‘Kim chic’. The popularity of Korean pop culture, appropriately enough, is soaring in East Asia. This is not surprising, as Korean fashion, television shows, films, music and video, and software are all slick and modern in the extreme, if not often precisely my cup of corn tea. Corn tea isn’t even my cup of tea.
The TV shows are invariably concerned with love and matters familial, and seem to reach their zenith in stories of love made untenable by the iron-willed, set-jawed glare of the disapproving mother. The music, as I’ve discussed before, is boyband pap taken to its logical extremes, g.o.d. even with the few ‘street gang’ type groups, who always make me giggle with their hollow posturings. The game software tends to be variations on the theme of the real-time strategy, owing to an odd national obsession with Starcraft (‘Stah-crapuhtuh’) that is perennially made fun of in the gaming community. On the other hand, I’ll admit that the few Korean films I’ve seen have actually been quite good, and hard to generalize about.
I would argue that South Korean pop culture is seen as fresh and edgy but non-threatening not because “they’re Asian and they look like us,” as quoted in the linked article, but because it is non-threatening. Designed that way. Even more blatantly than in the west, pop-culture output is targetted at teenagers here, and it shows. The infantilization of Korean youth continuing right up into their university years, which I’ve touched on before here, virtually guarantees that any truly confrontational or countercultural elements are thoroughly avoided, or sanitized and co-opted, if they appear. This is beginning to change, but slowly. Any sort of ‘adult alternative’, in music or otherwise, is very thin on the ground. [thanks y2karl!]
Pop goes the world!