In his carefully crafted music video, “Gangnam Style,” Psy reveals an infectiously positive attitude toward life, reflecting the Korean parody tradition of haehak, as opposed to the more critical pungja. Particularly, haehak’s optimistic attitude toward life prioritizes group enjoyment over social criticism. Psy’s video symbolizes an attempt to go through all the difficulties in life with a unique sense of humor and undaunted perseverance. He expresses his positive attitude toward life by creatively transforming the negative to the positive. At the same time, he produces a dynamic video by subverting his audience’s expectations whenever he pokes fun at his characters and their situations. Psy’s portrayal of himself as a “psycho” points to both his eccentricity and passion. His emphasis on eccentricity registers the pagyeok spirit of haehak, particularly breaking with the conventions of the Korean music industry. His relentless pursuit of passion also registers the active attitude of haehak. As a kind of “collective sensibility,” Psy’s group entertainment goes beyond the negative aspects of other popular music, such as homophobia and misogyny. Psy actively partakes of the global creative adaptation of popular music. Creatively remixing East and West, the contemporary and the traditional, he produces a unique humor that alleviates people’s distress during hard times across the globe.
The purpose of this study is to explain how the recent phenomenon of individualization among unmarried young people in their late 30s has been unfolding in relation to familism in Korea. For this purpose, in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 people of the same birth cohort of 1975 who were victims of the economic crisis leading to IMF stewardship at the end of 1990s and who turned 37 years old in 2012, disembedded from the protective institutions of the first modernity according to the term coined by characterization of Ulrich Beck. The results indicated that the process of individualization in Korea lacking institutional protections under the harsh neoliberalism strongly depends on family and familism as a safety net, showing three types of the relationship between familism and individualization: a type of strong disembedment from and weak reembedment in the family; a type of concurrence of weak disembedment from and strong reembedment in family; and a type of individualization by utter coercion with no family to depend on. Finally, the transformed familism, as the simultaneous cause and effect of individualization, was composed not only of a normative element of filial piety toward parents, but also of multidimensions, such as familism as a relationship, and a reciprocal relationship shown in care provided by the parents.
In their recent article entitled “Evidence of Taekwondo’s Roots in Karate: An Analysis of the Technical Content of Early Taekwondo Literature” published in the Korea Journal, Udo Moenig, Cho Sungkyun, and Kwak Taek-Yong present compelling empirical evidence that taekwondo originated from Japanese karate in the mid-twentieth century. The present article aims to discuss the implications of that assertion in the context of the nationalist project to invent a tradition for taekwondo. This article postulates that such myth-making is possible even in the face of strong empirical evidence to the contrary due to an anti-intellectual and anti-empirical nationalism that operates in the production/suppression of knowledge, especially in regard to issues that involve Korea’s complicated historical relation with Japan. This article discusses the process of the construction of an indigenous origin narrative for taekwondo and the response to that narrative in the form of a counter-narrative that postulates the role of karate in taekwondo’s formation. The construction and rationale of the indigenous origin narrative is then examined through the lens of the modern phenomenon of the invented tradition.
This paper seeks to understand how the diverse historical views on Wiman Joseon were formed and evolved, as well as what caused these changes in perspective. In particular, it focuses on how conceptions of Wiman Joseon influenced research and the interpretation of archeological materials following the establishment of modern historical studies. The traditional understanding of Wiman Joseon in early Korean history changed with the emergence of the modern Korean nation from the late nineteenth century, while the modern concept of colony was applied to Wiman Joseon by Japanese scholars starting from the Japanese colonial period (1910–1945). The understanding of the archeological culture of Wiman Joseon was not established independently, but was a by-product of research on the Lelang Commandery. Based on such research, the governing structure of Lelang Commandery was interpreted as a so-called “dualistic ethnic governance structure.” It is important to reflect on whether the modern attempt to establish the state character of Wiman Joseon through the analysis of the ethnicity of Wiman and Wiman Joseon’s ruling class has still failed to emerge from out the shadow of nationalistic and colonialist perceptions.
At first glance, the “potato revolution” initiated personally by Kim Jong Il in 1998 followed the usual DPRK propaganda campaign strategy in moments of crisis. However, a closer look reveals that the potato revolution represented a novel type of political campaign. The unique combination of complex social goals, which were behind the potato revolution, and the novel methods by which this revolution was promoted, reflect the exceptional changes experienced by the DPRK from the 1990s. These changes amounted to the introduction of market logic and rival viewpoints into North Korean society, which had obstinately striven to protect the purity of its official ideology. The potato revolution became a novel type of political campaign, aimed at both producer and consumer; in addition to the familiar methods of Juche propaganda, it employed some popular Western marketing techniques. This paper aims to investigate the potato promotion campaign as a comprehensive cultural phenomenon manifested in a wide range of North Korean cultural practices.
This paper examines a group of North Korean writers known collectively as the April 15 Literary Production Unit (LPU), a group that is not well known outside of South Korean scholarship. The April 15 LPU’s most important task was the production of the Immortal History series and the Immortal Leadership series, a task that continues to this day. Kim Jong Il personally designed and established the April 15 LPU in the mid-1960s, selecting veteran writers from the Writers Union. Their task was to novelize the revolutionary history of Kim Il Sung in a multi-volume series. In the DPRK, the Immortal History series and the Immortal Leadership series are considered unparalleled masterpieces compared to works written about Mao in China and Stalin in the Soviet Union. However, it would be shortsighted to assume that all writers in the Writers Union and the April 15 LPU are blind advocates of the legend of Kim Il Sung. The road to institutionalizing a group of writers solely for Kim’s personality cult was never smooth, and writers in both the Union and the April 15 LPU have struggled with the new writing system in the DPRK.