Othering ourselves: Identity and globalization in Korean popular music, 1992--2002

Publication Type:



Lee, Hee-Eun


The University of Iowa, p.197 (2005)


Hallyu; South Korea; Pop culture; Music; Video; Localization


This dissertation focuses on the time period between 1992 and 2002, when Korean popular music had experienced great tensions among globalization, localization, nationalism, and political and economic deregulation. More specifically, this dissertation deals with how global and national representations in select music videos interact to articulate conceptions of national identity. By analyzing four discursive dimensions of the music videos in Korea, I make an argument that the transformation of identity is neither a simple result of globalization nor an emancipatory resistance against it. Chapter one introduces my research questions on the relationships between music and television, and between globalization and nationalism. Chapter two draws a theoretical map of the literature on globalization, popular music and identity. Based on the literature review, chapter three commences the contextual analysis of the Korean music industry. A brief history of the Korean media industry and a discussion on the contingencies in shaping the music industry are followed to set to the concept of cultural space of music video. In chapter four, I apply a diagram of four narratives that were prevalent in Korean music videos, which represent the complexity of the relationship between globalization and nationalism. Chapter five explores exactly how the identity formation is inserted in the dynamic relationships between the past and the future, and between others and ourselves. I argue that Korean music videos do not merely signify the transition from listening to music to watching music: they embody a mediation between the global and the local. In the conclusion chapter, I attempt to put this dissertation in a wider scope of media research and studies of popular culture, with a specific consideration of the East Asian regionalism. A recent example of Hallyu, or Korean Wave, in the region, calls for a greater attention to the transnational and intra-regional flows of cultural products and people.