Theorizing the Korean Wave| K(Q)ueer-Pop for Another World: Toward a Theorization of Gender and Sexuality in K-Pop

Jungmin Kwon


This article argues that the K-pop space, which on one level appears to be homogeneously cishetpatriarchal, actually encompasses multiple configurations of gender and sexual identity. Nonetheless, academic discussions about gender and sexuality in K-pop have been significantly weighted toward the idea of “soft masculinity” regarding male performers, thereby muffling other possible interpretations. I suggest a new term, K(Q)ueerness. It means the aesthetics, imaginations, practices, performances, and ideas of K-pop players sublate binaristic identifications, including masculinity and femininity and heterosexual and homosexual—as well as Butler’s distinction between performance and performativity—to embrace the multifarious expressions of gender and sexuality surrounding K-pop. This article aims to highlight diverse modalities of K(Q)ueerness and increase queer sensibility within the K-pop studies discipline and K-pop fan communities.


K-pop, Korean music industry, queer, gender, sexuality, performance, performativity

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