Author: reneestewart4

The Korean Wave

Since the early 1990’s K-Pop has really exploded and expanded becoming popular all over the world, this movement is also known as the Korean wave. Before this South Korea was far from “hip”, as everything was highly censored. (The Economist, 2014) It was mind blowing to find out that Korean pop culture wasn’t always glamorous, and was highly censored by the government.

K-pop started it’s take over in East Asia, it’s believed that other Asian countries found k-pop relatable through similar racial resemblance. They could connect with their morals and beliefs as they were similar to theirs. This filled the gap that American pop music left empty, as their music is all about sex, money, violence and tattoos. (Lie, 2012) This then led me to the question, Why is K-pop popular in other countries? I found a great article “What Is the K in K-pop? South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity” that explains that even though there is a language barrier this had been overcome by implementing aspects of Western pop culture such as beauty standards and choreographed dance moves into K-pop artists overall image. I found this quiet interesting that language isn’t a barrier anymore, we can always find was to connect with people from other cultures, through other aspects such as fashion.

Advancements in technology played a huge role in the Korean wave. With the introduction of social media sites such as YouTube and devices like the mp3 player took on huge roles in globalising K-pop. Since the introduction of YouTube in 2005, we have seen a shift in where we source our music from. This is due to the fact that people are able to access any genre of music they want and also have access to discover new genres such as K-pop. (Lie, 2012) YouTube allowed the possibility of exposing this genre of music to the world, which caught the attention of European, Middle eastern and American audiences. (Oh & Park, 2012) This then made K-Pop artist utilise the platform to attract the attention of these new audiences. When reading about this I found it interesting that YouTube was the main that K-pop broke into the western countries. It made me reflect on where music would be without the Internet, and how disconnected the world would be. I also found it quiet interesting that Mp3 players also played a huge role in delivering K-pop around the world. This was due to music becoming digitalised, making it much easier for us to purchase any music of our choice from all around the world.

Overall I feel like I learnt a lot this week about how K-pop migrated around the world and how we can relate to other cultures around the world. The most interesting thing I found out was that social media played a huge role in pushing K-pop into western countries.



Lie, J. 2012, “What Is the K in K-pop? South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity”, Korea Observer, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 339-363.

Oh, I. & Park, G. 2012, “From B2C to B2B: Selling Korean Pop Music in the Age of New Social Media*”, Korea Observer, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 365-397.

The Economist, (2014). Soap, sparkle and pop. [online] Available at:

K-pop Characteristics

This week I looked at two of the many characteristic’s that make a singer, or group K-pop. I thought the best way to find out what these characteristics were was to sit down and watch a few K-pop music videos and see what the re-occurring themes where. When first choosing this topic I had reaslised huge differences, yet some similarities between Pop music and K-pop. One of the first observations I made when seeing a K-pop music video was that it was very 90’s. This was due to the manufactured look, matching outfits and cohesive dance moves, it took me straight back to my child hood when NSYNC and The Spice Girls were all the rage!

An obvious factor that makes up K-pop is your overall look. Already looking at beauty standards in Korea for my group presentation, we saw that a huge contributors to this obsession with beauty was the influence of the desired k-pop look. K-pop stars are expected to look “perfect”, this usually leads to K-pop stars undergoing plastic surgery to give them western features such as the V-line face and the double eyelid.(Tamblyn, 2013) This made me realise that k-pop isn’t necessarily about the music, its about the overall package. K-pop doesn’t really push the “sexy” look that western pop music does, it more so emphasises on cuteness though features such as big round eyes and facial expressions. K-pop has really helped push plastic surgery in Korea making it a social norm. After researching this i have come to the conclusion that to be K-pop you can’t just have a good voice, you must look, dress and act a certain way to be classified as a K-pop artist.

Another observation made when researching K-pop is the amount of members in k-pop groups. Most groups generally have between 4 to 9 members.(, 2011) One band I came across was Topp Dogg that has an astounding 13 members, this was extremely interesting as western pop groups would have on average no more then 5 members per group. So why so many members? An article I found explained that the reasoning behind the amount of members was simply to satisfy their fans. The more members you have the more fans you will have. This will then lead to more merchandise being sold and more tickets being sold to concerts.( KpopStarz, 2014) I found this a very intelligent way of thinking, of course they are going to benefit from having more members.

