Questions/Comments?Contact Us

72 posts categorized "K-Pop CIEE 17"

Reflective Essay- Alice

I walked into K-Pop class thinking I knew a decent amount about k-pop, as I was someone who was fairly devoted to k-pop. I knew that there were many more fangirls/boys who were much more invested in the music, so I was ready to expect that there were a few of those students, but to say I underestimated the history of k-pop was an understatement. The amount of influence and history behind behind what we know as k-pop was stunning, almost overwhelming.


I think that from this class, I grew as a person as I learned about another country’s history. Because we can not learn about k-pop without understanding the history of Korea, it only made sense that we walked out of the class knowing more about Korea than we would have ever imagined. I honestly believe that America has much to learn from Korea, that the reason why Korea was able to grow and develop in such a short a short period of time. I think a large part of why Korea was able to modernize so quickly was because of the thought process of people who reside in the country. Unlike Americans, Koreans put their country before themselves. For example, when Korea was about to fall into a financial crisis, the citizens went and donated their gold to the city to prevent their country from falling into depression. It is this selflessness that I wish to take back to America with me. On the contrary, when American stock markets crashed in 1929, people were more concerned about themselves and tried to get money to save themselves instead of their country. They didn’t consider their nation at all and it’s a great contrast to what happened in Korea. I want to take this selflessness and ingrain it into my lifestyle because I truly believe that by putting others first, you’ll benefit in the end because everything comes in a full circle.


Phoebe Bain

Kpop in Context

Dr. Saeji

27, July 2017


The moral dilemma of K-Pop

As the Kpop industry has developed into a more complex, international, and successful industry, there have been many changes in the business and production of kpop. The driving force behind these changes is for the benefit of the industry, but such decisions often tread a blurry line of ethics. This leads to a growing phenomenon in the industry-- that it is impossible to prioritize both success and virtuous processes. One must chose to sacrifice moral integrity to become successful, or sacrifice success to maintain moral integrity. It is in this conflict of priorities that we see a central dilemma in Kpop: the choice of prioritizing profit over ethics, or vice versa.

       The widespread popularity of kpop has lead it to become an entity for nation branding and national representation. The government has heavily invested in the Kpop industry with the intent of using kpop to serve its economic and cultural goals. This investment gives rise to an obvious dilemma-- whether to use kpop as a  promoting vessel for traditional korean culture, or to promote what sells the best. This begs the question, is the primary job of a government to protect the culture of its people, or to benefit the economy of its people? The concept of protecting a moral success rather than a material one is drastically polarizing, and has yet to revise a definite positive or negative reception.   

          Sponsorship, as well, creates an ethical dilemma. Choosing money over the bodily integrity and dignity of trainees violates even the most basic moral standards, yet the incentive of profit seems to trump those contraventions. An additional conflict exists beneath the ethics vs profit quandary; who gets to decide whether sponsorship, or any unethical practice, is acceptable? The reality that the top people of the industry are making these decisions, and not the people who must carry them out, speaks to how deeply this issue of skewed morals runs within the industry. However, sponsorship is not present in all companies, and is most commonly implemented only when it provides a much needed profit. This speaks to the moral struggle of condoning such an awful practice, and disregarding the benefit it promises.

This precarious relationship of ethics and profit is also deeply ingrained in fan culture, the very basis of the kpop industry. The concept of Jogung favors materialistic and shallow expressions of love to create a monetary profit. It blatantly favors wealthy fans, and creates a cruel hierarchy within fandoms. There is a movement to replace Jogung with more selfless acts, in an effort to reshape stereotypes surrounding fan culture. But the fact that such an immoral culture is so widely accepted coupled with how the masses are desensitised to their exploitation demonstrates how accepted this phenomenon of prioritizing profit has become.

       The struggle to expedite success at the price of ethics is a core aspect of the growth of the kpop industry. Very often, profit is prioritized and the ethics of the process are marginalized; the ends justify the means. However, profit does not always surmount ethics, indeed if it did, then there would not be a dilemma with expediting both of them them. It remains to be seen how this conflict will develop and change, and we may only hope for the best.



Reflective Essay -Salla

Coming to this program for 3 weeks was a new experience. Throughout the program, I learned many things about KPOP. I learned that kpop is not all about handsome looking guys and pretty girls. 

One of the most interesting topics we talked about was people doing kpop cover dances. I always thought that people did cover dances because they enjoyed dancing. Posting cover dances on YouTube allows people to be creative and add their own twists to the dance. Posting cover dances on YouTube also allows a community to form. The fans have a chance to gather and enjoy kpop dances together. However, I discovered that there was another side. Some people cover kpop dances and make money off of it. Those people are parasitic to the idols and are milking the idols’ hard work for some extra money. Those people don't have to work as hard as the idols since they only memorize a dance, probably from a dance practice video. 

This side of kpop cover dance has added a new perspective on cover dance. Through this perspective, I hope to grow and understand more perspectives of kpop cover dance.


