Reflecting on Japan-Korea relations through the Korean Wave: fan desires, nationalist fears and transcultural fandom

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Abstract

This article draws upon a longitudinal study of K-pop fans in Japan and an ethnographic investigation of Tokyo’s “Koreatown” of Shin-Ōkubo to reflect on the current state of Japan-Korea relations. Arguing that the reception of K-pop in Japan must always be contextualized within the postcolonial relationship between Japan and Korea, I reveal that K-pop’s Japanese reception is typified by cycles of boom and bust. Analyzing fan discourse and discourse about fans, I demonstrate that the Korean Wave produces various desires and fears among the Japanese public, suggesting that persistent Korea-phobia among conservatives stymies K-pop’s soft power potentials. Nevertheless, I elucidate how consuming K-pop instils attraction among fans but caution against too optimistic a reading of such fannish devotion due to the potential for Korean Wave fandom to be dismissed as feminized by conservatives. I conclude by reflecting on the implications of this case study for transcultural approaches to fan studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransformative Works and Cultures
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2021

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