Today in “My Fav is Problematic” – Kpop Version

(CN: Flashy gifs are in this here post)

(Also, there are a lot of gifs and images below and me fangirling about. You have been warned)

I may have hinted that I’m kind of a fan of Korean pop music in a few past blog posts, but that’s only partly true.

I’m a BIG fan of Kpop.  Have been before Gangnam Style came out *hipster sniff* It brings out my inner 90s boy band loving self.  I may not speak a word of Korean and I have a hard time pronouncing some of the names of my biases, but damn, awesome choreography is a universal language and these guys are very nice to look at.

I’m not alone as a black fan of Kpop.  I watch videos of people reacting to Kpop videos. My ‘victory” song is the Gangnam Style/2 Legit 2 Quit mashup from the Grammys years ago.



I actually spent money on a t-shirt for one of my favorite bands and wear it proudly.


EXO-L 4 Lyfe

But it’s damn problematic, with some songs and bands appropriating the fuck out of black culture.  Hell, Korea in general has a serious issue with Blackness.  Like damn.


...really? Like really?
…really? Like really? (photo from Koreaboo website)

Other folks have talked about this already, so I’m just going to show you some visual examples in the music that make me sad.

Why are you wearing a grill?
Why are you wearing a vampire grill?


Cornrows as far as the eye can see.
Cornrows as far as the eye can see.


Tumblr unpopularkpop posted this confession
Tumblr unpopularkpop posted this confession


Yes, this is the choreographer, Parris Goebel. But really, G-Dragon? On a leash? *facepalm*
Yes, this is the choreographer, Parris Goebel. But really, G-Dragon? On a leash? *facepalm*


It’s aggravating at the very least to see this.  But, again, it also makes me sad.  Why?

Most of these artists pictured are artists I fucking adore.

It’s hard to love something so aggravating, to know that THIS is what they think Black culture is, and they take it on and off like a costume. They act like gangstas or cholas for one song, then slip back into pop star mode for the next song. And that’s not when they’re being blatantly racist.

Way to go, Taeyang.

It’s my hope that as they seem to realize that they do have black fans, as these bands do their world tours and meet international fans, and maybe not pissing us off is a good idea.

But I’m not here to condemn Kpop, no, no. I want to wrap things up by offering alternatives: songs and bands that have minimal or no problems with aping gangsta culture.

(Though it seems to be a requirement that almost ever boy band must have a band member who raps somewhere in their song)

Two of the most notorious appropriators, the aforementioned Taeyang and G-Dragon, are members of the group BIG BANG.  When they’re all together, they’re more of a pop group that I feel okay listening to.  Even the one where that Parris on a leash scene – I just skip the video.  Give Sober and Fantastic Baby a try.

...where you'll meet this handsome devil, T.O.P.
…where you’ll meet this handsome devil, T.O.P.

There’s the band SHINee, my first taste of Kpop years ago. Don’t let the gif fool you, there are only five members in the band. The gif is from Ring Ding Dong, and check out Married to the Music for their more recent stuff.

First Video I Saw. Aww.
First Video I Saw. Aww, they were just babies back then.

And the band on my shirt: EXO. Don’t let the gif fool you, there really are 10 members in this band (originally 12) and they do their songs in both Korean and Mandarin. This is from the Call Me Baby (Korean version).  Overdose (Mandarin version) nails the tight dance moves these guys are known for.


Body roll on, gents. Body roll on.

…so I might have some attraction to hips.  Sue me.

There are other bands I could recommend, but I think this random post has gone on long enough.  Promise I’ll get back to socially justice stuff…eventually.


Today in “My Fav is Problematic” – Kpop Version

One thought on “Today in “My Fav is Problematic” – Kpop Version

  1. 1

    I lived in Seoul from 2001-2005, and while there was nothing as blatant as the images you posted, some of the same things still went on back then. A lot of Korean rappers flashed hand gestures (not “gang signs” or anything, but they were certainly based on them) and mannerisms seen in American rappers of the 1990s and early 2000s.

    I never listened to K-pop so I don’t have a catalogue to go through and reference for you. The only commercial K-pop music I ever listened to was Kim Hyun Jung (the “dance queen”) and Harisu (the transgender pop singer). I was a fan of the punk and alternative groups, all of whom I still listen to.

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