Critical Discourse Analysis on the Issue of K-Pop in the World

Article 1
South Korea’s K-pop takes off in the west
By Christian Oliver in Seoul, Feb 10, 2012

When pop sensation Girls’ Generation recently provided the grand finale to the Late Show with David Letterman, a top slot on US television, it signaled that South Korea’s entertainment industry had broken out of Asia and is now looking to make it big in the west.

Just days after making their first appearance on US network television with their hit single “The Boys”, the band of nine telegenic women this week returned to France – where tickets for a 2011 concert sold out in 15 minutes – to sing on prime time television.

Korean films, soap operas and “K-Pop” music idols, many of which were modelled on Japan’s own sugary “J-Pop”, have taken Asia by storm over the past decade. But the hallyu – or “Korean wave” as the phenomenon is known in Asia – is now spreading to Europe and the US, and spurring South Korea’s export earnings.

Cultural exports – including films, comics and computer games – hit a record $4.2bn last year, up from $2.6bn in 2009, causing the share prices of leading entertainment studios to soar. Even Korea’s favourite cartoon character, the penguin Pororo, has appeared on television in 120 countries.
Cho Hyun-jin, a government representative who coined the phrase K-Pop for Korean bands in a previous incarnation as a journalist, said the spread of Korean music had surpassed his highest hopes.

“It was my old heroes like Led Zeppelin who famously played Madison Square Garden. Now to see Girls’ Generation there is amazing,” he said.
While Korea has been an export powerhouse for decades in electronics, ships and cars, manufacturing companies have rarely played up their Korean brand identity, fearing until recently they would be seen as inferior in quality to Japanese rivals.

Cultural exports are, however, giving the once reclusive country a global cachet for the first time, shaking off the war-torn images of the US comedy M*A*S*H.

Broadcasting exports such as television dramas hit $252m last year, up from $185m in 2009, according to government statistics. Music earned $177m, soaring from only $31m in 2009. Film exports earned $26m, up from $14m in 2009.

Until recently, hallyu was seen as an Asian phenomenon. A 2003 drama called “Jewel in the Palace” about a female doctor at a 16th-century royal court proved a huge hit from Taiwan to Iran, and has more recently come to Eastern Europe.

Asia is still crucial and the most effective managers continue to target export markets there. Park Jin-young, the impresario who runs JYP Entertainment, created the band Miss A with two Korean and two Chinese singers, so they can record their hits in both Korean and Mandarin. Girls’ Generation sing in Korean, English and Japanese.

“The next phase is for the music industry to introduce western singers to globalise the boy and girl bands further,” said Han Koo-hyun, president of the Korean Wave Research Institute.

Koreans have been surprised by the enthusiasm for K-Pop in the west, where Korean culture receives scant attention in mainstream media. Korean newspapers splash photographs of packed French concert halls or British fans greeting Girls’ Generation with signs in Korean.
These European fans have largely discovered K-Pop through social networking sites, Facebook and YouTube.

Many commentators have also observed that K-Pop’s novelty to outsiders comes from the years of training – sometimes in tough quasi-boot camps – that stars endure to ensure their songs are accompanied by immaculate group choreography that is rare in other pop music.

While cultural exports are a source of national pride, Koreans are also calling for improved regulation of the industry. The suicide of Jang Ja-yeon, a soap starlet, in 2009, focused attention on hallyu’s dark underworld where some performers are locked into slave contracts and are told to sleep with managers to win roles.

Article 2
K- Pop Music Evolves as East Meets West
By Garron Longfield, Oct 16, 2012

A wave has moved from the East across the Pacific Rim, hitting America “Gangnam Style.” This wave is Korean pop music called K- pop. In 2011, K-pop splashed onto the shores of America with limited success. A year later the Korean rapper PSY has created a surge of interest. Guinness World Records announced that “Gangnam Style” holds the record for most ‘liked’ video in You Tube history. As a result, I compare the differences of Korean pop versus American pop to develop an understanding behind the growing popularity.

