Idol Shipping Culture: New Chapter in Cambridge Companion to K-pop

The chapter specifically explores how K-pop fans “ship” members of BTS, such as Jimin (L) and Jungkook (R)

My chapter “Idol Shipping Culture: Exploring Queer Sexuality among Fans of K-pop” has just been published within The Cambridge Companion to K-pop, a collection edited by Suk-Young Kim designed to act as an introduction to all aspects of the academic study of K-pop production and fandom. The collection contains chapters penned by some of the most important voices within Korean popular culture studies and I feel very privileged to have been invited to join this exciting project.

Here is a summary of my chapter’s contents:

The practice of imagining idols within romantic and sexual relationships, known as “shipping,” is central to the global fandom of K-pop, allowing fans to develop affective relationships with celebrities through practices such as writing fan fiction. In particular, shipping that reimagines boy groups such as BTS within romantic or homoerotic relationships is especially common as a method of articulating fandom and exploring sexual agency, thus producing spaces within Korea’s patriarchal society where women’s sexual desires can be safely explored. International aspects of BTS shipping, particularly within Japanese and Anglophone fandom spaces (in Australian and the Philippines), is then analyzed. While BTS shipping in Japan tends to conceptualize homoerotic relationships between men via sexual practices and behaviors divorced from identity, Anglophone shipping tends to instead overtly deploy LGBTQ identity politics. Nevertheless, both practices possess queer potentials that allow fans to affectively explore their sexuality. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of shipping in affirming the presence of queer fans within global K-pop culture.

The book is available in paperback at what I believe is quite an affordable price, as well as in e-book format. You can order a copy at your favourite online bookstore.

Of course, if you’re specifically interested in my contribution, you can access a copy of it here. I have also recorded a lecture of the arguments presented in this chapter as part of a previous initiative organised by Suk-Young Kim, which you can find here.

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