Anthropology Paper on K-pop music

Anthropology Paper on K-pop music

K-pop music originated from South Korea. This rise in the popularity of K-pop came as a result of new crop of musicians who brought about change in the musical world in Korea. One of the K-pop groups is Sechs Kies. It was commissioned by a group of boys under the Daesung entertainment and they included Eun Jiwon, Kim Jaeduck, Jang Suwon, Kang Sunghun, Lee Jaijin and Ko Ji-yong. This group has been on and off the stage. In the year 2006, the group was disbanded and reunited in 2006. They recorded singles that made them populous amongst the community as well as abroad. They sold a lot of copies an action that improved their financial status as well as music trend.  At the same time, these songs would earn them the awards they attained for various categories. K-pop being a new genre of music in Korea, the pop music comprised on a number of styles such as pop ballad, hip-hop, dance-pop and electro pop. Thus, a combination of various audiovisual elements of music was involved in this genre of music. This essay deals with k-pop genre of music as practiced in South Korea and surrounding countries.

A number of groups popped up with increased popularity of k-pop music. Some of the groups include Sechs Kies and Baby V.O.X. the first group is made up of six members who are the all male. By the 1998, the group had already risen to higher heights with the finishing of the second album. At the beginning of the career, the members were eager to make the group succeed in the new market that has not been ventured widely by artists. Thus, they contributed to the development and growth of the group despite facing various challenges. The second group is made up of five members all female and recorded their music with DR music (Sook 34). The group was famous as the k-pop hallyu wave. The members involved Kim E-Z, Jung Shi Woon, Lee Hee Jin Jang Hyun Jung and Cha Yu-Mi. The full name of this music group was baby voices of xpression. Baby V.O.X won several awards similar to Sechs Kies both locally and internationally. The reason behind this is that their music was inclusive of local culture plus foreign cultures which made it populous amongst population living in china and Korea.  In the year 2004, an album known as ride west was released and failed to meet the intended purpose after it performed so poorly. This led to the separation of members and coming to the year 2006, the group was disbanded for its wide imitation of music from artists such as Tupac Shakur and Jennifer Lopez (Sook 34). In addition, these groups borrowed their arts from American artists who influenced the kind of music they engaged in. Thereafter, they introduced this music to their countries and led to the adoption of a new genre that incorporated traditional elements as well as borrowed elements. This made it possible for the music to spread within a short period of time because the audience would associate with the genre. At the same time, the wide coverage and audience reinforced efforts by media to popularize this music.

In comparing the work of Sechs Kies and Big Mama in YG Entertainment, these performers utilize both vocal and physical elements in their work. The first thing to discuss is about the commencement and forming of JG entertainment. It came about as a result of initiative by Yang Hyun-Suk who decided to establish the business by focusing on music production, concert production, talent agency and record label. Some of the works of Sechs Kies by this particular producer includes Heartbreak, Couple and Chivalry (Sook 34). These songs were produced and they made tremendous changes to the group performances. Big Mama on the other hand released several albums by the help of YG entertainment. In addition, the two groups portray diverging dancing style. The first group which comprises of Sech skies makes use of their fashion and dancing style to attract the crowd.

They were referred to as the rookies a term that described their clubbing mood. They would occasionally dress in tight jeans and fashion T-shirts an action that depicted the kind of music they represented and sung to the public. They were able to utilize the media to their advantage especially during their first album an action that led to their popularity. Therefore, the music was characterized by dances that were coordinated amongst performers. This insinuates that every person within the group would dance to the tune. At the same time, the performers would wear according to the occasion and mostly wore black as their identity color. This would differentiate the group from the crowd. The young audience in Asia has shown a trend in fashion that is influenced by pop musicians. A person such as G-Dragon has dominated the market with fashion designs that the youths admire (Sook 34). Thus, they treat these musicians as idols. The artists therefore influence this market through attire and behavioral outlook. It differs from Big Mama which is on the same category and produced their music using the same recording firm through focus on fashion. The duo in this group did not put more efforts on the fashion rather decided to focus on their career. This made them so famous because their body size made them to acquire the name big mama. By overcoming their body image, the duo managed to control the youth and female audience in the market. Thus, the end result would be increased social and cultural influence amongst the fans that follows the steps of these artists. However, the duo practiced some moves that they would use during performances.


