Global Asias

Korean Popular Culture

Soul in Seoul: Black Popular Music in K-pop

Soul in Seoul: Black Popular Music in K-pop interrogates the use of black popular musical aesthetics by modern Korean popular music (K-pop). Using a transnational American Studies lens, the book examines how K-pop deliberately references elements of black popular music genres in a way that is recognized and authenticated by global audiences. This reveals the cultural work of K-pop, which reaffirms black popular music and validates Korean popular culture.  I examine Korean “idol” groups (g.o.d, TVXQ, 2PM, Mamamoo),  R&B artists (Fly to the Sky, Brown Eyes, Brown Eyed Soul, Big Mama), hip-hop performers (Dynamic Duo, Supreme Team, Zion T., Primary, Epik High) and indie groups (Standing Egg, Urban Zakapa, Soulciety).

To follow along with the project, check out the Seoul Soul Playlist!


globalasiampopculture“Hybrid Hallyu: The African American Music Tradition in K-pop.” Global Asian American Popular Cultures. Ed. Shilpa Dave, Leilani Nishime and Tasha Oren. New York: New York University Press, 2016. 290-303. NYU Press.

“[Using South Korean rapper Psy and Korean R&B female group Big Mama,]  I argue for a mode of authenticity that emphasizes black music aesthetics, which allows for participation by non-blacks and recognizes the realities of cultural exchange beyond negative appropriation and imitation. Such black music aesthetics attends to aspects of the music inherent to the genre beyond a particular black experience.  R&B and hip-hop are black musical genres, not because of who performs them, but because the genres themselves contain elements that reflect black aesthetics. Examining music aesthetics does not completely ignore cultural and historical context. Rather, such an examination shifts the emphasis to understanding how such elements are used in a transnational context and complicates authenticity by arguing that Korean artists participate in hip-hop and R&B traditions authentically because their performances reflect the aesthetics of these genres.”

the_global_impact_of_south_korean_popular_culture_hallyu_unbound_by_valentina_marinescu_2370006219071“HallyU.S.A: America’s Impact on The Korean Wave.” Hallyu Unbound: The Impact of South Korean Popular Culture in the World. Ed. Valentina Marinescu. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015. 31-44.  Lexington Books.

“While Hallyu is a Korean cultural movement directed transnationally, it also represents a blending of Korean and various other cultures, particularly American culture.  Before being promulgated globally, Korean culture adopted and adapted aspects of American culture through cultural exchange as a result of a long tradition of American engagement. Coupled with internal political and social changes, these cross-cultural exchanges contributed to the production of Hallyu, resonating with the United States in several important ways.”

thekoreanwave“That’s My Man!: Overlapping Masculinities in Korean Popular Music.” The Korean Wave: Korean Popular Culture in Global Context. Ed. Yasue Kuwahara. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014. 117-132.  Palgrave MacMillian.

“Using the cultural production of TVXQ, an older K-pop group with one of the largest international fan bases, this chapter argues that male K-pop idol groups manifest overlapping masculinities, a range of masculinities that occur simultaneously, that reflect both Korean and American cultural elements.  Multiple and distinct cultures inform male K-pop groups, who mix Korean and African Americans cultures so that they remain recognizable to global audiences. The mixing of these cultures can be seen in the musical production, choreography and styling for music videos, and television appearances.”

Other Publications

Anderson, Crystal S. Review of Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media, by Sangjoon Lee and Abe Markus Nornes. Asian Communication Research 12.2 (2016): 73-77.

Anderson, Crystal S. Review of Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, by Lan Dong. American Studies Journal 52. 1 (2012): 196-197.

Selected Presentations

“East, West, To Seoul, And Back Again: Transcultural Fandom and Korean Popular Music (K-pop).” Paper presented at the Southern American Studies Association Conference, College of William and Mary, 2017.

“K-pop Confidential: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About K-pop!” Presentation at University of Maryland, College Park, September, 2016.

“Soul to Seoul: The Influence of African American Culture on K-pop.” Presentation at California State University, Dominguez Hills, February 17, 2016.

“Listen to the Music: K-pop, Black Music and Citational Practices.” Paper presented at NCORE: 28th Annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education, Washington, DC, May, 2015.

“Glamour Girls: Cross-cultural Visual Aesthetics in K-pop.” Paper presented at the Association for Asian Studies, Chicago, IL, March, 2015.

“Crazy/Sexy/Cool: Multiple Modes of Femininity in K-pop Girl Groups.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeast Conference/Association for Asian Studies, Duke University, 2014.

“Mansae in the USA!: “What K-pop Means in the United States.” Paper presented at Hallyu America: The Global Flow of K-pop, The Center for Korean Studies and Program in Asian American Studies, Binghamton University, April, 2013.

“Imperial Fields of Gold: U.S. Cultural Empire and K-pop.” Paper presented at the Association of Asian American Studies Conference, Seattle, WA, April, 2013.

“Hybrid Hallyu: The American Soul Tradition In K-pop.” Paper presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, Washington, DC, April, 2013.

“A Far East Movement: The Cultural Politics of Asian/Americans in Kpop.” Paper presented at the Association of Asian American Studies Conference, Washington, DC, April, 2012.

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