So, what is pop music?
Many consider pop music (pop) the same as popular music. It is easy to confuse the two. New World Encyclopedia described pop as contemporary music and a common type of popular music, the meaning changing according to time and place. Therefore, popular music is music that has mass appeal at any given time and place and includes any genre (style). On the other hand; pop is a flexible genre and utilizes elements of different styles to create timely, fashionable music with a broad, popular appeal.

East meets West.
K-pop is a blending of Japanese pop (J-pop), Asian and Western influences of R&B, hip hop, rap and electronic music. The Asian culture is known for its intricate and fluid dance sometimes accompanied by ballads (verse/chorus} to convey a story or message. J-pop began as an Eastern version of Western pop that included teen girl or boy ‘next door’ types. K-pop expanded on this incorporating a Motown (Barry Gordy) attitude of training the groups to be sociably mature and classy with precise choreographed moves. An article in the New Yorker stated that the trained synchronized moves accompanied by winks and hand gestures have an Asian flavor. K-pop has become more ‘westernized’ and popular in many countries. However, many Americans view it as teen pop or bubble gum pop. I viewed many of the videos. They reminded me of my youth in the 60s when pop was classified as socially innocent bubble gum music played on AM radio stations, catchy tunes but not much musical quality.
American pop has become a melting pot of styles. Creating a quality music product that is a slightly different version of popular genres. One example is Michael Jackson, who had pop hits featured on multiple charts, R&B, hip hop and more.

The evolution
The New Yorker article also stated that “Gangnam Style” is a parody concerning the K-pop culture located in the Gangnam district. After watching many K-pop videos it came together. PSY’s video is more ‘westernized’ and presents a view of K-pop’s need to evolve. Billboard recently made chart changes and no longer rely heavily on radio plays. As a result, PSY is on the rap charts. The video is entertaining. Utilizing electronic hip hop music and rap in Korean and English, interspersed with some amusing moments. The pony dance is a free style form and easy to learn. While K-pop’s future is questionable, PSY is riding a wave of growing popularity. As PSY would say; “It is about dressing classy and dancing cheesy.” However, the dance seems to be fun and not generally considered cheesy.

Critical Discourse Analysis on the Issue of K-Pop in the World

Odysisus Bio Temara
Hanifa Rahmawati

There are always for and against toward any controversial issue. The responses are delivered through many ways; such as electronic media and printed media. The comments given contain many purposes, like criticism, compliment, agreement, and disagreement. The printed media responses an issue through a hundred of words typed in article, blog, magazine, or newspaper. Sometimes, what they want to share is not always acceptable to the readers, and also the other way around, what the readers accept not always represents the media’s intention to share. That’s way, a critical discourse analysis is important to do to analyze any issue both in electronic and printed media.

This essay explores the latest issue regarding the influence of K-Pop (Korean Pop) in Indonesia. There are two issues found reported by Christian Oliver entitled “South Korea K-Pop takes off in the west” and another same issue reported by Garoon Longfield entitled “K-Pop Music Evolves as East Meets West”.

The first article written by Christian Oliver states about the glory of K-Pop in West, including in Europe and US. Oliver highlights a K-Pop girl band named Girls’ Generation that successfully sold their 2011 concert tickets in fifteen minutes to hold the concert in US prime time television. South Korea not only has a blast in music industry but also they are successful in drama. A 2003 phenomenon drama called “Jewel in the Palace” is also booming in Eastern Europe lately. Yet, there are also some negative news come from the Korean star like the suicide of a soap starlet named Jang-Ja-yeon and some performers of Korean stars that are told to sleep with the manager to gain their glory.

Another article also that talks about K-Pop is written by Garoon Longfield. While the previous author, Christian Oliver, highlights a Korean girl band named Girls’ Generation, Longfield symbolizes Korean Pop through a Korean rapper named PSY. The rapper has gained a world record for his “most ‘liked’ video in You Tube history” named “Gangnam Style”. Longfield criticizes then what people called as pop music, describes K-Pop as East meets West, and discusses the evolution of K-Pop. He concludes pop music as a music that has mass appeal at any given time and place and includes any genre (style). Longfield then describes K-Pop as a blending of Japanese pop (J-pop), Asian and Western influences of R&B, hip hop, rap and electronic music. That is why he said that it is what he called as East meets West because it is the mix of Asian and Western music genre. Longfield also discusses about “Gangnam Style” in PSY’s video as the ‘westernized’ K-Pop music and presents a view of K-Pop’s need to evolve.

