: https://iu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8eajX7LxQDCEnoRb9zkpFQ
What is Korean popular music (K-pop) and how is it different from American popular music? How does it continue to attract new audiences despite linguistic barriers? In North America many people have only recently heard about K-pop, the genre-fluid industry that is taking the world by storm. As top stars have appeared on all the major American late night interview programs, and caused a sensation internationally K-pop has emerged as a cultural force far from its homeland. In this presentation I will sketch the history of this industry, from entertaining American troops in the 1950s and 1960s, through protest music and to the emergence of K-pop. I will outline how the Korean government changed its policy vis-à-vis the industry until it became part of policy level discussions for soft power and nation branding. Then through an examination of the adroit use of the internet to reach disparate audiences we will arrive at how the industry managed to frame K-pop as something new and different in a way that was perfectly positioned for breaking through to North American youth. Finally, I will explain how through strategically embracing cultural differences, some rooted in Korean traditions, K-pop has seen success not by becoming more Western, but by being unmistakably Korean.
CedarBough Saeji is visiting assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University Bloomington.
- October 22 - Candace Epps-Robertson: "BTS and ARMY: A Synergistic Experience in Transcultural Fandom"
BTS and ARMY: A Synergistic Experience in Transcultural Fandom
October 22, 8:30 pm EST
Registration on Zoom required: https://iu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Q09bH0b7S0K7l0tehwfB-g
BTS, short for Bangtan Sonyeondan or “Beyond the Scene,” is a South Korean boyband that has steadily broken records and charts since their debut in June 2013. BTS are renowned not only for their music and stage presence, but for their ability to deliver messages that resonate with people across the globe. Their expansive global fandom known as ARMY, an acronym for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth, is recognized not only for their support of BTS but for their ability to organize projects that are often oriented towards social issues and fostering intercultural experiences. The artistry of BTS builds a complex archive of experiences and connections that are enticing for many American ARMY who want to both engage with the music and think creatively alongside the artists.
BTS and ARMY are pushing and connecting across borders that often seem impermeable. In this presentation, I will discuss the BTS phenomena with particular attention given to ARMY fandom experiences in America. Just who makes up the ARMY community? What do the fandom demographics reveal about how the messages of these artists connect and inspire such a diverse fandom? How has the relationship between BTS and ARMY impacted American culture? How does the experience of being in a transcultural fandom provide possibility for intercultural exchange?
Candace Epps-Robertson is an Assistant Professor of English and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- November 5 - Jenny Wang Medina: "Korean Literature and Film as 'World Literature and Cinema'”
Korean Literature and Film as “World Literature and Cinema”
November 5, 8:30 pm EST
Registration on Zoom required: https://iu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QEj73ANuS7mcLRbaoOUnRA
Korean literary and visual arts have long been seen as niche interests in the study of “foreign” literature and film. Until the late 2000s, it would have been difficult to find any Korean content while browsing the aisles of your favorite bookstore, video rental store, or multiplex. Now, it’s not uncommon to see bestselling Korean authors sharing space on prominent display tables or top line recommendations for streaming services around the world. What changed? The success of Korean literature and film in the past twenty years is not, as many might think, solely due to the popularity of K-pop. Rather, a concerted effort to engage international “high culture”, or what we might call “World Literature” or “World Cinema” through hosting and participating in international festivals and events made Korean arts active players on the world stage. But visibility is one thing; recognition is quite another. Gaining recognition required accurate transmission of the complexity of Korean arts, and this could only be achieved through highly skilled translation. In this talk, I will discuss Korean literature and cinema’s rise to prominence as a representative World Culture and reflect on what Korea’s “high culture” successes tell us about transnational cultural exchange.
Jenny Wang Medina is Assistant Professor of Korean Literature and Culture at Emory University.
- November 19 - Michelle Cho: "K-Drama Fever: Platforms, Serial Narrative, and Global TV"
K-Drama Fever: Platforms, Serial Narrative, and Global TV
November 19, 8:30 pm EST
Registration on Zoom required: https://iu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fw43DZzTTXe6xOgxDN_KbQ
Television as we know it has transformed in the last two decades, away from network television mainly produced in the form of sitcoms, police procedurals, and medical or courtroom dramas, towards serial narratives, with clear storylines developed across episodes. Alongside this shift towards serial narrative, the notion of “quality television” has changed the way we evaluate TV content, from intentionally mindless entertainment to innovative cultural works. These shifts have been helpful for the rise in popularity of Korean television shows in the US, since Korean narrative television has long been formatted as stand-alone, complete series, with clearly defined beginnings and endings. This talk will introduce you to the characteristics of Korean television serials (K-dramas) that account for their intense binge-ability, and contextualize the place of Korean television content in our increasingly global media landscape.
Michelle Cho is Assistant Professor of East Asian Popular Culture at the University of Toronto.