K-pop group Sistar
It seems that as well as being a pop-cultural phenomenon that saw Gangnam Style become the most watched video on Youtube, K-Pop is now leading academics to write scholarly papers on the “symbiosis and parasitism” of attempts by fans to mimic idol groups’ dancing.
There has been resistance from the establishment who worry that erudite work on subjects like neo-Confucianism is being overtaken by papers about squeaky-clean Korean boy bands.
Clark Sorensen, a Korean studies professor at the University of Washington, says that while he understands the appeal of K-Pop for younger academics, “I myself have not chosen to do that kind of research, and I don’t care about that kind of research.”
Despite the ivory tower resistance, K-pop scholars may be winning the argument as K-pop’s scholarly appeal spreads within the academic community.
Last year, Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton Economics professor, uploaded a fake course online for “Introductory Korean Drama” to Princeton’s website.
After watching Korean soap operas every day for six years, he deconstructed the cliches at the heart of these programs’ appeal.
Among the ironclad rules, he argues: ‘No Korean daughter in-law can make kimchi, or cook rice, or prepare muddy fish as well as does her mother-in-law.”