This analysis starts on the discussion of positioning of the first article entitled “South Korea K-Pop takes off in the west”. The author of this article considers to begin the issue of K-Pop in the west by discussing the glory of K-Pop girl band like Girls’ Generation and their successful in selling live concert ticket in fifteen minutes held in US prime time television. He wants to inform the reader about the Korean girl band that is accepted well in West such as in Europe and US. The following part of this article discusses about the other achievement of K-Pop in West besides their music genre. Drama and game are the other Korean stuff that gain a great attention from West society. In the end of this article, the author informs about the negative cultural value of Koreans like the suicide of one of their stars and the issue talking about the Korean performers that sleep with the manager in order to win roles. The author explains the broader news about K-Pop’s glory in West and then lead the readers to the narrower issue of K-Pop. In our opinion, the author tends to put the negative side of K-Pop facts in the end of the article in order to give ‘surprise’ the reader about the other side of K-Pop that has been widely famous in the world, including in West.

The second article talks about K-Pop and its music genre that is considered by the author as “East meets West”. The positioning of this article is a little bit the same as the previous article being discussed. The author begins his work by discussing about “Gangnam Style” created by a Korean rapper named PSY that has been hitting America and holds Guinness World Record. The following part of this article talks about pop music, the reason of the author called K-Pop as “East meets West”, and why he said that K-Pop is evolve and questionable. In our opinion, the author tend to put the specific information in the beginning of the article by stating about PSY and his “Gangnam Style” because he wants to give a brief example of K-Pop, in this case comes from East or Korea, that successful hits West like America. Then, he composes the reasons of his article stating that K-Pop evolves as East meets West in the following part. The controversial issue of this article discussing about East meets West term used by the author and also the evolution is stated in the last part of this article. In our opinion, it is because the author wants to attract the readers by discussing about PSY and “Gangnam Style” first and then lead them to read his reason why he said K-Pop evolves East and West in the last part of this article.

In the first article by Oliver, he states Korean famous girl band in three ways. First, he points directly to the name of the girl band that is Girls’ Generation, as stated in the first sentence of the first paragraph “When pop sensation Girls’ Generation recently provided…” and in the last sentence of the thirteen paragraph “…British fans greeting Girls’ Generation with signs in Korean.”. The second wording, he calls them as the band of nine telegenic women as shown in the first sentence of the second paragraph “…the band of nine telegenic women this week returned to France…”. Regarding term of reference, we conclude that the author chooses the different wordings in order to avoid repetition so that he did not say the same thing twice.

The term of reference used by Longfield is the other way around. This second author chooses the same wordings to label a Korean rapper named PSY. He points directly by stating the name PSY in every statement discussing the Korean rapper. It can be seen in the fourth sentence of the first paragraph “…PSY has created a surge of interest.”, in the third sentence of the fifth paragraph “PSY’s video is more ‘westernized’…”, in the fifth sentence of the fifth paragraph “…PSY is on the rap charts.”, in the ninth sentence of the fifth paragraph “…PSY is riding a wave of growing popularity.”, and the last is in the tenth sentence of the fifth paragraph “As PSY would say…”. From those choices of wordings, we can conclude that Longfield wants to point out directly and emphasize when he talks about PSY by stating the name without any needs to replace by another reference.

