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Queering Spectatorship in K-pop: The Androgynous Male Dancing Body and Western Female Fandom

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Abstract

Employing performance studies and queer studies, this article explores the subversive nature of western female fandom’s consumption of male dancing bodies in Korean pop (K-pop) culture. By offering close readings of fan-made compilation videos and analysing fans’ comments on YouTube, this article analyses how K-pop male idols’ androgynous gender fluidity provides a space for queering female desire against normative white masculinity. Through video editing, fans ‘choreograph’ their desire by fetishizing K-pop male dancers’ specific body parts and movements and transform themselves from displayed objects to subjects of the gaze. Moreover, through active engagement online, fans transcend their status from spectators to performers who actively enact alternative sexualities and gender roles in a public space. K-pop male singers’ gender performativity is significant, as it challenges rigid gender binaries in western culture – homosexuality/heterosexuality, masculine/feminine body and behaviour, and masculinized gaze/feminized object – as embodiments of hybridized male femininity, which this article calls liminal masculinity.
... My discussion in this article, however, is limited to gender and sexuality to focalize their power to fracture the cishetpatriarchy threaded through the whole K-pop scene. Several scholars, such as Chuyun Oh (2015aOh ( , 2015b and ...
... Despite the syntagmatic conservativeness of rules, norms, and standards when it comes to gender and sexuality, the expressive totality of K-pop is sometimes queerly shown (Oh, 2015b). K-pop's queer theatricality, or theatrical K(Q)ueerness, appears in onstage performances and, most conspicuously, in music videos. ...
... Consequently, I hope to see future studies on what queerness in the K-pop space is and how to further envision this space through a queer lens. In addition, more specific case studies that embody K(Q)ueerness are needed in the vein of Oh's (2015aOh's ( , 2015b works, which can more specifically dissect individual performers' K(Q)ueerness by deciphering their lyrics, audiovisual images, and mannerisms. ...
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This article argues that the K-pop space, which on one level appears to be homogeneously cishetpatriarchal, actually encompasses multiple configurations of gender and sexual identity.Nonetheless, academic discussions about gender and sexuality in K-pop have been significantly weighted toward the idea of “soft masculinity” regarding male performers, thereby muffling other possible interpretations. I suggest a new term, K(Q)ueerness. It means the aesthetics, imaginations, practices, performances, and ideas of K-pop players sublate binaristic identifications, including masculinity and femininity and heterosexual and homosexual—as well as Butler’s distinction between performance and performativity—to embrace the multifarious expressions of gender and sexuality surrounding K-pop. This article aims to highlight diverse modalities of K(Q)ueerness and increase queer sensibility within the K-pop studies discipline and K-pop fan communities.
... En cambio, los idols masculinos resumen en la construcción de su identidad aspectos masculinos y femeninos a la vez: son tiernos y sexys, serios y graciosos. Como bien ha observado Chuyun Oh (2015), en la construcción visual muestra un androginismo o una «masculinidad liminal», debido a la fusión de elementos entre cuerpos esbeltos, algunos musculosos y otros muy estilizados, que se visualizan a través de coreografías elaboradas y demandantes, a lo que se añade la presencia de peinados o colores de cabellos, maquillaje en todas sus presentaciones, accesorios diversos como aretes y collares, vestuarios en su mayoría de reconocidas marcas occidentales, y en algunos casos el uso de vestimenta femenina dentro de sus presentaciones como faldas, sacos o pantalones que pertenecen a la línea femenina de la marca. Uno de los idols más conocidos en este aspecto es G-dragon del grupo Big Bang. ...
... Uno de los idols más conocidos en este aspecto es G-dragon del grupo Big Bang. Es decir, representan un androginismo aceptado en su cultura a la hora de realizar las performance y que genera admiración en las fanáticas mujeres de todo el mundo (Oh, 2015). Las integrantes de covers tomboy estudiadas en esta investigación, ante todo, se identifican con ellos, los admiran y los emulan. ...
