Given its expanding multimedia presence in Asia and around the world for many years now, K-pop is a phenomenon that is hard to ignore. This “animal that thrives on excess,” as Suk-Young Kim
puts it (p. 6) is more than just music, however, as it offers us a way of looking at a host of fascinating and important subjects in politics, economics, anthropology and performance studies.
Suk-Young Kim's book K-Pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance
(Stanford University Press, 2018) transports us into K-pop's dizzying world of production, consumption, participation and neoliberal commerce. As well as navigating the geopolitical and technological conditions that have enabled K-pop’s emergence and success, Kim takes us up close to the fans and stars themselves through her ethnographic work at gigs, conventions and TV recordings. Combining all the passion of a true fan with clear-headed analysis of postmodern subjects' interactions with big business and the state, this is a must-read for anyone curious about contemporary Korean cultural history, digital technologies, or how BIGBANG perfect their dance moves.
Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.