1st Edition

Introducing Korean Popular Culture

Edited By Youna Kim Copyright 2023
    320 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This new textbook is a timely and interdisciplinary resource for students looking for an introduction to Korean popular culture, exploring the multifaceted meaning of Korean popular culture at micro and macro levels and the process of cultural production, representation, circulation and consumption in a global context.

    Drawing on perspectives from the humanities and social sciences, including media and communications, film studies, musicology, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, history and literature, this book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of Korean popular culture and its historical underpinnings, changing roles and dynamic meanings in the present moment of the digital social media age. The book’s sections include:

    • K-pop Music
    • Popular Cinema
    • Television
    • Web Drama, Webtoon and Animation
    • Digital Games and Esports
    • Lifestyle Media, Fashion and Food
    • Nation Branding

    An accessible, comprehensive and thought-provoking work, providing historical and contemporary contexts, key issues and debates, this textbook will appeal to students of and providers of courses on popular culture, media studies and Korean culture and society more broadly.

    Introduction: Situating Korean Popular Culture in the Global Culture Landscape

    Youna Kim

    Part 1: K-pop Music

    1. K-pop in the History of the Korean Wave: A Long Revolution

    Younghan Cho

    2. Digital K-pop Fan Platforms in a Cosmopolitan World

    Sarah Keith

    3. Chart Manipulation and Fan Labor in the Online Moral Economy of K-pop

    Stephanie Jiyun Choi

    4. Celebrity Fashion and Fan Consumption: BTS "Jungkook Hanbok"

    Myoung-Sun Song

    Part 2: Popular Cinema

    5. The Rise of New Korean Cinema and Hallyu

    Chi-Yun Shin

    6. Parasite and Snowpiercer as Derivations to Hallyu: Korean Cinema, Neoliberalism and Semi-Global Exclusivity

    Keith B. Wagner

    7. Her Revenge: Low Birthrate Cinema from Lady Vengeance to The Villainess

    Joseph Jonghyun Jeon

    8. The Climate of Cinema: Gender, Debt and the Future of Labor in Squid Game and Parasite

    Soyoung Kim

    Part 3: Television

    9. The Korean Wave Television: From Winter Sonata to Squid Game

    Youna Kim

    10. Netflix and Korean Drama: Cultural Resonance, Affect and Consumption in Asia

    Anthony Fung and Jindong Leo-Liu

    11. Gender and the Paradox of Body Politics in Korean Makeover Television

    Ji-yoon An

    12. Democratization, Social Media and Korean Television in Transition

    Ki-Sung Kwak

    Part 4: Web Drama, Webtoon and Animation

    13. Korean Web Drama on the Rise: The Difference Independent Productions Make

    Jennifer M. Kang

    14. Korean Webtoon and Identity Politics in the Digital Age

    Hyung-Gu Lynn

    15. Transmediating Tradition: Convergence of Premodern Prose, Webtoons and Audio Comics

    Jina E. Kim

    16. Cultural Identity in Transnational Korean Animation: The Stateless Fantasy of Ragnarök

    Daniel Martin

    Part 5: Digital Games and Esports

    17. The Political Economy of the Digital Game Industry: An Analysis of Transnational Capital

    Dal Yong Jin

    18. Techno-Orientalism in Global/Korean Esports: "They Play Games Really Well, But It Is Us to Have Them Play"

    Tae-Jin Yoon and Kyunghyuk Lee

    19. Visualizing the Invisible: Korean Esports and the Representation of Gameplay Skill

    Keung Yoon Bae

    20. Between Super Players and Mega Fans: The Emergence of Data-Led Gaming Environments in Korean Esports

    Peichi Chung

    Part 6: Lifestyle Media, Fashion and Food

    21. South Korean Celebrities and Lifestyle Media

    Olga Fedorenko

    22. K-fashion E-tailers and Consumption in the Global Market

    Eunsuk Hur

    23. Precarious Eating: Young Koreans’ Digital Practice of Mukbang

    Kyong Yoon

    Part 7: Popular Culture and Nation Branding

    24. Branding the Sense of Place: Gangnam as the Epicenter of the Korean Wave

    Pil Ho Kim

    25. First Time in Korea?: The Mediation of Strangeness through Food Practices

    Jaehyeon Jeong

    26. The Korean Wave and Mega-Asia: Imagining a Pan-Asian Community

    Doobo Shim


    Youna Kim is Professor of Global Communications at the American University of Paris, France, joined from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she had taught since 2004, after completing her Ph.D. at the University of London, Goldsmiths College. Her books are Women, Television and Everyday Life in Korea: Journeys of Hope (Routledge, 2005), Media Consumption and Everyday Life in Asia (Routledge, 2008), Transnational Migration, Media and Identity of Asian Women: Diasporic Daughters (Routledge, 2011), Women and the Media in Asia: The Precarious Self (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global (Routledge, 2013), Routledge Handbook of Korean Culture and Society (Routledge, 2016), Childcare Workers, Global Migration and Digital Media (Routledge, 2017), South Korean Popular Culture and North Korea (Routledge, 2019), The Soft Power of the Korean Wave: Parasite, BTS and Drama (Routledge, 2021) and Media in Asia: Global, Digital, Gendered and Mobile (Routledge, 2022).