Overall this week I found it interesting finding out some characteristics that makes up the K-pop world. Although when doing this research I had difficulty finding journal articles on this particular topic. Other characteristics i hope to explore next include their lyrics and the music.


KpopStarz, (2014). Why Do K-Pop Groups Have So Many Members?. [online] Available at:, (2011). The Beginner’s Guide to KPOP. [online] Available at:

Tamblyn, A. (2013), K-Pop Beauty Factory.


From the start of Digc330 I have found the term Autoethnography hard to grasp. Although it is simply a reflection and explanation of your understanding and experience, I have been finding it hard to reflect on my experience without comparing it to the western world too much. After reading “Autoethnography: an overview” my understanding became much clearer and now I recognise how to write an autoethnography.

When starting my research I wasn’t completely new to the idea of K-pop, as I would watch Pop Asia on SBS occasionally. I feel as though this impacted me being able to express my experience as I wasn’t starting fresh, due to my prior knowledge on the topic. Although in saying this after doing some more research and really identifying the key components that make up K-pop, my understanding has completely flipped. As my opinions and understanding of K-pop changed I feel as though I have just recited articles and literature around my topic, rather then express what my thoughts were on this discovery and whether or not I agree with what is being written. I do try and reflect at the end of each post, but after becoming more aware of what an autoethnography was I will be reflecting throughout my blog posts.

“Autoethnography: an overview” changed my understanding of my aim for my project which is to almost make readers feel as though they are experiencing this with me, sharing ideas and epiphanies that I have had during my research. I now understand to achieve this I must compare and contrast my experience with previous literature on the same topic. (Ellis, Adams and Bochner, 2011) This will help me emphasise what I am trying to communicate and will allow my research to become more sufficient. It will allow me to check whether or not my ideas and concepts around K-pop are relevant. I feel that knowing this I can now reflect stronger and my blog posts may become easier to understand and will feel more personal.

In my next posts you will see me reflecting on my overall experience more by sharing my opinions, feelings, thoughts and observations I have made during my research.



Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: an overview. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, pp.273–290

The K-pop industry

This week I looked at the k-pop industry and the functionality of how it is run. In 2009 the k-pop industry as a whole made over $30 million dollars, since they have started to break into the Western market this number has since doubled. (Williamson, 2011) Although this looks like a success there are few downsides to the K-pop industry itself. Including the infamous slave contracts, the k-pop market and the choosing of k-pop stars.

The k-pop industry is made up of many agencies but there are three that are most common which are also known in Korea as “The Big three”. These include S.M. Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. It is very similar to the pop industry as they have a similar “big three” these include Sony music entertainment, Universal music group and Warner Music Group. When reading this I didn’t find it any different to the western pop world as the top three basic control all Popular singers. But there was one thing that I though was very interesting, is that the contracts that these agencies have their artists sign.

These contracts are also known as the “slave” contract. The biggest successes in the k-pop industry have been built on these slave contracts with long extensive deals with little control over anything and little financial reward. (Williamson, 2011) Successful groups such as Dong Bang Shin Ki, have been victims of these contracts and have tried to get their rights back. They took their management company to court, as they believed their 13 year contract was too long, too restrictive and gave them very little of their profits from their success. (Williamson, 2011)

As the cd market has gone down and illegal downloading has been introduced the k-pop industry find it hard to make money of the actual music. Most of the money comes from advertisers and concerts. Although even though cd’s aren’t the place where they make their money there is a massive difference in price comparing it to the American music market, the average song on iTunes is $0.99 whereas in Korea the average price of a song on iTunes is $0.06. (Nguyen, 2011) This is a huge difference and I feel is the main reason for the “slave contracts” .

