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Home is Where You Serve: Globalization and Nationalism in Korean Popular Music
Unformatted Document Text:  9 immigrants have flowed into Korea particularly since the early 90s. If flows of people from the ex-colonial countries to the Western metropolitan centers in the postwar era has made us increasingly conscious of the colonial aspect of the development of modernity and the question of cultural identity (Featherstone, 1996), flows of those ‘salmon’ made us realize that the colonial aspects have produced unintended consequences. People move to the Western centers mostly for economic and political reasons, whereas people move back from the centers to their ‘origin’ for cultural reasons. In fact, nothing in Korea attracts more salmons than entertainment business does, and popular music has been the biggest habitat for the salmons. With their cosmopolitan sensibility and linguistic and musical versatilities, those salmon have successfully positioned themselves in the center of Korean popular music. These musicians, singers, composers, dancers, and even entertainment businessmen who are armored with commercially profitable weapons have been highly successful in spite of criticisms regarding their America-oriented styles— until one unusual story hit strong the geographies of popular music. On January 18, 2002, media reported that a popular teen idol, Seung-jun Yoo, obtained a waiver for Korean military duty with his choice of a citizenship of the United States, resulting a renounce of his Korean citizenship. He had been scheduled for conscription by the Korean military for a period of 28 months, but his foreign citizenship automatically exempted him from his obligation. Criticisms of his decisions appeared on chat boards throughout the Internet and mainstream media as soon as news regarding the pop star’s military exemption became public. The public anger towards him was so huge that even his record company, Seoul Record, had fallen into a dilemma whether or not it would continue to produce his albums. Yoo was also hosting a show on a national TV

Authors: Lee, Hee-Eun.
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immigrants have flowed into Korea particularly since the early 90s. If flows of people
from the ex-colonial countries to the Western metropolitan centers in the postwar era has
made us increasingly conscious of the colonial aspect of the development of modernity
and the question of cultural identity (Featherstone, 1996), flows of those ‘salmon’ made
us realize that the colonial aspects have produced unintended consequences. People move
to the Western centers mostly for economic and political reasons, whereas people move
back from the centers to their ‘origin’ for cultural reasons. In fact, nothing in Korea
attracts more salmons than entertainment business does, and popular music has been the
biggest habitat for the salmons. With their cosmopolitan sensibility and linguistic and
musical versatilities, those salmon have successfully positioned themselves in the center
of Korean popular music. These musicians, singers, composers, dancers, and even
entertainment businessmen who are armored with commercially profitable weapons have
been highly successful in spite of criticisms regarding their America-oriented styles—
until one unusual story hit strong the geographies of popular music.
On January 18, 2002, media reported that a popular teen idol, Seung-jun Yoo,
obtained a waiver for Korean military duty with his choice of a citizenship of the United
States, resulting a renounce of his Korean citizenship. He had been scheduled for
conscription by the Korean military for a period of 28 months, but his foreign citizenship
automatically exempted him from his obligation. Criticisms of his decisions appeared on
chat boards throughout the Internet and mainstream media as soon as news regarding the
pop star’s military exemption became public. The public anger towards him was so huge
that even his record company, Seoul Record, had fallen into a dilemma whether or not it
would continue to produce his albums. Yoo was also hosting a show on a national TV


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