The goal of the essay is to display a critical analysis of Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan by John Lie and K-pop by John Lie. The authors’ claims were evaluated and compared with each other to see the differences. The questions, which rose after reading, were formulated. Furthermore, confusing and interesting passages were discovered. All stages contribute to understanding the primary reasons for Psy being infamous in Japan and popular in Europe.
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One of the questions is ‘Do we underestimate the Korean pop-culture’s ability to gain world popularity? Why does it occur?’. Another issue is ‘What is the primary intention of K-pop? Is it to popularize Korean culture or is it to gain world recognition?’
Connections between two readings
A primary link between these two readings is that both of them focus on the popularity of Korean culture. Moreover, both of them discuss the phenomena of Psy in the world. Lastly, an important feature of the Japanese culture, which explains the popularity of K-pop, was also mentioned in both readings.
Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural
Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan by John Lie, it could be said that the song failed to conquer Japan because it has no similarities with K-pop romantic and beauty emphasis (Lie “Why Didn’t” 44). Lie claims that the inability to accept and favor the Gangnam style occurred due to the geographical argument among Korea and Japan, as both countries were “claiming ownership” of Takeshima and Dokdo (“Why Didn’t” 44).
It is assumed that a primary reason for the hate of the Gangnam style is the occurrence of the international conflict, after which Japanese people started mocking Psy with his hit song. Another reason for Psy being unpopular is its dissimilarities with K-pop music (Lie “Why Didn’t” 46). This statement is considered, as the thesis statement. It is apparent that K-pop is reflected as “beautiful and handsome, refined and regimented” (Lie “Why Didn’t” 46). The answer to this question can be displayed, as Psy was unable to become famous on the Japanese pop-market, as he lacks essential characteristics, such as cute and romantic.
Moreover, the author discusses the reasons for the popularity of Korean dramas and K-pop in more detail. The author claims that a primary reason for the rapidly growing popularity of these aspects is a favorable political situation between these two countries (Lie “Why Didn’t” 46). Slowly, Korean movies become more romantic and elegant, and it helped Korea to gain market share in pop-culture.
The chapter Prelude of the book K-pop by Lie is presented in a form of a story, where the main character is having a conversation with a fan of Korean pop culture at the beginning of the first chapter (Lie Prelude par. 2). The author states that K-pop music is rather popular in Europe, and it is his thesis statement. The author also claims that k-pop gained vast popularity not only in Japan but also around the world (Lie Prelude par. 7).
Another statement is Korean government understood the necessity to develop Korean pop-culture and spread it around the world, and they tend to say that Psy “appeared right when we were ready to take Gangnam global” (Lie Prelude par. 8). The author addresses several research questions with the themes such as the origin of Korean pop-culture, the intention of K-pop, and a phenomenon of K-pop popularity. In the end, the author’s primary concern is the fact that it is hard to perform music analysis and express the main findings in the book (Lie Prelude par. 10).
There are several aspects, which sounded confusing or inspirational in the article Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Gangnam Style Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan by John Lie. The fact that I found rather confusing and exciting at the same time is that “although tastes vary, a long-standing idea among Japanese women is androgynous or even effeminate man” (Lie “Why Didn’t” 47). It contradicts the Western perception of masculinity.
Another fact that “Despite considerable diversity, the mainstream Japanese pop-music industry is insular and oligopolistic” (Lie “Why Didn’t” 50). “Despite their South Korean origins and reliance on English refrains, South Korean performers sing lyrics in Japanese” (Lie “Why Didn’t” 51). Besides, I find this fact rather interesting, as a majority of foreign singers perform in English. It is easier to acquire market share by adapting to the preferences of the audience.
Another aspect, which I find interesting, “Gender divide is ubiquitous and constitutes one of the two major classificatory binaries in Japanese society (along with the divide between domestic and foreign” (Lie “Why Didn’t” 56). This aspect remains rather attractive, as it is an uncommon attribute of Western culture.
As for the second reading, the following aspects seem rather confusing and inspiring. The point I did not understand is the fact that people tend to address the Korean vocabulary and “Confucian culture” to know the K-pop (Lie Prelude par. 9). It completely agrees with the author that it is an unsuitable way to do it, as the intended meaning is rather different.
The last feature I found interesting is the fact that the singers were performing in Korean, and “a language surely very few of us know” (Lie Prelude par. 4). Nonetheless, it did not affect the preferences or change of the attitude of the audience. A current situation would not occur in Japan, but Western people did not mind listening to the performance in the other language.
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In conclusion, interesting features of the Japanese culture were revealed. The evaluation of these aspects explained the popularity of K-pop and hate to the Psy. Being cheesy and funny are not the primary attributes of Japanese culture. In turn, K-pop was popular in Japan since it was romantic, and it was the main characteristic preferred by Japanese women. Not only cultural but also political specifics had a vehement impact on Psy being infamous in Japan. However, Psy is popular in Europe, even though he does not practice any language adaptations.
Lie, John. “Prelude.” K-pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea. Ed. John Lie. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015. Print.
—. “Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan.” Cross Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 9 (2013): 44-67. Web.