A breezy but flawed introduction to Korean pop music for novice fans.
While many Americans only discovered Korean pop music, also known as K-Pop, when Psy’s music video for “Gangnam Style” went viral on YouTube in 2012, it has been popular worldwide for over a decade. This primer follows the development of K-Pop from the 1950s to the present, focusing mostly on the last 20 years. Through profiles of influential artists—including Seo Taiji, Rain, Girls’ Generation and Psy— Kallen describes the “factorylike” star systems at Korea’s major labels and the phenomenon of Hallyu, the “wave” of global interest in Korean pop culture that began in East Asia in the late 1990s. Numerous color photos and playlists of artists’ representative songs add interest for teens. However, knowledgeable readers will note that the author overstates some artists’ impacts, overlooks other major musicians completely and appears to have only a rudimentary knowledge of Korean culture, perhaps due to his reliance on non-Korean, English-language sources. One example of this is the author’s incorrect use of the Japanese term “anime” to describe Korean animation.
Though English-language books on Korean pop culture are unfortunately quite rare, only complete newbies will find this overview informative. (glossary, recommended albums, source notes, selected bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)