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K-pop’s goodbye to the girl next door

I know, I am twice in one week posting something K-pop related, but The Grand Narrative’s James Turnbull has written an interesting piece for Haps on the emerging trend of sexuality in Korean girl groups which is well worth a read.

Though they don’t exactly dress like the girl next door, standard-bearers such as Girls Generation certainly sing like they are:

…for all the leg displayed in the MVs, the common theme of the lyrics is the submissiveness, timidity, innocence and/or virginity of the singers, overwhelmed by their strange new feelings for the male love interest.

Of course, most of the songs are written by men, but female lyricists like Kim Eana are shaking things up with more “controversial” themes. And then there is the video “Bloom” by Brown Eyed Girls’ Ga-in.

Sporting blonde locks, two minutes into the video she suddenly appears in a tight red sweater, strongly resembling 1940s Hollywood actresses like Lana Turner—and just as sassy. Add leather hot pants, and you immediately sense something big is up. And, indeed, almost before you know it, she’s masturbating on her kitchen floor.

You can read the rest here.

On a side note, I am a fan of Hyun-a’s tattoo that reads: “My mother is the heart that keeps me alive.” That’s nice.

About the author: Founder/CEO of Meme Communications Korea – www.memecommunications.com

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Why is it that female self-identity is so heavily sex-centered? Its like many of these women are unable to transcend to anything more….interesting and ambitious. Masturbating on the floor? Is that supposed to be some kind of statement? Or more like selling your body for money? One of the rarest things is seeing women with books. do they actually read? and when they do read, do they ever read anything that isn’t about sex/love/relationships/fashion?

  • BobbyMcG

     Videos with girls reading books. That’s kinda hot.

    I always liked Beyonce’s Irreplacable:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EwViQxSJJQ

  • BobbyMcG

    James just emailed me saying he was having trouble posting on Disqus. Here is his comment: For a wider discussion of the songs and themes mentioned in the article, and my translation of a popular Korean music columnist’s thoughts on them, please see here: http://thegrandnarrative.com/2012/12/09/ga-in-bloom-female-empowerment/

  • The Grand Narrative

     Thanks Bobby. In return, here’s a SFW tumblr of girls reading books: http://bookgirls.tumblr.com/archive

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Books as accessories. Like bags and shoes!

  • YangachiBastardo

    I started taking an interest in k-pop in early 2009 and this trend was already going on strong (anybody remembers 손담비 ?).

    Anyway i feel a strange blend of revulsion/fascination for Hyuna: she strangely reminds me of a Korean version of the last mid-decade Britney: forced, unnatural, with such a sad, unpenetrable look on her face… a real punk performer, if you ask me.

    “i fake it so real, i am beyond fake” 

  • bballi

    Do you tell people to get off your lawn much?

  • Cm

    Why can’t there be Kpop music for grown ups? It’s always the 18 year olds flaunting their legs. Same with prime time dramas, it’s all teens on TV, as they get younger and younger.  It’s as if you’re over 30 in Korea, you’re still expected to watch and admire performers half their age, or else it’s as if you’re expected to stop enjoying entertainment altogether because you’re old now.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Are you doing shtick? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Yeah really. Can’t they just “graduate” to the older crowd. Don’t these people realize that there more people over 30. And they complain about protecting minors. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    We have a richer, more diverse music market in North America, but the sales and marketing nevertheless skew heavily toward the youth demographic and away from quality: think Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, One Direction….. shit I wouldn’t touch even with Yangachi’s ears.

    In the K-pop world, there is a dreadful sameness to the sound and interchangeability of most of the artists who aren’t called PSY.  That music doesn’t really have a “next level.” Taking off more clothing is a sure-fire way to distinguish oneself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hankin/1037654521 Richard Hankin

    Park Chung Hee had a mind to change the habits of the “young” women in the 70′s…He, REALLY, had police stop women wearing short skirts and actually MEASURE the length between knee and hem. I think they were “allowed” one inch but i cannot
    remember?
    Ok, I am not a big KPOP fan but I do like Im Jang Hee …and her english is pretty good too….

  • Cm

     He also stopped young men on streets who had long hairs.  They were given haircuts on the spot, and told to act like men, not the girls you see today on Korean streets.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak
  • keyinjpop

    lol That’s funny, in a messed up kind of way.
    On topic, I would like to see more daring and empowering lyrics in girl group songs. Some better stage costumes would be nice too cause those ugly shorts these girl groups wear is killing my rod.

  • wangkon936

    That’s a good point SMS.  If women really want to be considered equals, then they shouldn’t sexualize themselves at all.  It only gives them the illusion of power and objectifies them. If they actually think it gives them power, then it just means they are too young and dumb to really know what’s going on.

  • wangkon936

    Hyuna is just average looking by Korean standards.  I don’t know what the big fuss is about.

  • wangkon936

    Shaddup Cm.  Like every red-blooded ajosshi, I know you like IU.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    But in all fairness didn’t police in the US back in the 50′s stop women and measure skirt length too?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Her music videos are not that great. That’s all that matters. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    I would to see a reduction of girl groups. There are way too many. 

  • Cm

    “Shaddup Cm.  Like every red-blooded ajosshi, I know you like IU.”

     Ewww.. wangkon, just ewwww…

    Just what is up with Korea’s version of Lolita syndrome?

  • wangkon936

    Will never be a creepy as Japan’s.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Pictures please.

