K-pop, described by Time Magazine in 2012 as "South Korea’s greatest export", has rapidly achieved a large worldwide audience of devoted fans largely through distribution over the Internet. This book examines the phenomenon, and discusses the reasons for its success. It considers the national and transnational conditions that have played a role in K-pop’s ascendancy, and explores how they relate to post-colonial modernisation, post-Cold War politics in East Asia, connections with the Korean diaspora, and the state-initiated campaign to accumulate soft power. As it is particularly concerned with fandom and cultural agency, it analyses fan practices, discourses, and underlying psychologies within their local habitus as well as in expanding topographies of online networks. Overall, the book addresses the question of how far "Asian culture" can be global in a truly meaningful way, and how popular culture from a "marginal" nation has become a global phenomenon.

chapter |18 pages


Why fandom matters to the international rise of K-pop

chapter |16 pages

Same look through different eyes

Korea's history of uniform pop music acts

chapter |16 pages

“Into the New World”

Girls' Generation from the local to the global

chapter |15 pages

The political economy of idols

South Korea's neoliberal restructuring and its impact on the entertainment labour force

chapter |15 pages

Despite not being Johnny's

The cultural impact of TVXQ in the Japanese music industry

chapter |17 pages

SBS PopAsia

Non-stop K-pop in Australia

chapter |17 pages

Hallyu and the K-pop boom in Japan

Patterns of consumption and reactionary responses

chapter |13 pages

The dynamics of K-pop spectatorship

The Tablo witch-hunt and its double-edged sword of enjoyment

chapter |18 pages

“We keep it local” – Malaysianising “Gangnam Style”

A question of place and identity

chapter |14 pages

A sound wave of effeminacy

K-pop and the male beauty ideal in China