            The lyrics and the beat of K-pop music is widely borrowed from the western culture and blended with hip-hop and local musical elements. This is in an attempt to make the music local and own it due to its local content. Some of the lyrics that are categorized in this group include Gangnam style by Psy in the year 2012. The video has an approximate of 2,702 million YouTube viewers. This means that the song was watched across the board and in the international platform via YouTube. One of the songs that led to the downfall of the Sech Skies was ride west which depicted an imitation of western music was. Thus, it lacked the local touch hence regarded to as foreign music. It was so severe that the market reacted by rejecting the music. The ride west is one of the songs has some beats from the Tupac who was a renown hip-hop artists in the United States. Thus, he did a lot of work in popularizing hip hop as well as creating awareness of the new genre of music to the American people. He can therefore be termed as a pioneer of the hip-hop culture. This culture is determined by the specific attributes that artists in this sector demonstrated to the population (Sook 34). Due to the input that was injected into the making of this music by the producers as well as the artists, the rejection forced them out of the market. They stayed for a period of six years without any album being done for the market hence became unpopular in Korea and sourcing nations. Later on, they came together and bonded to create a big team that was determined to rebuild the broken pieces.


            Dancing is another thing that is common in music and pop music takes a diverse approach in regards to body movement during performances. However, each and every group comes up with its diverse movement that distinguishes them from the other artists. This makes sure that they create a brand for their music as well as entertain the fans. In most cases, some moves are associated with certain artists and this helps to market the songs and the album that these artists may have on the shelf. For pop song, the movement of the body is at a fast pace and this makes the song vigorous in dancing. The electrifying mood created by the performers ensures that the crowd attains the pleasure they are looking for (Sook 34). An example of these lyrics and dancing that characterizes an artist includes dancing by Sech skies that is observed in all their songs.


            The clad that musician wear are also reflective of the genre of music they are supposed or intend to present to the population. For example, when an artist’s or a person wear tight jeans and loose t-shirt, he/ she suggest that he is going to engage in vigorous body movement. The tight jeans make the person comfortable while the loose t-shirt allows the body to breathe through the poles. This ensures that air circulate in the body during and after the exercise such as dancing. In an attempt to keep the audience jovial, the dancers or performers must find a way to motivate them to dance. Thus, dancing comes hand in hand with fashion design (Sook 34). This means that the attire must align to the occasion and the type of songs that the artists deal with.


            The last thing to discuss in this case is about socialization and cultural connection amongst listeners and fans of k-pop. Recently, K-pop has traversed borders in the sense that it appeals to Asian listeners as well as the pop music lovers. Networking deals with the delivery of music and marketing of various albums by artists. This has been facilitated by the technology that is not only efficient but also reinforces individual’s efforts in promoting music. Another networking platform includes social events that happen one in a while. They present chances for the artists to portray their talents as well as offer what they have to the public (Lie 47). The coming together of JG entertainment and Sechs Kies as well as other musicians would result to increase social networking for artists especially during their early days in the career. This is what that happened when Sechs Kies were coming into the industry and they needed support from experienced players. This is the reason as to why the group signed a contract with the producers who would help market and sell the music to the existing market as well as create new market of this particular genre.

K-Pop Culture

The Pop-culture was created through interchange of various genres such as hip-hop, local Korea music and religious music in Korea. Thus, the rising of the culture came as a result of the blend between various background and importation of foreign culture. Pop music originally came from United States and spread to other parts of the world. This happened when communities came into contact with the American culture during and after the First World War. Moreover, the Americans came to learn new ways of doing things from the Korean who were participant in this war. Globalization has moved things further through technology where individuals learn and interact with others through internet. This can be explained through the use of theories as outlined below.

The first theory denotes symbolic interaction theory. The identity of any music depends on the symbolic meaning it brings to the public or the value the public holds towards it. This infers that the social composition of the entity is dependent on symbolic interaction between the concept and community. The original ideas about social interactions came from a person known as Max Weber who felt that people give meaning or attach value to something or events. Thus, K-pop was accepted by the Korean public due to the value attached to such items (Kim 67).

