RASKB Lecture Video: Girls' Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop by Dr. Stephen Epstein

This lecture is from October 2011 and was given by Dr. Stephen Epstein. The lecture is available as both a video and as an audio recording only. It was filmed by Henry Hwang. Check out our upcoming lectures and previous lecture videos (North Korea and rewriting Korean history).

Audio Only

The hottest phrase in Korea nowadays is undeniably 'girl group.' But girl group fever is more than just a trend: it's symbolic of a cultural era that is embracing the expulsion of authoritarian ideology." So reads the content blurb for a story on the rise of girl groups in the March 2010 issue of Korea, a public relations magazine published under the auspices of the Korean Culture and Information Service. Nonetheless, despite official, top-down promotion and cheerful assertions that this phenomenon is a liberating pop movement, a reading of the lyrics and visual codes of the music videos of popular contemporary Korea girl groups raises serious questions about the empowering nature of "Girl Group Fever.

This lecture will engage in a close analysis of the music and videos of groups such as the Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation, KARA, T-ara and the discourse that has surrounded their rise to popularity in South Korea, in order to challenge the notion that contemporary consumer society is making a radical break from more traditional, deeply embedded power structures and argue that a set of recurrent tropes in the studied media and marketing presentation of Korean girl groups undercuts claims to a progressive ethos.

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