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Home is Where You Serve: Globalization and Nationalism in Korean Popular Music
Unformatted Document Text:  16 after the Korean government officially banned his entry to Korea, Yoo became not only ugly American, but also dangerous enemy. Nothing from Yoo’s visual and musical representations defined him as American; only the government action did. Why do Korean people and the government care about the nationality of a singer? Why is Korea so strict about defining ‘true’ Koreans, whereas few people questioned on the Korean- ness of Yoo’s music and himself before the incident? The answer should be found from the historical relationship among global city, youth culture, and popular music. Throughout the mechanisms of colonialism, Third World cities were postmodern and multicultural long before migrations to the First World brought forth similar cultural differences there (Sassen, 1996; Saldanha, 2002). Due to the colonial history of Korea, from mediascape to econoscape, the omnipresent Western or American culture has been staple since the very first establishment of media and popular culture. Because youth are the ones most involved in translating tradition, and translating tradition in the Third World means coming to terms with the presence of the West, Yoo’s multicultural image is accepted without much resistance by youth in Korea. His culturally and economically versatile abilities, however, were suddenly transformed when the power of nation-state intervened in the politics of identity. Once praised his combination of global competencies and traditional values was even more criticized as a pre-planned strategy to dodge his duty of military service. This criticism is based on what Bendle (2002) defines as ‘politics of victimhood,’ a phenomenon in which one’s hidden injury becomes the ground for a claim of valued identity. It is based on the idea that experience is embedded within our sense of belonging, i.e., identity. This victimhood is represented through an odd form of ritual, as Durkheim (1995) puts it, in which the use of commemorative

Authors: Lee, Hee-Eun.
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after the Korean government officially banned his entry to Korea, Yoo became not only
ugly American, but also dangerous enemy. Nothing from Yoo’s visual and musical
representations defined him as American; only the government action did. Why do
Korean people and the government care about the nationality of a singer? Why is Korea
so strict about defining ‘true’ Koreans, whereas few people questioned on the Korean-
ness of Yoo’s music and himself before the incident? The answer should be found from
the historical relationship among global city, youth culture, and popular music.
Throughout the mechanisms of colonialism, Third World cities were postmodern
and multicultural long before migrations to the First World brought forth similar cultural
differences there (Sassen, 1996; Saldanha, 2002). Due to the colonial history of Korea,
from mediascape to econoscape, the omnipresent Western or American culture has been
staple since the very first establishment of media and popular culture. Because youth are
the ones most involved in translating tradition, and translating tradition in the Third
World means coming to terms with the presence of the West, Yoo’s multicultural image
is accepted without much resistance by youth in Korea. His culturally and economically
versatile abilities, however, were suddenly transformed when the power of nation-state
intervened in the politics of identity. Once praised his combination of global
competencies and traditional values was even more criticized as a pre-planned strategy to
dodge his duty of military service. This criticism is based on what Bendle (2002) defines
as ‘politics of victimhood,’ a phenomenon in which one’s hidden injury becomes the
ground for a claim of valued identity. It is based on the idea that experience is embedded
within our sense of belonging, i.e., identity. This victimhood is represented through an
odd form of ritual, as Durkheim (1995) puts it, in which the use of commemorative


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