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Home is Where You Serve: Globalization and Nationalism in Korean Popular Music
Unformatted Document Text:  11 captured national attention. Before discussing about the processes of identity politics around this case, it may be the order to take a look at Yoo’s personal background. Born in Seoul, Korea, Seung-jun Yoo moved to the U.S. at the age of 14 with his parents. As a son of immigrant family, Yoo experienced difficulties adjusting to his new life and felt marginalized. Between his Korean parents and American surroundings, he faced a diverse cultural struggles and confusions including, of course, racism. Having experienced somewhat troublesome years in Los Angeles area and realized that his dream as a singer may be impossible to achieve in the U.S., he returned to Korea to pursue a career in music. When he appeared in Korean music scene in 1997, he was more than welcomed by the Korean music industry because he had abilities to speak, sing, dance and rap in both Korean and English. Since the late 1980s, Korean media industry had undergone a significant restructuring under the influence of globalization, and in the process of the expansion of media outlets new inputs were highly demanded. For the music industry, the American flavor Yoo and other returned entertainers deliver was a huge advantage to compete against the global music repertoires. Taking stock of the English ability of those salmons, Korea has even emerged as a new powerhouse of the entertainment industry in Asia in the 1990s. Yoo was successfully anchored in the powerhouse, thanks to his bilingual communication abilities and globally marketable music and dancing. However what really made him stood out among many other salmons were his outspoken attitudes and charity activities. He appeared on anti-tobacco commercials aimed at young people and set up scholarships for poor students. Unlike other salmons, he had a wide range of following fans thanks to his positive image as a ‘beautiful Korean youth.’ For teenagers he was an absolute idol; for older generations he

Authors: Lee, Hee-Eun.
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11
captured national attention. Before discussing about the processes of identity politics
around this case, it may be the order to take a look at Yoo’s personal background.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Seung-jun Yoo moved to the U.S. at the age of 14 with his
parents. As a son of immigrant family, Yoo experienced difficulties adjusting to his new
life and felt marginalized. Between his Korean parents and American surroundings, he
faced a diverse cultural struggles and confusions including, of course, racism. Having
experienced somewhat troublesome years in Los Angeles area and realized that his dream
as a singer may be impossible to achieve in the U.S., he returned to Korea to pursue a
career in music. When he appeared in Korean music scene in 1997, he was more than
welcomed by the Korean music industry because he had abilities to speak, sing, dance
and rap in both Korean and English. Since the late 1980s, Korean media industry had
undergone a significant restructuring under the influence of globalization, and in the
process of the expansion of media outlets new inputs were highly demanded. For the
music industry, the American flavor Yoo and other returned entertainers deliver was a
huge advantage to compete against the global music repertoires. Taking stock of the
English ability of those salmons, Korea has even emerged as a new powerhouse of the
entertainment industry in Asia in the 1990s. Yoo was successfully anchored in the
powerhouse, thanks to his bilingual communication abilities and globally marketable
music and dancing. However what really made him stood out among many other salmons
were his outspoken attitudes and charity activities. He appeared on anti-tobacco
commercials aimed at young people and set up scholarships for poor students. Unlike
other salmons, he had a wide range of following fans thanks to his positive image as a
‘beautiful Korean youth.’ For teenagers he was an absolute idol; for older generations he


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