[WSJ] Psy-chology 101: Academics put spotlight on K-pop culture

November 4, 2015


(Korea Times file)

(Korea Times file)


Academic minds around the world are tackling some tough new questions about South Korea:

—Why do Korean soap opera plotlines seem to defy the basic principles of microeconomic theory?

—What can we learn about the reinterpretation of locality in Korean rapper Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video?

—Are Korea’s girl groups more popular because their members are, on average, 10 centimeters, or about 3.9 inches, taller than their Japanese counterparts?

These are some of the topics consuming a small but fast-growing pocket of the academic world focused on Korean pop culture, which has emerged as a phenomenon in parts of the world.

Ph.Ds from Poland to Argentina are doing such things as scrutinizing the latest music videos from eight-member girl group Girls’ Generation, chatting up middle-aged Japanese women who camp out in line for tickets to see their favorite Korean boy band and exploring the differences between Korean and Japanese karaoke rooms.