Like the country itself, South Korean popular culture and music has grown to take on an international presence over the past ten to fifteen years. Cultural figures, from Seotaiji to g.o.d to TVXQ to Big Bang, have been making waves in steadily increasing extents, to the point of becoming a dominant force and current standard throughout Asia. Yet there are a number of lesser known factors behind the words they sing and the images they present, as well as the implications of such works. Thanks to Fulbright, this past year Emilie Chu has been able to study the relationship between Korean pop music and Korean culture through its history, society and industries by examining Korean songs within their local context, and has found some very interesting connections between cultural expression and representation.
Emilie has spent time on both coasts of the United States and became exposed to Asian and South Korean culture after living in Southern California. Later at Rice University, she further developed her interests and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in Asian Studies and English. Her personal experiences of encounters with popular music and love for language and the arts has led her to investigate the roots and ramifications of music that moves on a large scale, as in her Fulbright project. She hopes her work will contribute to a greater understanding of the makings and significance of popular music, as well as stimulate critical awareness and cultural sensitivity regarding Asia.