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6 Essay Questions for Your K-Pop Class

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

I've been contemplating for quite some time the impact of my new K-pop course, particularly on non-Korean students, in terms of understanding the genre. I must acknowledge that Dr. Hae Joo Kim, our former assistant chair in the Professional Music Department at Berklee College of Music, pioneered a unique pedagogical approach to K-pop education.

Unlike traditional music colleges, Berklee offers a curriculum that emphasizes practical skills in performing and producing music. My general courses attract students aspiring to become writers, producers, A&R professionals, and more within the music industry. Recognizing this, I've designed the course to encompass not just performance and cultural studies, but also the business and production aspects of K-pop. To implement this comprehensive approach, establishing a foundational understanding of K-pop as both a cultural phenomenon and a musical genre was essential.

In exploring the history, culture, business, production, and performance aspects of K-pop, I've introduced six key questions to my students. These questions were curated as we discussed each topic with our passionate guest speakers. The fourth question, in particular, stems from my research on K-pop idol training. It's crucial as it not only shapes the students' perception of K-pop but also imparts critical learning aspects of the genre. As we strive to develop the most effective educational content for K-pop, sharing and refining our pedagogical approaches collaboratively can enhance our collective efforts.

  1. Is it possible for music to exist independently of societal, cultural, and economic influences? Consider the creation, consumption, and evolution of music in your discussion.

  2. What factors contribute to K-pop idol groups' aspiration for global expansion and recognition?

  3. Reflecting Psy’s interview with NY Times “I still don't understand why that one song, 'Gangnam Style,' was so special, even though the people who made the music, danced to it, and performed it were all the same,” Is luck a significant factor in achieving success in the music industry? Please explain.

  4. Among the elements that set successful idols apart—1) differentiation from existing idol groups, 2) communication utilizing social media channels, 3) message and authenticity—why are message and authenticity considered more unique compared to the other elements?

  5. Why do you think mental well-being management was included as a part of the Idol training system? Why does it matter to the K-pop industry?

  6. How do you perceive the differences in the production of K-pop compared to other pop music?


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