With the near ubiquity of Korean rapper Psy's video and song "Gangnam Style," most Americans have now had some exposure to the phenomenon of K-Pop, or Korean pop culture. Although K-Pop has been popular and influential in Asia for decades, many Korean artists have had trouble breaking into the US market. In this article in Spin, Kyung Hyun Kim, author of Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era, comments on PSY's ability to break into the U.S. market without sacrificing his Koreanness. "The tendency and thinking so far seems to have been that you have to erase Korean identity somehow to achieve success in the U.S. or overseas," he told Spin. "But I think that's been proven wrong with PSY's success. He's engaged in satirical humor — that I didn't know would translate, but apparently it does — and a kind of grotesque body humor, as well, that I always found outrageously funny when I saw him on [Korean] television over the years. I actually didn't even know he was a musician and a producer and a composer himself because he was just a funny face."
Kim is also the editor, with Youngmin Choe, of the forthcoming book The Korean Popular Culture Reader, which we are publishing in October 2013. The comprehensive and richly illustrated book of original essays will go well beyond current K-Pop phenoms like PSY to cover music, film, television, travel, and food. Contributors include Boduerae Kwon, Michelle Cho, Katarzyna J. Cwiertka, Sohl Lee, and Rachel Miyung Joo. The essays are fun and accessible and the book is suitable for courses as well as for fans of K-Pop. Check out an excerpt from the introduction on our Tumblr. We hope you'll keep an eye out for the book next year.
Asian pop culture fans will also want to check out Rachel Miyung Joo's recent book Transnational Sport: Gender, Media, and Global Korea; and two books coming out this spring: Christine R. Yano's Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek across the Pacific and Ian Condry's The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story.