            Activity Theory on the other hand can explain the way people accept or view culture especially foreign culture. This theory concentrates on human behaviors and activities as seen through events or some form of actions. It was started and developed by a Russian scholar by the name Leontjev’s. The mind and the behavior of people can only be understood through their interaction with the environment. This is in consideration to the materials environment that they come across. Thus, the idea of multiculturalism comes in at this point where individuals are known according to the things that they do and what they portray to the world. For example, the combination and coordination of various environments leads to an emergence of a new culture that is not only diverse in its behavioral attributes but also inclusive of various elements from different parties. A community is therefore described by the things that it holds or portrays to others. When a community is depicted as being aggressive, then, members acts in an aggressive manner hence leads to the adoption of such perception. Therefore, the new culture which is k-pop came with behavioral change. The dressing mode and fashion amongst listeners of these songs also tend to portrays similar behaviors. Thus, they show elements of blended cultures especially the western culture that was widely borrowed and practiced by performers. Thus, music becomes a culture the moment people becomes followers and worship the artists as their Idols (Hae, 100). This infers that the dressing and behavior is copied from these idols that control the thinking of subjects or fans.

The last theory is distributed cognition that deals with the community behaviors by looking at the cognition, organizational and social perspective. The cognition system makes some assumption towards cognitive properties such as group thinking. It assumes that a person will experience diversity in cognitive properties while on a group rather than when operating alone. The application of this theory is in regards to group thinking rather than individual thinking or recognition of the things that takes place in their surroundings. The first K-pop album to the produced and marketed in Korea went through rejection by members of the community. This is because individuals would not recognize and associate themselves with the kind of songs or genre that artists have invested in. Eventually, they came to love and accept the music as one of the local brands that members of the community practiced. This was accelerated by the increasing population of the young people in the country. They are the main consumers of pop songs and they present a ready market for songs of this nature.

It is at this point that technology comes in to offer its diversity to the distributors and artists.  Globalization has also enhanced the way music and communication is done by people. The world has been reduced into a small village where people transact within seconds and this insinuates that every business can be done regardless of location. AT the same time, the sharing of cultural elements and musical techniques takes place in the same manner. An artist will therefore borrow information and element that will help set up ground for a successful career through interaction with people who fall under the same category. On the contrary, globalization has led to the fall of some genre of music due to overreliance and borrowing of western culture. In most cases, the Western culture is seen as literate and up-to-date (Burkart 67). This overshadows the local cultures such as local music hence lowering their popularity. This hurts the local artist in a great way because they end up spending a lot of money in production of music that is never recovered.

In conclusion, emergence of k-pop music led to the creation or establishment of a culture in the South Korea is today popular amongst citizens. Some of the populous groups such as Sechs Kies have contributed immensely to the growth and development of K-pop market. In addition, the music industry was faced with a lot of challenges and artists would be careful to study the demographic before investing in a certain line of music. This is because the success of music and things that pertains to the development of the entertainment industry requires diverse approaches due to the dynamic nature of the market. There are a times when artists work is appreciated by the community due to the fact that it fails to account for the development in the social and cultural settings. At this point, an artist would be better off going researching the market way before working on a new album. The American culture has greatly influenced the people of Korea especially in the entertainment industry. This is seen through behavior and trends in fashion amongst the youths and people living in this country. This is due to the interaction that takes place between artists from the west and the Korea. At the same time, the education system has also made it possible for people to interact and share their cultural beliefs.


Works Cited

Burkart, Patrick. Music and Cyberliberties. Wesleyan UP, 2010.

Hae. “Decentering citizenship.” Disputing citizenship, vol. 22, no. 3, 2 Feb. 2014, pp. 57-106.

Kim, Yoon-mi. K-pop: A New Force in Pop Music. Korean Culture and Information Service, 2011.

Lie, John. K-pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea. University of California Press, 2015.

Sook, Kyung. I’ll Be Right There: A Novel. University of California Press, 2013.