There’s a New Wave of Korean Musicians Thriving Outside the K-Pop Machine

A crop of producers are breaking free from your stereotypes.
January 30, 2017, 7:04pm

It's never been tough to find women in Korean music. While K-pop's carefully coiffed and chiseled boy bands rake in most of the diehard fans and sales certs abroad, it's their female equivalents who dominate the charts back home. The right combination of a catchy melody and memorable dance can spread from Seoul to the southernmost tip of South Korea in a matter of hours, and whether it's Wonder Girls' point dance or Sistar's bouncy hooks, girl groups haven proven to be Korea's preferred mode of pop fantasy for the better part of the past decade. But there was always something missing. Girls' Generation may have ushered in an era of female-focused pop that's lived up to their name, but all too few women have been creatively involved in the music's production or performance. Even popular anthems of female empowerment from acts like 2NE1 ("I Am the Best") and Miss A ("I Don't Need a Man") were made by men at the record companies who'd assembled them, set to music videos as cutesy as they were fierce. In a sense, K-pop girl groups developed out of a Korean entertainment cliche that stretches back through 80s idols like Kim Wan-sun and Ed Sullivan's multi-instrumentalist faves the Kim Sisters: women permitted to perform a role, but not to make one for themselves. Read more on Noisey