Article
Los grupos de covers de k-pop (pop coreano) en Lima (Perú) tienen como objetivo emular a artistas coreanos (idols), tanto a nivel estético como artístico, mediante estrictas fórmulas y estructuras. Un tipo de cover es el tomboy, agrupación compuesta exclusivamente por mujeres jóvenes que interpretan a artistas masculinos, desde el corte de cabello hasta la forma de moverse en el escenario. En el afán de realizar la performance más exacta posible, las integrantes de los grupos de cover tomboy desarrollan una visualidad corporal y actitudinal que rompe una serie de reglas sociales, especialmente de género y sobre todo cuando va más allá de los escenarios y los territorios de la tribu urbana de los k-popers, es decir, cuando la performance se extrapola a la cotidianidad. La confrontación no parece ser el objetivo primordial de estas jóvenes, pero, deliberadamente o no, esta performance representa una manera de construir una identidad de género disímil al constructo social y las convenciones de la sociedad limeña.
... Messerlin e Shin (2013) também apontam que, em 2013, a onda do K-Pop era definitivamente diferente, pois, naquele momento, já se contabilizava mais de quinze anos que mais de uma dúzia de grupos mantinham canções com 1 É um termo utilizado para descrever a expansão mundial da popularidade de celebridades e cultura popular sul coreanas. Também chamada Hallyu Wave (em inglês)/Onda Coreana (em português) (LEE, 2019). 2 Cunhado no fim dos anos 1980 pelo cientista político estadunidense Joseph Nye, o termo softpower (poder brando/suave) se refere à habilidade de um país exercer influência sobre outros através de seus produtos culturais e mecanismos políticos (NYE, 1990 Oh (2015) ou femininas, que são um tipo aegyo ("fofas"), como nos traz Han (2016). Mas, há, ainda, uma expressão que indica um escape desse binarismo 4 Como são chamados os usuários do aplicativo Tik Tok. 5 Uma das formas de se referir a fãs de K-Pop. ...
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Resumo: Este artigo apresenta a pesquisa de doutorado que se debruça sobre a Dança do artista sul coreano do K-Pop, Taemin, que propõe uma dança destituída de binariedade de gênero (feminino/masculino) em seus movimentos. Como a pesquisa se encontra em fase inicial, o que se compartilha aqui são possibilidades de caminhos teóricos e metodológicos. O referencial teórico conta, nesse momento com Judith Butler (2003, 2018), para discutirmos questões de gênero, Bittencourt (2018), com Imagem, Corpo e Dança; Jussara Setenta (2008), sobre o fazer dizer do corpo; Helena Katz e Christine Greiner (2011), com Teoria Corpomídia; Rudolf Laban (1978), com fatores do movimento, entre outros. Como percurso metodológico, pretende-se dialogar com K-Poppers do Brasil e profissionais da Dança para compreender as percepções sobre o corpo dançante de Taemin. Espera-se, ao final, que as discussões sobre gênero, biopolítica, corpo e dança, tragam contribuições para o campo da Dança. Palavras-chave: TAEMIN. DANÇA K-POP. FLUIDEZ DE GÊNERO NA DANÇA. TEORIA CORPOMÍDIA. FATORES DO MOVIMENTO. Abstract: This paper presents an ongoing doctoral research, whose focuses is on Dance of the South Korean K-Pop artist, Taemin, who proposes a dance devoid of binary gender (female/male) in its movements. As the research is in its initial phase, what is shared here are possibilities of theoretical and methodological paths. The theoretical framework currently relies on Judith Butler (2003; 2018), to discuss gender issues; Bittencourt (2018), with image, body and dance; Jussara Setenta (2008), about “doing-saying” of the body; Helena Katz and Christine Greiner (2011), with Corpomídia Theory; Rudolf Laban (1978), with movement factors; Thomas Lemke (2018), with biopolitics; Elfving-Hwang (2011), with masculinities, among others. As a methodological course, we intend to dialogue with K-Poppers from Brazil and dance professionals to understand the perceptions about Taemin's dancing body. It is expected, in the end, that the discussions about gender, biopolitics, body and dance, bring contributions to the field of Dance. Keywords: TAEMIN. K-POP DANCE. GENRE. BIOPOLITICS AND DANCE. CORPOMEDIA THEORY. MOVEMENT FACTORS. 초록: 이 논문은 이분법적 성별(여성/남성)이 없는 춤을 동작에 제안하는 핚국의 K-Pop 아티스트 태민의 춤을 중심으로 짂행 중인 박사 학위 연구를 제시핚다. 연구가 초기 단계에 있기 때문에 여기에서 공유되는 것은 이롞적 및 방법롞적 경로의 가능성입니다. 이롞적 틀은 현재 Judith Butler (2003; 2018) 에 의존하여 젠더 문제를 논의합니다. Bittencourt (2018), 이미지, 싞체 및 춤; Jussara Setenta (2008), 싞체의725 "해야 핛 일"에 대해; Helena Katz 및 Christine Greiner (2011), Corpomídia Theory 사용; Rudolf Laban (1978), 움직임 요소 포함; Thomas Lemke (2018), 생명정치학; Elfving-Hwang (2011), 남성다움 등. 방법롞적 과정으로 브라질의 K-Poppers 및 댄스 전문가들과 대화하여 태민의 춤추는 몸에 대핚 인식을 이해하려고 합니다. 결국 젠더, 생명정치, 싞체와 무용에 대핚 논의가 무용 분야에 기여하기를 기대핚다. 키워드: 태민. 케이팝 댄스. 장르, 생명정치, 무용. 코포미디어 이롞. 운동 요인.