  • keyinjpop

    Read my comments again, I said more lyrics not groups. I agree though, less groups and more soloists. In fact, soloists that write their own material would be appreciated, by me at least.

  • keyinjpop

    Agreed, the lolita complex and seifuku obsession is disturbing in real life as it is in manga form. Case in point
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkHlnWFnA0c

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    I meant to say in addition to what you stated that there should be a reduction of girl groups. Too much manufactured stuff and less originality. 

  • pawikirogii 사백인

    the man who runs the blog is the very definition of ‘creepy white guy’. running a blog about koreans having sex. you wouldn’t tolerate a white man running a blog about blacks having sex but when the subject is asians, then, creep away, creep. i remember he wrote a piece in which he informed us that lee hyo-ri’s boobs were the definition of k-pop. yeah, i’m sure her boobs was HIS defintion of k music. the creep.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    pawi, 
    your really should stop picking on him. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Talking about ajosshi. Am I the only one that thinks that Lotte picked the wrong people to advertise their Soju? They should have kept Lee hyori. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    AKB48->Japanese trash. 

  • Joe

    사백인:  You are correct.  That is pretty creepy.  Just the thought of Koreans having sex.  Yuuuccchhh!

  • Cm

    I believe either Wangkon or TK have already touched upon why American pop culture is dominant than anybody else’s, but this article from Financial Times says essentially the same thing:  wealth and power of nations is the advantage to popularity of pop cultures of those same nations, not necessarily creativity.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8c831b72-4a16-11e2-a7b1-00144feab49a.html#axzz2GO1MnWjv
     

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    What’s that word Ga-in utters at 1:30?

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • Cloudfive

    Why is it that female self-identity is so heavily
    sex-centered?….. One of the rarest things is seeing women with books.
    do they
    actually read? and when they do read, do they ever read anything that
    isn’t about sex/love/relationships/fashion?

      Really
    now Salaryman? I think this says more about you than what or whether
    women actually read.

    It’s like saying “why is it that male
    self-identity is so heavily centered on their dick and do they read
    anything other than porn and manga?”  What’s the last book you read?

  • Cm

    It’s not what you think it is.  It’s Korean word for blossom.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

     Last book I read? Well, I’m now finishing “Selected Writings from Mikhail Bakunin.” The last 4 books I finished prior to this were:

    1. Susan Sontag “On Photography”
    2. Henry David Thoreau “Maine Woods”
    3. Amartya Sen “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny”
    4. Basic Writings of Existentialism
    5. Nikolai Gogol “Dead Souls”

    Next on my list: Nietzsche’s “Will to Power.”

    Is male identity heavily centered on sex? Sex is a fun activity, but somewhere in the middle of my personal hierarchy of needs. I don’t think guys base their identity or their “self empowerement” on sex, we simply enjoy it as we enjoy sports, for example. It seems to be something that takes up a much more significant portion of the female self-identity. Just watching music videos, which I do rarely, or going on the street one can see that men do not dress to flaunt their bodies. Men dress with a modicum of modesty. Women seem to want to flaunt it all and be desperate to be noticed. There seems to be a competition on the streets of Seoul to see which girl can dress in the most revealing clothes. In me it raised both feeling of attraction – I enjoy looking – but also feeling of pity for girls who obviously have very little in their noggins beyond the superficial. 99% of videos on music channels with women are nothing but soft porn.

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    Blossom, eh? Could be a morning glory . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • YangachiBastardo

    I think sex/love is for women what sport is for men: often watched, ad nauseam dscussed and very seldom practiced :)

  • Silver Surfer

     So what if they’re moving away from that cutesie cutesie Obbaaa crap to more blatant sexuality? They’re still just selling the V.

    On the other hand, if the market is really embracing that new angle, perhaps it indicates a masculinization of Korean men – moving away from that creepy Lolitadom to real women.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    At pawi’s elementary school reading level, this post is about Koreans having sex.

  • Railwaycharm

    They read books on sex.

  • Railwaycharm

    They read books on sex.

  • wangkon936

    How do I like this 100 times?

  • fe62555555sfe

    a bunch of nonsense 

  • Josh Perlstein

    Good article and yeah, I’ve been noticing this trend for years now.  I think the trains moving way too fast to slow it down now; I just don’t know where it’s going to end up.

  • fe62555555sfe

    agreed

  • wangkon936

    Booby, I have to say that the trend of oversexualizing women (and girls) in Korean music videos isn’t really all that “emerging.”  It’s been going on since that Wonder Girls video “So Hot” came out in like 2008.  Perhaps the term “more common place” is better than “emerging”?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “And, indeed, almost before you know it, she’s masturbating on her kitchen floor.”

    I can’t stand K-pop, but after reading that I had to click on  the link.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    ” It’s been going on since that Wonder Girls video “So Hot” came out in like 2008.”
    Actually, most people would say that K-pop singers expressing sexuality started with this (note that she’s also one of Park Jin-young’s performers):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FccTXjqQrs

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Or rather, she was at that time.  And by “K-pop singers”, I mean female ones.  Park Jin-young already had some problems with the ratings board (they didn’t like the fact that he sang about getting down with his lady).

  • Hardy and Tiny

    what a waste of time

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    I say standard bearers like Girl’s Generation need to move on from the girl next door like singing. That last video on youtube was bordering on waste of bandwidth. Maybe it is time for them to break up.