Cheyney University’s Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Dr. Gooyong Kim has a unique point of view on South Korea’s modern culture, particularly its music known as K-Pop, short for Korean Pop.
The popular musical genre originated in South Korea and it is influenced by several different musical styles from around the world, such as rock, jazz, gospel, hip hop, R&B and reggae. The music videos are known for bright colors and entertaining choreography performed by boy bands and girl bands.
Dr. Kim’s first book, From Factory Girls to K-pop Idol Girls: Cultural Politics of Developmentalism, Patriarchy, and Neoliberalism in South Korea’s Popular Music Industry has drawn critical acclaim for its unique perspective on the changing mores of an Asian culture with a strong traditional social structure. The original hard cover was published February 2019.
“My book is the first, academic monograph that critically examines the various backgrounds and factors behind the recent global success of South Korean popular culture, especially focusing on an astronomical rise of female idol groups,” Kim said.
“Before my book, the scholars mainly paid attention to microscopic dimensions of the phenomenon such as textual analyses of music videos, choreographies, idols’ appearances, and the fandom. However, I examined the topic from macro, structural perspectives that made the success possible. This included the South Korean government’s policies, the industry’s business strategies, the country’s cultural legacy of Confucianism, nationalism and patriotism, transnational system of neoliberalism, and individual subjectification/ subjectivation by consuming popular culture.”
Since its original publication, his book has achieved an objective yardstick of success as an academic monograph. A review article on the book was published in Pacific Affair, the oldest and one of the most influential academic journals on the cultural, economic, political, and social issues in Asia and the Pacific.
Dr. Kim has been with Cheyney since the Spring 2015, joining the faculty as an adjunct professor and becoming a full-time tenure-track assistant professor in Spring 2016. One of his current courses is Communication Law and Ethics. The course focuses on laws related to mass communication and on the ethical and moral responsibilities of communication systems and of professional communicators.
He graduated from South Korea’s Chonnam National University in 2004 with a B.A. in Communication. He earned an M.A. in Communication (Broadcasting, Tele-Communication, and Mass Media) at Temple University in 2004-2006 and earned his Ph.D. in Cultural/ Media Studies and Media Literacy at UCLA.
“My college-level teaching career began in 2005 as a teaching assistant at Temple. After my Ph.D. and before coming to Cheyney, I taught various courses on Popular/ Media Culture, Mass Communication, and Asian Studies at Temple. During my college years at Chonnam National University, I was a Head Instructor at CNU Department of Communication Institute of Photojournalism.”
According to Dr. Kim, work on his book began in 2012 when Girls’ Generation, a South Korean idol girl group, made a network TV debut in the U.S. When he was at Temple University, his students were asking questions about the group and K-pop.
“I started to receive a lot of questions from my students at Temple; however, I did not know anything about the group or K-pop at that time,” he said. “So, in order to address my students’ questions, I decided to do a systematic research on the topic. I wrote a chapter on a different dimension of the topic in each semester. Before publishing the book, some of its chapters had been published in prominent academic journals in the discipline, like International Journal of Communication, Journal of Language and Politics, and Telos.”
Since its original hard-cover publication, there was a subsequent, paperback publication in July 2020 and a critical, academic review article publication in a top-notched, peer-reviewed academic journal in December 2020. Right now Dr. Kim is working on several active research projects and a second book.
“The surprising success of BTS (also known as the Bangtan Boys) and BlackPink in the US suggests an ever-growing creative agility of the K-pop industry,” Dr. Kim said. “I have a couple of active research projects scheduled to publish. One of the most active projects is that a couple of my research papers on BTS will be published later this year as a part of Routledge’s edited volume on the global successes of South Korean popular culture and a peer-reviewed journal publication. My research on South Korean government’s policy on film industry will be published by SUNY Press next year.
My second book on South Korean women’s socio-political activism will be published by Palgrave McMillan in 2023. It is titled as Political Maternity, Human Rights, and the Gwangju May Uprising: Untold Stories of the Bereaved Mothers’ Fight for Truth and Justice in South Korea.”
When asked if there was any aspect of his book that he incorporates into his lectures, the answer was ‘yes.’
“To spearhead the socio-historic legacy of Cheyney as the Nation’s first HBCU, I incorporate how African American lives have influenced and been constructed by mass communication media in the US. Especially, I have indicated how commercialization of hip-hop has coopted the music genre’s initial nature of socio-political statement on racial injustices in the U.S. In other words, while I do not use K-pop and Korean popular culture in my lectures, I do apply all the research questions and findings from my book in every part of my teaching at Cheyney.”
Dr. Kim also stated that he is developing new courses on hip-hop, to address Hip Hop and African American Lives in the Media and Politics of Hip Hop. He hopes to incorporate these courses into the Communication Arts degree program at Cheyney. He doesn’t use portions of his book in his lectures but would like to use some portion of the book in other courses that have been submitted for approval process, such as International/ Intercultural Communication.
“As far as the Communication Arts Program at Cheyney is concerned, it is set to grow and get stronger,” Dr. Kim said. “I have proposed to offer many courses that students are interested in and find useful in their career developments, such as Sports Journalism, History of Black Cinema, Media Industry and Racism, Social Movements and the Media, Media and African American Legacy in Philadelphia, and Environmental Communication to name a few.