From the previous discussion, we can concluded that particular textual choices are motivated. However, we cannot presume that every choices the authors have made in their article are deliberate. Maybe the authors are not even aware of making the choice at all, but is simply using different expressions in free variation. Even though, we can still analyze the underlying ideological attitude of the authors. This is because even the authors are not aware of their choice of wordings, a particular expressions on their writing may well be made below the level of conscious awareness.
So far we have discussed the positioning and wordings of both of the articles, and now we will continue to discuss on how the author’s lexical choice affect their articles. Firstly, we will look into the article written by Oliver. In the first paragraph, we can see that Oliver is using the phrase “pop sensation” to refer to Girls’ Generation. If we look it up in the dictionary, pop is the clipped form of popular while sensation is generally a feeling or impression that is difficult to explain while experiencing something. If we pair up this phrase with Girl’s Generation, we can conclude that the author is trying to tell the readers that Girl’s Generation is popular and they have become a sensation every time they perform. In the third paragraph, we can also take an example on the expression that “Korean films, soap operas and “K-Pop” music idols, many of which were modelled on Japan’s own sugary “J-Pop”, have taken Asia by storm over the past decade.” If we look for the word storm in any dictionary, generally it means a very bad weather with strong winds and rain, and often thunder and lighting. It will not make any sense that something like storm, which is a natural phenomenon, could be used by Korean culture to taken over Asia. The word storm here only takes the characteristics of the real storm which is big/huge, pushed away almost everything, and unstoppable. Here we can see that the author is trying to portray the spread of Korean culture like a storm and it have taken Asia with that storm.

The same thing can also be found in the second article by Longfield. In the first paragraph, we can take an example from the expression “K-pop splashed onto the shores of America.” It is not true that K-pop could splashed onto any shores since K-pop itself is not either an animate or an inanimate object, it is abstract. The author used the word splashed to portray it like a wave which has been travelling the ocean for so long and has finally splashed onto the shores of America. Later he explained that previously K-pop is only known in Asia but today it is known also in the western countries. Another example we can take is in the fourth paragraph where the author compare the American pop with a melting pot. Again, the author does not really mean a real pot which is melting to describe the American pop. Since this is somewhat a metaphor, we should now that a melting pot is also a term to refer to something in which large numbers of people, ideas, etc. are mixed together. It is clear now that the author wants to express his opinion that American pop has become a genre of music in which there are many styles mixed together in it.

Besides the lexical choice, the author’s grammatical choice may as well affect their articles. For example, in the second paragraph in Oliver’s article, there is a sentence “…the band of nine telegenic women this week returned to France…to sing on prime time television.” The author used full form in this sentence to place Girls’ Generation (the band of nine telegenic woman) to becomes thematized since it is placed as the agent of the sentence. This way, the author’s intention is not only to represent something that just happens to them but also to highlight their active role in the sentence. This sentence supports the whole paragraph about the success of South Korea’s entertainment industry in Asia and is now looking to make it big in the western countries.

In the second article by Longfield, in the first paragraph, there is a sentence “A year later the Korean rapper PSY has created surge of interest.” Just the same with the previous article, the author of this article also used full active form in this sentence to focus on the agent of the sentence, which is PSY. Again, the agent as grammatical subject becomes thematized and is foregrounded as the topic. However, it is not clear what is the author meant by saying PSY has created surge of interest. From this example, we can concluded that the author is not concening in the role of PSY but he simply inform the readers about something that happens to PSY. Later in the paragraph, the author mentioned the reason why is the reason.

Different choice of words can result on different effect it will cause to the readers. The power of words could affect people differently depend on the attitude the writers expressed in their writings. Besides giving information about the things being discussed in the article, the writer also give clues about their attitude, personal opinion, and point of view towards it.
The aim of this paper has been to analyze the underlying ideology expressed by the authors about K-pop and its popularity which trying to reach the western countries. The whole discussion above shows that critical discourse analysis could be applied to even choices of wordings made below the level of conscious awareness. The authors’ intention by writing these articles can be visible to us by analyzing the positioning in the articles, terms of references, alternative wordings and their persuasive purposes, also the significance of textual choice, lexical choice and grammatical choice. These articles are good examples in conducting critical analysis as we have shown the power over the use of language.

Jones, Rodney H. 2012. Discourse Analysis: A Resource Book for Students. London: Routledge
Longfield, Garron. 2012. K-Pop Music Evolves as East Meets West. Yahoo Voices. Retrieved 12 June 2013; 06:03 A.M. from
Oliver, Christian. 2012. South Korea’s K-Pop takes off in the west. Retrieved 12 June 2013; 05:46 A.M. from
Widdowson, H.G. 2007. Discourse Analysis. China: Oxford University Press.


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