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K-Pop Male Androgyny, Mediated Intimacy, and Vietnamese Fandom

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Mobile Media and Social Intimacies in Asia

Abstract

This chapter explores the Vietnamese fandom of Korean popular culture in relation to the recent developments in mobile and social media. It particularly looks into the Facebook-based fan communities of K-Pop star G-Dragon to examine fan receptions of his androgynous look. It attends to the specific way that K-Pop elements—such as androgyny for example—work with the digital fabrics in affecting emotional realms of fans in socio-geographically dispersed contexts. I argue that with the affordances of mobile media and Facebook, mediated androgynous K-Pop male idols engender a range of feelings and emotions within fan communities at both individual and collective levels. I also argue that it is through these feelings and emotions that fan intimacies are generated and altered. The findings I present provide a nuanced account of what is not adequately explained about the role of social and mobile media in the transnational success of K-Pop. This chapter offers a ‘microscope’ through which emotions are uncovered and intimacies are revealed through a particular case study of Vietnamese fan communities, adding often-overlooked nuances to the wider picture of K-Pop fandom. Furthermore, the chapter provides more examples and insights for the emerging studies of the affective fabrics of digital cultures. It shows how K-Pop fandom is a fascinating site at which we can examine how emotions and feelings can become intensified, contagious, and then achieve their collective dimension in the digital world.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A fan sign is an event where idols offer their signatures to fans, often to promote their newly released products like music albums, singles, movies, concerts, books, etc. Fan sign events are different from fan meetings that are organised at a larger scale with more activities than signing.

  2. 2.

    ‘Korean Wave’ or ‘Hallyu’ is a term coined by the Chinese media in the middle of 1998 to delineate the sudden craze among Chinese youth for Korean cultural products. ‘Hallyu’ literally means ‘flow of Korea’.

  3. 3.

    This fan site’s posts are often re-posted or referenced by Vietnamese Facebook fan pages.

  4. 4.

    ‘Aegyo’ culture in Korea and the equivalent ‘kawaii’ culture in Japan refer to a cute display of affection often expressed, but not limited to, through childlike voices, facial expressions and bodily gestures.

  5. 5.

    CL was the leader of the now-disbanded girl group, 2NE1 – label mate of Big Bang. CL is well-known for her feminist image.

  6. 6.

    Oppa means older brother and unnie means older sister in Korean.

  7. 7.

    G-Dragon is called by many names that are variations and translations of ‘G-Dragon’ such as ‘GD’, ‘G’ (in English) and ‘Gờ’, ‘Rồng’, ‘Long’ (Vietnamese equivalents for Dragon), to name a few.

  8. 8.

    The English word ‘bias’ is a commonly used slang by fans to indicate his/her most favourite member in a K-Pop band.

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Acknowledgement

This chapter is from my ongoing doctoral thesis. I would like to thank my supervisors, Distinguished Professor Ien Ang, Emeritus Professor David Rowe, and Associate Professor Anna Pertierra for their comments on the first draft of this chapter.

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Correspondence to Ha Hoang .

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Hoang, H. (2020). K-Pop Male Androgyny, Mediated Intimacy, and Vietnamese Fandom. In: Cabañes, J.V.A., Uy-Tioco, C.S. (eds) Mobile Media and Social Intimacies in Asia. Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1790-6_12

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