Korean Wave| Domestic Hallyu: K-Pop Metatexts and the Media’s Self-Reflexive Gesture

Michelle Cho


Television serves as a crucial medium for shaping the South Korean public’s response to the success of hallyu, or the Korean Wave, in news reports, variety shows, and celebrity interview programs. Further, in the last decade, several K-pop idols have been cast in serial narrative television shows that fictionalize hallyu creative industries. These metatextual shows domesticate transnational idol pop celebrities by contributing layers of televisual intimacy to their star personae and by seeming to expose the inner workings of the entertainment industries. This essay focuses on two notable examples, Dream High (2011, KBS2) and Answer Me 1997 (2012, tvN), to consider what this proliferation of popular narratives about media production and reception on South Korean television signifies. I argue that the intertextual presentation of K-pop on Korean television negotiates a complex relationship between popular culture and public culture in South Korea. The metatextual relay revealed in these shows—what I characterize as the media’s self-reflexive critical gesture—provides access to the ideological impasses of the attempt to produce intimate national publics through globalized contents.


metatextuality, television, K-drama, K-pop, hallyu, Korean Wave

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