Reflexive Essay - Carol Chin

Looking back to the start of this program my knowledge of Kpop was based solely on the clear fact that I enjoyed listening to it to such an extent that I knew each member's name, watched their live streams, and bought all the albums of my favorite group. Kpop was my icebreaker in high school but for a long time it remained only as a form of entertainment and a stress reliever. Never could I have imagined it to have grown to hold such an importance nor would I have ever believed that I would learn to comprehend it to such a high degree.

What interested me the most about the class was that it went far beyond what I expected and even threw me some curveballs. Despite previous hypothesis of fervent debate and discussion of our favorite groups, the class itself turned out to be something completely different. We instead learned the origins of Korean pop culture and furthermore what allowed it to develop to such an international sensation. We also focused on aspects of Kpop that are widely ignored despite being highly debated topics elsewhere.

Another discussion that threw me for a loop appeared to be the persisting question of how we can define Kpop which we attempted to do on our last day of class. Kpop is a form of music that is neither a complete copy of Western music nor is it a form of traditional Korean music. Kpop is a music genre that takes the aspects and influences of foreign nations in order to create a work that is uniquely theirs. This description can be defined through the words of Paul Thompson, head of Marz Music Group who explained the way in which Kpop builds and explodes constantly while at the same time showing off the abilities of each individual performer.

Reflexive Essay: K-pop Adjacent Industries

ArNay Crew

Dr. T.Saeji

28 July 2017

K-pop adjacent industries

     When people hear the word K-pop they probably automatically start thinking about the idols, colorful music videos, and the dynamic dances that they do. What doesn’t come to mind however, is how other industries benefit from K-pop and how they are connected. 

     The first two K-pop adjacent industries are the fashion and beauty industries. Makeup and fashion are very important to idols because their makeup and clothing style dictate their image. These industries are also very influential to an idol's life because they can be sponsors and therefore become another way for idols to make money. Idol fashion and makeup can also be considered very trendy thus making idols trendsetters, which in turn makes them popular icons for certain brands that then become popular off of the idols fame and both the idol and the adjacent industry benefit from one another. 

     Another key industry in the k-pop world is the dance industry. Without the intricate and explosive dances in k-pop, k-pop wouldn't be nearly as popular as it is. The dances in k-pop help fans feel like they can be a part of their idols life because they can also learn the choreography they do and even add their own twist if the feel like it. When fans do cover dances they are helping idols gain popularity and they also help the choreographer gain some attention as well which opens up opportunities for them with more k-pop companies. So the dance industry and the choreographers get benefits from being in the kpop industry because they gain popularity from almost every dance they produce. 

      The last industry that benefits from the k-pop industry is of course the film industry. Since idols are so popular getting to film them is a great opportunity, because it helps the camera crews gain film experience which helps them get more jobs. When music videos come out fans focus on how they are presented and if the video isn't the best filmers will get backlash along with the idols, but if a video is produced well, the idols, company, and anyone apart of the song and video are praised highly for their work. 

     When a k-pop video is made and the idols are strutting around in flashy outfits and there are crazy special effects within the video it's always good to remember that there are other industries involved in the process and not just the idols and their companies.



Reflexive Essay: K-pop industries

Kenny Mai

Dr. Saeji

July 28, 2017

Reflexive Essay

       Before I came to Korea and took the class, the word K-pop for me means nothing more than just Korean music, but since day one of class I realized K-pop was such a complicated topic to teach because the emergence and the development of K-pop are profoundly influenced by the Korean culture, Korean government. Korea managed went from a country that broken into pieces to one of the world's economic power in forty years, K-pop has played a major role in helping Korea to change from a receiver to a donor. Furthermore, K-pop industries make a tremendous amount of money that benefits Korean economic as the impact of Hallyu (Korean wave) spread wider into the rest of the world.

K-pop industries are essentially entertainment companies that made money out of Korean idols. K-pop is representing Korea to the outside world. Thus, Koreans saw K-pop idols as the pride of the nation and have unrealistic standards that create constant pressures toward these K-pop idols that push them to improve, to have something new to the fans or else it would be replaced with the new idols. The K-pop industries using K-pop idols as a tool, as a bridge that links the producers and consumers, these companies are constantly releasing new boy or girl groups to refresh the audience, to keep the audience paying attention to K-pop so the company could make the profit out of them. Korean idol itself doesn't make lots of money, although they dressed up fancy, they make their money mostly from advertisement rather than from the actual from singing and dancing. The K-pop industries are the one who makes an enormous amount of profit generated by these idols. The older generations of Korean idols have to keep working to maintain their fans and their status, but eventually will be replaced by younger idols with more refreshing looks. Thus, it's not hard to imagine that how much pressure has been added to these idols.

What I have learned in the K-pop class have completely changed my thought toward Korean idols, I use to think that Korean idols make lots of money based on their fancy clothes and expensive accessories. But now I view K-pop idols as more like tools that controlled by the K-pop entertainment companies to make money for them, they could also easily be replaced, and that's the reality of K-pop that I learned from Dr. Saeji.


