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Amber Liu, K-Pop Tomboy: Reshaping Femininity in Mainstream K-Pop

Paola Laforgia, Keith Howard


South Korean mainstream pop music, known simply as K-Pop, has become such a huge phenomenon in recent years that it is playing a decisive role in reshaping Korean culture and identity. Indeed, the K-Pop phenomenon is much more than just something musical, intertwining a complexity of sound, performance, ethnicity and gender. A contextual analysis needs therefore to take all these elements into consideration. This paper aims to show how K-Pop plays a crucial role in promoting ideologies, and defining gender roles. It does so by analyzing the music and image of the Taiwanese-American originating singer Amber Liu. Liu goes against the standard gender identification and behavior that Korean society imposes on women, and by doing so she can be said to represent a shift in the portrayal and performance of femininity through K-pop. But, how is her gender behavior tolerated, and to what extent is this a stage behavior required and promoted by her management company as a way to mark out difference?


Femininity; Gender; K-Pop; Mainstream Music; South Korea

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2017.02910