The Pop Pacific: South Korean and Japanese Popular Music & Society

Course Number: ASAN 464
Course Title: The Pop Pacific: South Korean and Japanese Popular Music & Society
Course Description: This course examines changes in modern Japan and South Korea through a historical investigation of popular music. We will examine urban popular music from chart-topping idols, boy bands, and rock groups as well as “traditional Korean teuroto and Japanese enka music and the lesser-known subcultures of folk and computer music.

We are going to look at a “Pop Pacific”, a space of transnational cultural construction where “Korean” and “Japanese” popular music, heavy with American influence, has been created through a process of cultural exchange mediated through the physical presence of Japantowns and Koreatowns in the U.S., American bases in East Asia, TV, and the internet. The “Pop Pacific” will reveal the hidden transnational aspects of today’s K-pop (Korean pop) and J-pop (Japanese popular music), and show that much of this Asian popular music was part of a larger global web of world music and so labels of national origin like “Japanese”, “Korean”, or “American” hide the true nature of the transnational web of popular music.
Learning Objectives:

  • Describe 20th century Japanese and South Korean popular music and its relation to the rest of the world

  • Examine popular music in the context of cultural studies

  • Analyze various genres of popular music and their relationship with South Korean, Japanese, and world society