The K-pop industry works in a very particular way. Most of the major labels have casting calls every week to scout new talent, where they are chosen based on the way they look, sing and dance. (Cain, 2013) Some K-pop stars have even been scouted off the street based on their looks. As long as everybody looks like they are the part it their talent doesn’t necessarily matter. ( Sydney Morning Herald, 2013) Most K–pop stars are scouted when they are young and put through intense training camps from anywhere between 4 and 10 years, where they learn multiple languages, dance, singing and receive makeovers, with many of them resulting in plastic surgery. (Cain, 2013)

Overall my experience of researching the industry side left me astounded. Purely because the k-pop industry is almost like a “Celebrity” factory, creating talent and altering peoples look to making sure they are well received.


Cain, G. (2013). K-pop’s dirty secret. [online] GlobalPost. Available at:

Nguyen, N. (2011). BBC’s The Darker Side of KPOP sheds light on slave contracts. [online] Ningin. Available at:

Sydney Morning Herald, (2013). Australian idols of the K-pop world. [online] Available at:

Williamson, L. (2011). The dark side of South Korean pop. [online] BBC News. Available at:

The world of K-pop!

For my final project I will be making a Prezi exploring the different aspects that make up the K-pop industry. To do this I will be looking at five different aspects that make up the k-pop industry including:

  • Looking at popular K-pop stars and how they use their social media site, e.g. sponsorships
  • Investigating the k-pop characteristics, what sets this aside from normal pop music? E.g. sound, fashion, dance, makeup and overall presentation.
  • I will be looking at the fan culture and how k-pop stars have extreme success
  • The industry side of k-pop, e.g. their contracts, the way the industry is run.
  • The k-pop movement, why has this genre of music taken off all around the world.

I have chosen to explore k-pop due to my personal interest, particularly in the industry and the overall lifestyle that comes with being a k-pop star. I have found major differences in the overall culture when comparing it to western pop industry’s culture. I also believe that this topic needs to be talked about as it is not really brought to our attention about the way the industry is being run with the so called “slave contracts” and also how musical talent has no influence in the scouting of k-pop stars, its all based on beauty. Lastly K-pop has made major impacts on Korea’s overall opinions on beauty, which has led to this pro-plastic surgery movement to make yourself look more western.

I will presenting all of my findings in a Prezi. I believe that a Prezi is the perfect platform for my digital artefact as it allows me to be both visual and include information, without it being in one huge chunk. I also feel like it will allow me to explore each idea and still be able to link them, turning it into a form of digital storytelling. At the end of the prezi I will include an account of my personal experience and my overall opinion and understanding of the K-pop world.


This week when researching a peripheral diapora I came across the famous Korean-Australian YouTuber Jeniffer also known as meejmuse. I found her YouTube channel whilst looking for beauty bloggers, I thought it was interesting that she was Korean-Australian currently living in Korea.

She plays an activity part in both countries/cultures. Not only does she work for Cleo magazine Australia as a beauty ambassador, she is a presenter for Ariring tv’s Korea today morning as a k-stylist. Ariring tv is an international English network based in South Korea that is operated by the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation.

When reading this I had a sudden realisation that Jeniffer in some sense is a peripheral part of two Diasporic groups, one being Australians who live in Korea and the other being Koreans that live in Australia. It was interesting to me that she was living in Korea but was still continuing to do her YouTube videos in English, making her an representative for the Korean-Australian community. It was great to see her embracing both cultures not solely sticking to one.

Jeniffers YouTube channel Meejmuse is not only great for beauty tips, but she has tutorials on how to create Korean looks, once again referring to her Korean heritage.

Videos for the Meejmuse YouTube channel are all filmed and edited in a way that would be described as a digital story. She starts off by filming the makeup tutorial and then adds in a narration of her voice over the top. I believe that by her using this form of digital story telling she is magnifying the voice of the Korean-Australian community giving them a platform.

Lastly whilst looking into Jeniffers other social media accounts I came across her blog where I found one post that was particularly interesting. It was a post about growing up as a Korean-Australian and explained some of the struggles and hurdles that came with being part of two cultures. This blog in itself gave Korean-Australian’s a voice and after reading it gave me a clearer idea of how confusing it must have been for someone to grow up with two identities that resulted from being part of two cultures.

