Between National Trauma and Global Entertainment: Historicizing the Rise of Korean Pop Music and Digital Media


ACLS Fellowship Program


Theater and Dance

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


This project investigates the rapid rise of Korean popular music (K-pop) in relation to the equally meteoric ascent of digital culture—a phenomenon mostly championed by the widespread distribution of internet and mobile gadgets. Close reading of concurrent developments in K-pop and South Korean digital culture leads to layers of paradoxes: for most South Koreans, the market successes of K-pop and technology points to soft power's triumph over historical traumas, but for critics it unveils the alarming power of surveillance through entertainment. By looking into how K-pop artists and high-tech companies collaborate to advance their products in the global market place, this project illuminates how neoliberal impulses and the lingering legacies of the Cold War coexist in today’s South Korea.