-Global navigator (Kenny Mai)

Reflexive Essay- Christina

    When an outsider thinks about K-pop, Gangnam Style is usually the first thing that comes to mind. A quirky, flamboyant, and overall strange song. These are the characteristics they use to classify all the music categorized as “K-Pop”. What they fail to understand is the deep rooted history and the actual variety inside the music. K-pop is increasingly becoming globally spread and exposed to new audiences from all over. It is important for new listeners to understand the roots of K-pop. As this trip comes to a close, I realized how much more complex and intricate K-pop music and industry is.

    Prior to this program I had little to no background knowledge on Korea’s history. K-pop today is integrating more tradition into lyrics, instruments, and more. Korea’s nationalism makes it crucial for fans today to learn more about Korea’s history as a country to have a deeper understanding of how popular music developed into what it is today. Korea under Japanese rule seems to be the most important turning point in changing Korea’s culture. Especially censorship which dictated what exactly was acceptable for Korean consumption. Korea’s strong sense of nationalism not only enabled their country to rebound from the devastating Korean war but also enables them to take certain aspects of western music and integrate it into their own culture and transform it into their own.

Reflexive Essay

Reflexive Essay

Reflexive essay

     Before I came to Korea I thought I already knew a fairly large amount in not only kpop but Korean history as well. But just on the first day of this program I was proven very wrong. 

     When I was in America I thought I knew a large amount about kpop. This is because I liked kpop and I also knew a large number of older kpop and trot songs. Also through kdramas I thought I knew a large amount of Korean history. However when I took this course I found a lot of hidden and more specific things I have missed completely.  There were even very huge events that went on in Korea that I was totally oblivious about. Because of Dr. Saeji's class I have learned to truly analyze music videos and how nothing in a music video is an accident. I have found that everything is connected.  Whether it be from one song to another of the artist or the song to culture. There is always something under what everyone sees. 

    Besides having a greater appreciation for kpop music videos, I have also gained a larger appreciation for the music itself. When the guest lecturer Paul Tompson came to speak to us I found out how hard it is for one song to be made.  The long process of making the demo, and sending it to the entertainments not know if it will even be chosen. Along with that, even if the song was bought by the entertainment the song may not even be used. Another guest lecturer we had was a singer, songwriter named saltnpaper. He allowed me to truly realize that artists do not make much money at all. I have always thought that people were lying and it was actually a large amount of money. However he showed me the fact that there is only a few number of people that do and everyone else does not. The people that get more money are the people that compose and sing their own songs.  However most kpop stars do not do that.  

     Now that I have learned so much about Korean history and kpop history I truly feel a deeper understanding in not only kpop but music in general. I really have no regrets on coming on to this program ( besides all the walking ). 

Kacey Dargout

CIEE Kpop Immersion Study Abroad Trip



         Throughout this study abroad program, I have been able to learn so much about Korea and its various aspects in such a short period of time. Within all the knowledge I gained, I was able to extend my source of information on the events within the kpop world and understand the various relationships between the idols and their other relationships with others.


         During the extent of my education within Korea, I was able to refer back to the history of the emergence of Korean pop culture, known today as Hallyu as well as the many ties that are present within it’s system. Since the emergence of kpop, idols have become a sort of nexus between the producers and consumers around the world, especially Korea, that work to facilitate the circulation of media discourse. To start, many commercials and advertisements regarding Korean products can most likely be expected to have kpop idols within them because of their strong influence on modern Korean pop culture. Many idols can also be seen starring in films and dramas, even if their acting skills are not at as sharp as professional actors. In the representation of such idols within other media platforms, it helps to both boost kpop and idols’ popularity through exposure to audiences that are not familiar with them within such platforms as well as help with the advertising of such products and film and drama productions. This helps to establish a symbiotic relationship with the various links within media in Korea. Not only does kpop have relations with other media sources, but also with their vast fan base.


         The kpop industry carries a vast fanbase and the relationship and influence that idols have on their fans is extensive. Kpop industries organize many fan engagement activities for fans to feel closer to their favorite idols. This is a major factor that contributes to the accumulation of fans because their favorite stars seem as if they are vastly more easily accessible than American celebrities. Another example of the symbiotic relationship between idols and their fans can be expressed through the vast amount of cover dances that are shared on social media sites and span the world. Through cover dances, fans can both show their love for their favorite songs and groups as well and spread awareness of the kpop industry through the many viewers as well as interpret songs with their own creativity. This could also later become a parasitic relationship if such fans were to use the same choreography that groups perform and make their own money off of others’ work. The ties between idols and their fanbase are strong bonds that cannot continue without the other.

         Throughout this program, I have been able to learn so much more about the kpop industry and its functions than I would have been able to on my own. I believe that through this experience I was able to gain strong source knowledge that I can now bring back with me to America and share with others that are unfamiliar with this elaborate industry in hopes to raise awareness about this wonderful aspect of Korean culture.