SCMS 2019, Seattle: “Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Korean Popular Media”

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Indie film-maker Strongberry’s queer film “Long Time No See” (2017)

Please come and join my colleagues Jungmin Kwon, So-Rim Lee, Stephanie Choi and I at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies in Seattle, March 13-17th where we will be hosting a panel entitled “Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Korean Popular Media: Towards a Queer Critique.” Here is our conference abstract:

Recent years have seen a growing academic interest in Korean popular culture, with a strong research focus emerging on patterns of its production and its consumption by a predominantly female fanbase. Within this diverse panel comprised of two assistant professors, a postdoctoral researcher, and a graduate student, we argue for the increased need for a queer(ing) approach to the analysis of representational politics within Korean popular media. In adopting a queer(ing) approach, we do not merely seek to impose the study of non-normative sexual cultures via Euro-American centric paradigms, but also seek to examine how the study of Korean popular media may enrich and extend queer theory itself. To do this, we explore several Korean popular media forms, including films, TV shows, and music with a dual focus on queering production and reception. Kwon examines how Korean “bromance” films both respond to market desires for “gay romance” amongst young female consumers as well as uphold homosocial norms to appeal to conservative audiences. Lee, through her performance studies reading of the cosmetic surgery reality show Let Me In, demonstrates how the queerness of cosmetic surgery sustains both heteronormativity and patriarchy in South Korean society. Via a discussion of homoerotic “fanfiction,” Choi examines how gender is queered through K-pop music fans’ affective engagement with K-pop idols. On the other hand, through an ethnographic study of Japanese gay fans’ reception and “decoding” of K-pop, Baudinette shows how sexual desires for Korean men are intimately tied to heteronormative and xenophobic understandings of Korean masculinity.

Our session will be held at 5:45PM on Saturday 16th March! We are grateful to the SCMS Queer Caucus for sponsoring our panel!

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