For the individual assignment, I wanted to do no other topic other than the area of Korean music as per my passion for the subject and how it has shaped my life. (Refer to my K-pop blog for context)
However, it went against one of Ellis’s Autoethnography ideals of autoethnographers , “not only use supposedly biased data” ( Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P., 2011) and to be neutral to cater to all readers. Since I have been in the K-pop community for almost a decade, it was best not for me to choose something I had such a bias in.
E.g. the Produce 101 series rigging of votes.
In light of my recent Korean theme projects, my final project will look at the difficulty of K-pop dances. While also participating in a K-pop dance myself as the blank slate for this project to get the most unbiased opinion.
This idea stems from the K-netizens judging Blackpink’s Jennie on her lazy dancing. Many Youtube videos and discussion websites like Quora contain harsh comments about Jennie’s laziness among her group activities and comparing her to her solo activities.
So I decided to do a K-pop dance specifically Blackpink’s Ddu-du Ddu-du for my Digital Artefact to fully immerse in a subset of a culture I already had vast knowledge on. While I have always been interested in learning a K-pop dance, I cannot dance at all. But to understand the culture through the eyes of the community (Agar, M. 2002), I was willing to face my fears of public embarrassment.
While being temporarily immersed in this culture, I had experienced various epiphanies regarding K-idols ( Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P., 2011). One of the main epiphanies I had was that most if not all K-pop dances are harder than they appear to seem. Compared to other groups dances like A.C.E’s Undercover and Chungah’s Gotta go, Blackpink’s Ddu-du Ddu-du is deemed by the Korean public to be an easier K-pop dance because of the use of basic moves. However, while that may appear to be the case, the ‘simple’ moves this song uses are very difficult for those who have no dance backgrounds. That being said, it was especially hard for me to learn the dance to the level of K-pop idols in 8 days.
The comparisons between easier and harder K-pop dances are being highlighted increasing on social media platforms which end in fan wars (e.g. Jennie). But why do non-dancers label some K-pop dances as easier or harder? Well, with the increased production of K-pop usually accompanied with new dances, we as a consumer view it and expect more the next time. So, when we get our expectations lowered, we get disappointed and rant about it on social media which leads to the fan wars. That is my understanding of the topic based on my experience.
Other difficult things to monitor was camera placement and facial expression. The camera angles had to be taken into consideration for this project as until about the 4th day I realized that you couldn’t see my legs. Facial expressions were also a hard thing to achieve as a wrong angle from the camera or the wrong expression could completely make the dance look increasingly different.
Overall, this project was a very enjoyable one. Even though I could not dance, there was a sense of enjoyment while dancing as well as the satisfaction when finishing the dance was irreplaceable. Doing this dance made me consider the hard work that K-idols put in to please their fans and also made me respect K-idols even more.
Agar, M. (2002). Ethnography. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B0080430767008597.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095