by Raizel Liebler
K-pop: the international rise of the Korean music industry (2015), edited by JungBong Choi and Roald Maliangkay, is another entry in the quickly growing world of edited collections about kpop. Like many edited collections, there isn’t an overall theme; instead, one’s interest in each essay will likely vary based on the subject matter of each essay. They are all well-written, but …
Yes, I am ready for an essay collection that truly delves into these topics touched on in this collection and others – by focusing solely on the influence of kpop on the Japanese music industry (I have yet to read an essay about BoA!); masculinity and femininity (and neither and both) in kpop; the internationalization/localizing of influences and the spread of kpop; or Girls’ Generation (seriously, they deserve their own book). This is not to critique this collection of well-written essays and likely says more about what is accepted in a book proposal for an academic press, but it does make it difficult to compare one academic press kpop book from another (especially considering I try to read them all – like Pokemon)!
Haerin Shin’s The Dynamics of K-Pop Spectatorship: The Tablo Witch-hunt and Its Double-Edged Sword of Enjoyment is a unique addition to the collection. This chapter talks about the anti-fan campaign regarding the Korean rapper Tablo’s graduation from Stanford University. I don’t think Western audiences ever would care about the education of a celeb (see: lack of caring about Tyra Banks + Harvard Business school), but this situation demonstrates the difference between Western and Korean audiences regarding the backstory of a celebrity – and determining the truth behind it.
I’ve included this picture of Big Bang cookies as the image because a similar image was used in the book. How I wish it had been the cover image!
Summary: Good collection of academic essays about kpop. But if you have read another collection, this one doesn’t stand out.