Imagining Korean Spaces: Authenticity through Visual Koreanness in Korean Popular Music Videos

Dr. CedarBough T. Saeji
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for student non-members (with Student ID); free for members


Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch lecture series

Imagining Korean Spaces:

Authenticity through Visual Koreanness

in Korean Popular Music Videos


이미지: 실내

In this paper, I explore the contradictions and effects of the use of imagined and real Korean settings and Korean traditional iconography in recent videos from independent musical artists, with a particularly close reading of the rapper Beenzino's mid-2016 release "January." The video takes place in settings that signify Koreanness, and significant symbols of Korea appear in each. I examine the use of Korean spaces and icons and ask why independent artists use such spaces more often than the top stars treated as unofficial ambassadors of the nation. I argue that "January," as an extreme example of the trend of conspicuous insertion of Korea-specific visual imagery in recent K-pop videos, demonstrates an extension of the hip-hop politics of authenticity - Korean performers are asserting their authentic hip-hop identity by incorporating Korea as a character into their videos.

CedarBough T. Saeji has an MA in Korean Studies from Yonsnei University, and a PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA. Saeji has taught Korean Studies at University of British Columbia, Korea University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington. Publications have appeared in edited volumes on women in traditional performing arts, Korean screen cultures, theatre in Asia, and intangible cultural heritage and journals including Journal of Korean Studies, Korea Journal, Acta Koreana, Pacific Affairs, Asia Theatre Journal, and Asia Pacific Journal. Saeji is currently co-organizing a conference and journal special issue on Korean hip-hop, co-editing a volume on Korean tradition, and just began using Twitter @TheKpopProf.

Venue:          Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace,

                      Gwanghwamun (near Anguk Station, across street from Japanese Embassy)

                      * Somerset Palace is no longer providing free parking.


Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email -

Find Us On...


Subscribe to Syndicate