Appropriating Gugak and Negotiating K-Heritage. K-Pop's Reconstruction of Korean Aesthetics in the Age of Digital Globalization

Hee-sun Kim


This paper explores global K-pop's negotiation and reconstruction of Korean aesthetics via the dismantling, adoption, appropriation, and transfiguring of central elements of Korean traditional culture. Recently, K-pop groups have been incorporating traditional music and dance (gugak), traditional attire (hanbok), traditional houses (hanok), and old palaces (gogung) into music videos disseminated globally over digital platforms like YouTube. In their efforts to incorporate more 'Koreanness' into their musical productions and neutralize criticisms of their use of the 'K' prefix as inauthentic and unconnected to Korean aesthetics, groups like BTS and BLACKPINK are redefining 'K-heritage' for music consumers worldwide. Along with other globally consumed Hallyu productions like K-movies, K-dramas, and K-games, K-Pop is in the process of reconstructing Koreans' and the world's view of the meaning of Korean-ness.


Korean Traditional Music; K-heritage; K-pop; Korean Aesthetics; Digital Globalization

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia. Registration number of the journal in the Register of Periodical Publications of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic: EV173/23/EPP.

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