Category Archives: Kpop

Don’t Forget Your Kpop (HUM415)

Like, have you ever been caught up in some kind of love triangle and then you see the other dude and you’re both really angry so you get into a dance-fight and it’s so super-intense your eye makeup begins to run and you even need a tiny band-aid on your cheek and then, inexplicably, the object of your affection (who actually functions as a point of fantasmatic contact linking you to that other guy according to the gender-normative logic of homosocial rivalry) contracts a fatal disease and dies and then you and the rest of the band storm around the hospital corridor crying and shaking your fists? Me neither. But Big Bang has.

Aegyo (HUM415)

Remember that we’ve dropped Bourdieu and the reading assignment for Thursday is limited to Arundhati Roy’s “Capitalism: A Ghost Story.” Shades of Karl Marx! you might say. And that’s exactly right. The Manifesto begins with the famous assertion that “a spectre is haunting Europe” and Roy, who has spent time with Maoist guerrillas in the back country of India (see Walking with the Comrades) riffs on such metaphors.

We really need to nail down the Harvey and Hall articles, which more or less survey the same terrain, though “After Neoliberalism” is a political manifesto and A Brief History of Neoliberalism is a popular history of the last 30-odd years of capitalism. Try not to let yourself be intimidated by the language. You’ll run across terms that may not be familiar but we will definitely address any gaps in knowledge in class.

I really enjoyed the discussion about “Gee”. As we go more deeply into the (shallow?) pleasures of K-Pop those of you who have training (or a good ear) should never hesitate to draw the class’s attention to the music. And speaking of that, don’t forget to watch Channel 32-6 (or some cable equivalent) for an intermittent dose of Kpop.

The cultural value of cuteness is referred to in Korean as aegyo. Look at this:


She is Wow! (HUM415)


Above: an ad for a recent South Korean television series the title of which, it seems, translates to She is Wow! Obviously, Pelevin comes to mind (“Wow!Wow!Wow!”) but there’s also a Kpop connection here. A-Ra (Oh Hyun-Kyung)– an actress reaching middle age– has a blandly androgynous son named Min-Kyu (Jin Young, a member of B1A4) who has been expelled from school in the United States. This crisis adds to A-Ra’s existing difficulties: her career is suffering because of her age (she’s 43, which is, like, 89 in actress years) and she hasn’t had sex with her self-absorbed husband in a decade or more. Such professional and sexual frustration, then, is the main ingredient for a moderately amusing farce rife with visual and verbal innuendo, one which also showcases the instrumentalization of human relations and the rapacity of the pop culture industry. Watch the first episode and you’ll see what I mean.