... Soft masculinity has the potential to transgress social norms of gender and sexuality but as Oh and Oh (2017) have noted, K-pop male idols' crossdressing and androgynous presentation neither index homosexuality nor a lack of masculinity. Yet, other scholars have argued that consumers nevertheless "queer" such crossdressing and androgynous performances through online "fanfic" (fanproduced fiction) and "vidding" -the act of fans making compilation videos on YouTube -where male idols are often depicted as dancing, behaving sensually, or being romantically involved with each other (Oh 2015;Kwon 2019). Soft masculinity also takes on a queer turn when embodied by "tomboy" characters like Eun-Chan in the Korean drama First Shop of Coffee Prince (2007) and androgynous K-pop idols like Amber Liu, a member of the disbanded girl group f(x) (Lavin 2015;Laurie 2016). ...
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This chapter explores how thinking gender and sexuality transnationally can help us make sense of “queer” media, practices and performances proliferating across East Asia and Southeast Asia through two prominent examples – South Korean popular music (K-pop) and “boys love” (BL) media. Thinking gender and sexuality transnationally is useful for making sense of the overlapping processes of queer K-pop and BL media fandom, consumption and (re)production, whether this means fans identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or cis-heterosexual. After situating K-pop within the spread and global phenomenon of the Korean Wave and its androgynous elements, the chapter provides an overview of queer K-pop consumption and performance in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. Beyond Japan, transnational BL fan cultures are situated in specific cultural, historical and geographical contexts and need to be interpreted differently from Japanese BL fandom.
Thesis
Die vorliegende Untersuchung entwickelt sich aus der grundlegenden Fragestellung, ob mediale Artikulation, die sich als bewusste Explikation individueller implizit-qualitativer Erfahrungen in symbolischen Medien auszeichnet, nicht nur aus der anthropologischen bzw. bildungstheoretischen Perspektive, sondern auch aus einer machttheoretischen Perspektive interpretiert werden kann. Um diese Fragestellung zu diskutieren, werden zentrale Begriffe wie neoliberale Gouvernementalität, Selbsttechnologien aus den Spätwerken Foucaults und Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie, mediale neoliberal-gouvernementale Selbsttechnologien aus den Arbeiten von G. Franck, H. Bublitz und A. Reckwitz thematisiert. Aus dieser theoretischen Arbeit wird die zentrale These der vorliegenden Untersuchung formuliert, dass mediale Artikulation als Form der medialen neoliberal-gouvernementalen Selbsttechnologie verstanden wird. Für die empirische Überprüfung dieser formulierten zentralen These wird ein konkretes Forschungsthema ausgewählt, in diesem Fall die sogenannte „Aegyo-Inszenierung“, die man als bewusste Inszenierung des Selbst als eine niedliche bzw. kindliche Person versteht. Daraufhin werden 198 Profilbilder auf Facebook mit dem Aegyo-Repertoire von Pädagogik-Studierenden an einer südkoreanischen Universität nach dem Geschlecht des Abgebildeten klassifiziert und miteinander verglichen. Für die Geltungsüberprüfung werden sie zusätzlich mit den öffentlichen Pressefotografien weiblicher, südkoreanischer Prominenter verglichen. Durch diese empirische Untersuchung mit der Bildanalyse bzw. dem -vergleich kann resultiert werden, dass mediale Artikulation am Beispiel von Profilbildern auf Facebook als Form der medialen neoliberal-gouvernementalen Selbsttechnologie verstanden werden kann, damit jede der Abgebildeten mithilfe der Aegyo-Inszenierung soziale Aufmerksamkeit von anderen Personen im medialen Raum erregt. Dabei fungiert der Körper des jeweiligen Abgebildeten für die Aegyo-Inszenierung als Humankapital, um soziale Aufmerksamkeit zu erlangen. Zusätzlich kann aus dieser empirischen Untersuchung noch eine weitere These der vorliegenden Untersuchung formuliert werden, dass das Aegyo-Phänomen in Südkorea als ein Beispiel der ökonomisierten Transformation der tradierten idealen Weiblichkeit verstanden wird. Im Prozess der Modernisierung der südkoreanischen Gesellschaft fungieren Schwäche, Passivität, Gehorsamkeit, Niedlichkeit usw., welche jeweils als ideale Weiblichkeit in der traditionellen konfuzianischen Gesellschaft galten, immer weniger als Geschlechternorm, sondern vielmehr als Mittel für die Herstellung sozialer Aufmerksamkeit. In diesem Kontext inszenieren die weiblichen Abgebildeten sich selbst aus eigenem Antrieb als ideale Frau – nicht für die Erfüllung der tradierten Geschlechternorm, sondern um soziale Aufmerksamkeit zu erzeugen.
