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In Session: Korean Pop Fandom: Industry, Political Identity, Gender, and Community-Building
3: To Voice Aloud: Female Sonic Space Created by Ttechang at K-Pop Concerts in Korea
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Yonsei University, Republic of Korea
K-pop can be understood as an inclusive cultural phenomenon. Among diverse elements constituting this phenomenon, fandom shapes a participatory culture of K-pop in various ways. However, female fans, especially in Korea, are frequently disdained in mainstream Korean culture, and their fandom has been undervalued and even derided since media have represented female K-pop fans as mere celebrity worshipers squealing, sobbing and swooning with enthusiasm for K-pop stars. Challenging this negative view of female fandom, this paper examines how Korean female fans construct their own sonic space through participating in fan chanting and singing along, also known as “ttechang” in the Korean language. For this examination, I draw on my participant observation of K-pop concerts in Korea. First, I will describe a variety of scenes and sounds which are observed at the venue before, during, and after the concert. More specifically, I will explore how Korean female K-pop fans make sounds around the venue. Also, I will analyze ttechang performed by Korean girls and women in response to K-pop musicians’ live performances. I will then argue that Korean female fandom not only builds soundscapes of K-pop through making use of their voices, including ttechang, but also creates gynocentric space where women can overwhelm and even control male voice, contrary actual situations in the male-dominated Korean society.