Breakaway 6 – “JPOP, KPOP, and Boy Bands”: A Rant by Dr. Penn


We do a quick breakaway this week on a fun topic – boybands! Why is J-Pop and K-Pop so globally popular? What’s the difference between American, Japanese, and Korean boybands anyway? K-Pop is known for their perfectly choreographed and intricate dancing with pitch perfect singing; while J-Pop aims to be your boyband next door. But you might be surprised to learn that they arose out of very different sociopolitical contexts! Each genre has quite an interesting history in relation to trade, economy, and globalization. We discuss the idea of soft power, and how various industries use their cultural products to become a cultural force around the world.


You can find the transcript for this episode here. Huge mahalo to Elena for transcribing yet another episode! You are awesome! 

Boybands, consumption, popular culture, JPop, Kpop


  1. BTS – one of the currently most popular K-Pop group
  2. K-Pop Group BTS Wins 2019 TIME 100 Reader Poll
  3. BTS’ UN speech in 2018
  4. BTS’ DNA – their most watched music video as of April 2019
  5. Soft Power” article by Joseph Nye (for the book, see here)
  6. SMAP – one of Japan’s most famous boybands
  7. SMAP’s “Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana” – one of their most famous songs

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