The K-POP Landed in Latin America:Subculture and New Subjectivities
Since 2010, the Korean Cultural Center of Latin America (CCC) has organized the Latin American K-POP annual contest divided in two categories: singing and dancing. In its first edition participants included: 98 Argentineans, 12 Colombians, one Costa Rican, five Ecuadorians, 45 Mexicans, 29 Peruvians, six Paraguayans, 64 Chileans, 15 Venezuelans and six Dominicans. This year, there were 400 young people from 14 countries and were selected 15 groups representing seven different countries: Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic and Argentina. From 25 of July to 7 of October, KBS World Radio in Spanish has promoted a contest for foreign listeners on K-POP homemade videos. It had 244 participants from 42 countries. Moreover, social networking websites and Spanish blogs have been playing a key role on diffusing this music on Latin America. Interestingly, most of cybernauts do not belong to the Korean communities. Fascinated with Big Bag, Super Junior, SNSD, 2NE1, JYJ, Girls Generation, DBSK, Shinee, MBLAQ, FT Island, etc.; local followers—mostly under 25 years old—consider themselves as part of an urban tribe: a space for reaffirming their identity with others in a dynamic dialogue where global and local cultural aspects are merged. In which features the K-POP represent Korea? To what extent the K-POP embody “Korean values”? From the audience perspective, how this type of music is connected with a specific place? This paper combines an ethnographic and content analysis study based on interviews to the finalists of the CCC and KBS contests and the role of Facebook, Twitter and Spanish blogs in creating and perpetuating new subjectivities. Considering Sara Cohen (1994) and Keith Negus (1996) theoretical framework on localization of culture and music identity, we will pay special attention to the dynamic relations between social networking websites and participants. Our main objective attempt to point out the necessity of shifting monolithic explanations centered on the dichotomies center versus periphery, West (globalization) versus Asia(regionalization), media centralization versus decentralization; into (re)thinking the phenomenon from a multiform, transgressor and controversial Koreaness that goes beyond national borders creating new ways of being Korean.