My overall experience in exploring Jeniffers career as a stylist was interesting as I thought it was motivating that she was not only sticking to exploring her Korean side on camera, she was doing something for those Australian-Koreans as well. It was a very inspiring experience when investigating a peripheral diaspora group.


This week I chose to look into the celebrity culture of K-pop, particularly looking into the Korean sensation Hyuna. Kim Hyuna is south Korean rapper, dancer, songwriter and model. She is best known for being part of the k-pop group 4Minute, where her roll is a rapper. It’s almost implied that if you’re going to be famous you must have all social networking accounts, to make sure you are present for your fans. It nearly essential to have a relationship with your fans if you want to make money, as they are the ones buying your products and are the ones allowing you to get endorsements. Being in one of the largest k-pop groups, kim Hyuna has the same implied role, to make sure she is active online so that her fans don’t lose interest.

When researching Hyuna I found out that she has been inactive from twitter for two years, which is weird to see when someone is so popular and isn’t utilising their twitter account. Twitter is one of the most popular platforms for celebrities to connect with their fans. As it is easy to reply to questions and the word limit help saves time as they have to be short and precise. In saying this I have noticed she is very popular on Instagram with over 1 million followers with each photo have thousands of likes and comments.

After researching Hyuna I wanted to compare the difference in social media use with another member out of her band 4minute, I came across Kwon So-Hyun. So-Hyun is very active on twitter she tweets multiple times everyday, another platform she is very active on is Instagram. What I found interesting about So-Hyun is that she has about 100,000 less followers on twitter then Hyuna and about ¼ of the amount of Instagram followers as Hyuna even though she is more active. This made me think that maybe she is more active on twitter to expand her fan base, or maybe her being so active has caused her to lose followers.

Overall I’ve realised that these two stars aren’t as active on social media as they could be, Although they still have a great following of fans and seem to be a very powerful part of the K-pop world.

K-pop… taking over the world!

My initial encounter with k-pop was odd, to me it sounded like any other pop music, although what I found when watching music video’s is that they are all over the top. Whereas in Western Pop music there are fewer artists that go to extreme lengths to be exaggerated.

Another observation made was that K-pop consists of many groups, far more than what we see today in Western Pop music. In America and Australia, boy bands and Girl groups were a massive part of the 90’s, early 2000’s but soon died down when the term “boy band” had negative connotations, as the term started to be seen as “un-cool”. Whereas in Korea girl groups and boy bands seem to be all the rage, there are no negative connotations with this idea of being in a boy band or girl group. They seem to embrace choreographed dance moves and matching outfits.

After doing some research and watching many more K-pop music video’s I came to the conclusion that K-pop has become its own sub-genre of music rather than being the pop music of Korea. Much like the JRPG’s has become its own genre, simply because of the certain style rather than where it comes from. Thanks to the internet K-pop has had the ability to go global, which has caused a change in who is making this unique style of music. For example the girl group “The Gloss” have made this clear, that you don’t have to be Korean or have a Korean appearance to be in a K-pop band, as they have one member from France named Olivia.

Lastly I found it very interesting that most Korean Popstars are scouted solely on their looks not on their ability to sing or dance. For example Yu who is from Sydney went to Korea and was scouted on the street, they didn’t know anything about him, whether he could sing or not he was going to be in a K-pop group. Korean popstars go through intense training sessions where they learn to speak other languages, sing and dance. They are basically manufactured popstars.


Hey guys,

My name’s Renee, I’m a third year BCM student majoring in Digital media. This will hopefully be my final session at UOW, that’s if i pass everything (fingers crossed haha). Next year I plan on travelling and then coming back to uni or college to study television production. Hopefully after finishing that degree I will have a job as a producer!

I have travelled to some parts of Asia including Thailand and Malaysia and found the culture completely different to ours, which is what made it so interesting. I also find Pop Asia on SBS very interesting because everything is so over the top, nothing is ever simple! These are some of the main reasons for choosing this subject, along with the fact that i don’t know that much about digital Asian cultures and am very eager to learn.

The field i would like to look at this semester is either the use of social media in Asian cultures or music in asian cultures. I feel like these two topics would be very interesting, as they play such a big part in our day-to-day lives, it would be interesting to see the impact these two fields have on Asia.