From Factory Girls to K-Pop Idol Girls

by Gooyong Kim (Author)

Focusing on female idols’ proliferation in the South Korean popular music (K-pop) industry since the late 1990s, Gooyong Kim critically analyzes structural conditions of possibilities in contemporary popular music from production to consumption. Kim contextualizes the success of K-pop within Korea’s development trajectories, scrutinizing how a formula of developments from the country’ rapid industrial modernization (1960s-1980s) was updated and re-applied in the K-pop industry when the state had to implement a series of neoliberal reformations mandated by the IMF. To that end, applying Michel Foucault’s discussion on governmentality, a biopolitical dimension of neoliberalism, Kim argues how the regime of free market capitalism updates and reproduces itself by 1) forming a strategic alliance of interests with the state, and 2) using popular culture to facilitate individuals’ subjectification and subjectivation processes to become neoliberal agents. As to an importance of K-pop female idols, Kim indicates a sustained utility/legacy of the nation’s century-long patriarchy in a neoliberal development agenda. Young female talents have been mobilized and deployed in the neoliberal culture industry in a similar way to how un-wed, obedient female workers were exploited and disposed on the sweatshop factory floors to sustain the state’s export-oriented, labor-intensive manufacturing industry policy during its rapid developmental stage decades ago. In this respect, Kim maintains how a post-feminist, neoliberal discourse of girl power has marketed young, female talents as effective commodities, and how K-pop female idols exert biopolitical power as an active ideological apparatus that pleasurably perpetuates and legitimates neoliberal mantras in individuals’ everyday lives. Thus, Kim reveals there is a strategic convergence between Korea’s lingering legacies of patriarchy, developmentalism, and neoliberalism. While the current K-pop literature is micro-scopic and celebratory, Kim advances the scholarship by multi-perspectival, critical approaches. With a well-balanced perspective by micro-scopic textual analyses of music videos and macro-scopic examinations of historical and political economy backgrounds, Kim’s book provides a wealth of intriguing research agendas on the phenomenon, and will be a useful reference in International/ Intercultural Communication, Political Economy of the Media, Cultural/ Media Studies, Gender/ Sexuality Studies, Asian Studies, and Korean Studies.

Book details

Contributor
Douglas Kellner (Introduction author)
Publication date
December 17, 2018
Publisher
Collection
Page count
196
ISBN
9781498548830
Paper ISBN
9781498548847
File size
1 MB