Article
K-pop cover groups in Lima aim to emulate Korean artists, both aesthetically and artistically, through strict formulas and structures. One type of cover is the tomboy, a group composed exclusively of young women who play male artists, from the haircut to the way they move on stage. In an effort to carry out the most exact performance possible, the members of tomboy cover groups develop a corporal and attitudinal visuality that breaks social rules, especially gender ones, and above all when it goes beyond the stages and territories of the urban tribe of k-popers, that is, when extrapolated to everyday life. Confrontation does not seem to be the primary objective of these young women, but, deliberately or not, this performance represents a way of building a gender identity dissimilar to the social construct.
Article
Using content analysis of a Korean pop (K-pop) idol’s performances on a range of media platforms, this article critically examines how and when hybrid masculinities are enacted to achieve what Kathryne Young calls “masculine balance.” K-pop stars appear on a variety of platforms—television appearances, photoshoots, music videos, and on-stage performances—where they perform hybrid masculinities by incorporating feminine, androgynous, queer, and/or masculine aesthetics or expressions. Through the strategic deployment of genders on different platforms, they construct masculine balance as an ideal gender performance that embodies both femininity or transgressiveness and hegemonic or hyper-masculinities. Taking G-Dragon’s performance as a case study, this article extends our understanding on hybrid masculinity and masculine balance by describing specific contexts where men deploy feminine, androgynous, and transgressive gender aesthetics and practices and by identifying strategic ways with which men reach masculine balance and reinforce gender inequality.
Thesis
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This doctoral thesis explores Vietnamese audience reception of soft masculinities, defined by the aestheticisation and romantic idealisation of male characters, in South Korean television dramas (K-dramas). Based on interview data collected in 2019, the thesis focuses on patterns of gendered desire, identification, and negotiation in viewers in their 20s and 30s. It highlights the popularity of K-dramas in Vietnam, which have established an enduring presence there since the late 1990s, overlapping with ongoing changes in gender relations following the introduction of the 1986 Đổi Mới (reform) policy, marked by Vietnam’s transition to a market economy and gradual integration into global trade. The thesis demonstrates how the spread of this “Korean Wave” is correlated with a changing local mediascape, the rise of a consumer culture, and a growing interest in exploring the self. Prominent themes of viewing experiences in relation to soft masculinities analysed in this thesis include escapism, parasocial interactions with characters, romantic imaginations, melancholic identification with romantic relationships on screen, desires for upward mobility, queer pleasures, ambivalence, and disidentification. The thesis thus contributes to contemporary Vietnamese studies, gender studies, psychosocial studies, media audience studies, and research on the Korean Wave.
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In diesem Artikel wird die K-Pop als eine Szene untersucht, die Jugendlichen und juvenilen Menschen die Möglichkeit bietet, sich zu vergemeinschaften. Cross-Dressing ist dabei ein Phänomen in der K-Pop Szene, das von den Mitgliedern der Bands betrieben wird. Dieses Phänomen erscheint höchst ungewöhnlich, da Bands nach weiblichem und männlichem Geschlecht separiert sind. Der Artikel untersucht, wie Szenegängerinnen und Szenegänger Cross-Dressing beschreiben, sinnlich wahrnehmen und diskutiert, wie Cross-Dressing bewertet wird.
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