I Read a Book: Lee and Nornes’ Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media

psy-hallowen-costume-600x450by Raizel Liebler

Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media (University of Michigan 2015), edited by Sangjoon Lee and Abe Markus Nornes, is an excellent entry to the ever-growing field of Korean pop culture studies (in English).

The shadow of Psy looms large over the book — and he even appears triumphantly on the cover in Paris. But the Korean pop culture wave is bigger than the horsie dance song that is the most well-known aspect of kpop. And this book covers issues ranging from the historical background of Hallyu (the Korean wave), to the performative packaging of girl groups, to negative reactions to Korean pop culture. Every chapter is interesting in its own right, but the entire book as a whole demonstrates the importance of taking pop culture studies seriously.

While the book is excellent from beginning to end, I want to especially highlight one essential chapter, Of the Fans, by the Fans, for the Fans: The JYJ Republic by Seung-Ah Lee. This chapter delves into a contract dispute between one of the major Korean entertainment labels (SM) and three of the five members of TVXQ, one of the best selling Korean boy bands. If that were all, it would be interesting enough, but the fan actions throughout the dispute are forceful — and a compelling example of the power of fans, not only to be heard, but to push for change. This case plays as an important a role in shaping the boundaries of Korean entertainment contracts as the Coogan Act and California’s seven year rule played in shaping American entertainment contracts — and reading such a detailed essay in English should be included in comparative entertainment law classes.

Summary: An excellent coverage of the influence of social media on the spread of Korean pop culture. I know I will be citing to many of the essays in my future work! Highly recommended for those interested specifically in Korean pop culture, communications studies, music studies, and more. And Creative Commons licensed!

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