Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Professor Aseel Sawalha
Caley Johnson, Ph.D.
In this paper, I will discuss how Korean Pop (K-Pop) music gained such extensive popularity and prevalence in society in the past 5-10 years. Investigating the audiences in South Korea and the United States, I will examine what caused the rise in popularity and the steady increase in the audience of K-Pop music. Additionally, I will be looking into the demographics of these audiences. In looking at the target audience in both countries, I will be able to answer who the primary audience of K-Pop listeners is. Korean pop culture and music are still relatively new to the Western world. As such, it becomes challenging to define why the average American has not heard about Korean pop culture before now. As K-Pop has been an established genre since at least the 1990s, this could be explained because of the lack of social media and technology. While Korean Americans might have been exposed to Korean culture and Korean Pop music earlier than a non-Korean American, I aim to question what changed in the past few decades that allowed Korean culture to soar to new heights and popularity, opening a new age for both Koreans and Americans to enjoy Korean culture and music. Additionally, this thesis aims to define the differences between genders in K-Pop. In using BTS and BLACKPINK, prolific and famous boy groups and girl groups in K-Pop, as case studies, I questioned why gender has an effect on the levels of success and popularity of K-Pop idols. I argue that gender roles depend on where you’re at, with the United States and South Korea having very different ideals for what constitutes success in the music industry. While Western ideals and standards place more emphasis on traditional gender roles, Asian communities place far more emphasis on traditional Asian beauty standards. This is further seen in the way Korean audiences support K-Pop idols versus American audiences. When idols go through rough times and receive a lot of hatred, the support they do receive greatly differs based on the K-Pop idols gender. I argue that male K-Pop idols tend to receive more support than women K-Pop idols. This, in my opinion, creates an industry that is primarily more male friendly and encourages the success of men over women.
Primer, Payton, "How Gender Shapes Music: A Comparison Within K-Pop" (2023). Senior Theses. 112.