[Recorded Lecture] Exploring the Queer Potentials of Transcultural K-pop Fandom

Shipping idols together such as ATEEZ’s Wooyoung and San is one of many K-pop fan practices laden with queer potential!

On Friday March 26th, at 7PM CST (GMT-6), I delivered a lecture entitled “The Queer Potentials of Transcultural K-Pop Fandom: Voices from Australia, Japan and the Philippines” as part of the Asian American/Global Asias Speakers Series at Washington University in St Louis.

The presentation draws upon my ongoing ethnographic work with LGBTQ+ fans of K-pop in Australia, Japan and the Philippines and seeks to explore why K-pop has become an important resource to young queer people around the globe.

The abstract is below:

In this presentation, I reflect on the increasingly global phenomenon of K-pop through the lens of queer theory, interrogating how the desires engendered by male K-pop idols engage with questions of gender and sexuality around the globe. I draw upon ongoing ethnographic research in Australia, Japan and the Philippines to develop a framework for understanding the queer potentials of Korean popular culture fandom. In Japan, I explore the emergence of K-pop as an integral part of young women’s consumer culture and discuss how queer fan practices such as “shipping” subvert hetero-patriarchy in Japanese society. I then reflect on Japanese gay male fans’ engagement with “beastly” K-pop idols to both critique simplistic assumptions concerning the supposed “soft masculinity” of Korean male celebrities and to investigate culturally specific modes of reading K-pop that align with the norms of Japan’s gay culture. I then continue this examination through a discussion of the emancipatory role that K-pop fandom has played for LGBTQ fans who I have interviewed in Anglophone fan contexts (Australia and the Philippines). I conclude by reflecting on how a transcultural, ethnographic methodology is necessary to account for both the socio-cultural politics of the reception of K-pop and any theorisation of its engagement with local ideologies of gender and sexuality.

The lecture was recorded and can be viewed via this link. Please note that due to technical issues, the first minute of the lecture was not recorded, but this was mostly just house-keeping and an introduction to who I am. My thanks to Dr Linling Gao-Miles for inviting me to speak at WUSTL and also to Dr Clare Kim for moderating the event.

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