By Jessica Wang
The sounds of Korean pop music equipped with synchronized dance moves reverberated off the walls of Cal Poly Pomona’s Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center during the K-Pop culture workshop on Wednesday.
Titled “K-Pop: Influences and Impact on Pop Culture,” the workshop addressed the global influence of K-Pop in contemporary pop culture to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
The workshop cited three prevalent themes as the driving forces behind K-Pop’s increasing popularity: language, culture and dance.
Daniel Rogel, a fourth-year graphic design student, serves as social justice leader of the center and led the K-Pop workshop.
Rogel presented a series of K-Pop music videos on YouTube to enhance the workshop, calling attention to the 21 million views on a Girls’ Generation video ” a South Korean all-girl group ” that consisted of countless fan comments primarily in English.
With a majority of K-Pop fans’ inability to speak or understand Korean, Rogel cites much of the global influence as stemming from Korean dramas, dance and of course, food ” lots and lots of food.
Rogel, who also serves as president of the campus K-Pop club, attributed his interest to the cultural phenomenon to PSY, the South Korean singer and rapper best known for his 2012 hit “Gangnam Style,” and whose popularity landed him appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Saturday Night Live.
“PSY pretty much sparked the entire globalization. He sparked curiosity, and I’ve got to admit”I was one of the people to fall in love with the PSY bandwagon and started researching K-Pop.” said Rogel
The rise of Korean culture’s global popularity, referred to as Hallyu, is a stark contrast to one of the more predominant themes that has emerged in media recently, which is the underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood.
The film industry has come under fire recently due to the lack of Asian-American actors in substantial roles, as opposed to those of caricaturized stereotypes such as the nerdy sidekick, the tiger mom that reinforces ideals of strict Asian parents or even the model minority archetype of the straight-A student.
Rogel offered insights on K-Pop’s bittersweet role within the current state of Asian-American representation in media.
“[The media doesn’t] perceive Asians as serious characters, and what happens with K-Pop [and] PSY is, he came out with the ‘Gangnam Style’ music video and that was just pure comedy,” said Rogel. “So it makes you wonder: did they like it because of the music or did they like it because they were just making fun of him?”
Thavery Lay-Bounpraseuth, coordinator of the Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center, shared insights ongwhitewashing in Hollywood ” citing actress Scarlett Johansson’s casting in Masamune Shirow’s “Ghost in the Shell,, a Japanese manga series.
“[Hollywood should provide] opportunity for [Asian-Pacific Islanders] to be positioned in various spaces, like [film] writers, to help combat misconceptions,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth. “When other [Asian-Pacific Islanders] see folks in position, [they] serve as role models for creating more visibility in terms of those already in the industry.”
She also discussed the microaggression of underrepresentation: the issue may not always be openly discussed, but it is ultimately practiced in the film industry; having Asian-Americans in producing, writing and directing roles would allow for more diverse perspectives in the media.
According to Lay-Bounpraseuth, the significance of recognizing Asian-Pacific Islanders should not be confined to the month of May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month ” the significance of diversity should be recognized daily.
“People need to be more open [with] learning about other people’s experiences and being advocates for those not in those spaces,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth.
Riza Dayapera, a second-year aerospace engineering student, sang along to the tunes at the workshop and discussed how she was introduced to the world of K-Pop.
“I was introduced through friends. I also have friends in the Philippines [since] I was born there and lived there for many years, so they’d send me stuff because it’s really big over there,” said Dayapera.
Dayapera also detailed her favorite aspect of the global phenomenon.
“The aesthetic of it. They’re really good at dancing [and] they’re really pretty, [so] you get more interested about the people in it, like the K-Pop idols, and then the actual music in itself,” said Dayapera. “I think it’s so popular because of the aesthetics of it.”
Jessica Wang / The Poly Post
K-Pop culture workshop
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