Posted by : KPopRanter July 13, 2013

Confessions of a K-Pop Fangirl

A few years ago, with almost every female idol release in K-Pop, you would see school-related costumes, pigtails and of course, that killer aegyo. however, nowadays, that's a different story, recent female idol releases being accompanied by pole-dancing, white 
underwear and those unforgettable camel toes.
With the ever-changing and increasing sexualization of women in the Korean entertainment industry, it's hard not to be either enticed or disgusted with the comebacks, almost all of them consisting of too short clothing, raunchy dancing and over-exposing camera angles.  Thus, the female members of the K-Pop Ranter staff will talk about what they think of the sexiness as well as some specific groups which use the sexy concept.

1st Question: When do you think it started?

Tiffany: Though, the sexy concept has always been around in K-Pop, artists like Lee Hyori and After School (sometimes referred to as The Pussycat Dolls of K-Pop) demonstrating it the most, I believe the whole "let's jump on the bandwagon to a sexy and more mature concept" all started either after Girls' Generation released their 2011 hit song, The Boys, or 4 Minute's HyunA released her 2011 hit song, Bubble Pop, both being far from the norm of what the entertainers usually release and both being popular and respected performers which have the ability to make and conciliate trends in the Korean idol market. After their song releases, it seemed like more and more people (even though they weren't exactly stripping or "thirsty for sex") were leaning towards either the mature or the sexy concept by then... I mean, think of it, in 2011, G.Na's 2HOT and Nine Muses's Figaro were released, while the following year SISTAR's AloneSECRET's Poison, T-ara's Sexy Love and even more were released.

Saskia: I think it 'started' long ago, but since Kpop gets influenced more and more with the American 'charm' and they try to get more known out there, they forgot all those things why many people got into Kpop in the first place and just concentrated on being 'sexy' and get America to like them. Does anyone remember RaNia's debut song Dr. Feel Good? It came out even before HyunA's Bubble Pop and since that -more than obvious song about sex- Kpop went for the sexy concept.

2nd Question: What do you think of it?

Tiffany: I think it depends on how the "sexy" is displayed. If you're Brown Eyed Girls (who made a comeback with Recipe, I should add), you're definitely doing it right, however, if you're maybe BESTie who are basically shaking their ass in our face, then I think you might rethink the displaying. To be honest, I feel like sexuality should be exhibited tastefully and like you're not desperately trying to get attention and popularity... like Girls Day Yura's supposed "one-piece tights" which obviously had half her ass on camera.

Andi: I agree with Tiffany and personally I have no problem with the sexy concept. However, there does come a time where I wonder if they are taking it too far with dances that include the ever popular panty shot and skirts that are slowly inching higher, revealing more skin than ever before. Male viewers certainly aren’t complaining and for the most part I’m not complaining either but what about the female fans? I doubt most of the them are pleased with seeing their favorite artists pushing the boundaries with their sexy borderlining on raunchy concepts. Directors and producers have to keep in mind that even though sex sells there’s always a line that when crossed will open up the gates of hell and rain fire upon their artists such as Afterschool who received a good amount of backlash over the pole dance they incorporated into their comeback for First Love.

Jeana: I do agree with what both of Tiffany and Andi pointed out. It is perfectly fine to take on a sexy concept, but what's more important than being sexy is being respectable, and being able to honor yourself and your body. As mentioned, I think sexy concepts sometimes do have their silver lining, because they can emphasize on one's femininity, or masculinity. But first, this whole misconception about what it means to be sexy in KPOP has to be debunked. To some extent, revealing skin does increase one's sexual appeal, be it short skirts for girls and tops off for guys, but beyond these external factors, it is more crucial for the internal appeal to be present too.

Saskia: I agree with everything previously mentioned. It totally depends on how you display it. I know many people who instantly think of sex when they hear 'sexy'. You don't have to wear skirts revealing almost everything or pushing or *cough non-existent cough* boobs and ass into the camera. Sexy is in my opinion jst another word for being fierce and independent

3rd Question: What are the positives and negatives of a sexy concept and name the best and worst ones?

Tiffany: The positives are probably that it gives women a fiercer image and more freedom to express their sexuality... the negatives, though? Most people don't take advantage of that and instead of having a song entitled Female President that actually, well, was about being a female president, you have a song entitled Female President but talking about a girl to kiss a guy first (looking at you, Girls Day). 

Andi: Sexy concepts can add a certain flavor and appeal to idols when done correctly. I’ve seen a number of classy and sensual music videos fully utilizing the idea and executing it perfectly. For instance, 9Muses released their song Wild earlier in the year and though they’ve always had a penchant for more mature concepts, it feels like they’ve finally polished it to a point where it fits them perfectly. Wild looks and feels more refined compared to most of the sexy comebacks of the year. On the other end, some groups have tried to take advantage of the recent trend in sexy comebacks and end up looking frivolous or just plain awkward. Girls Day has been repeatedly been brought up in this article and with good reason. The music video is painful to watch at times, such as the booty shaking dance that makes an appearance repeatedly throughout the song. Not to mention the song was meant to be empowering but ended up being rather weak.

Tiffany: I agree exactly with those examples

Jeana: For me, the positive part about having a sexy concept is that it definitely gets more heads turning, both girls and guys. Yes, lust is definitely one of human's natural guilty desires. But the negative about having a sexy concept is that it's much harder to pull off than, say, a cute concept. You need the attitude, confidence and charisma to be able to do it right, yet not degrade yourself or appear as slutty (well, unless this is the kind of image you go for, that is). So I'll say that the best sexy concepts for me are The Boys by Girls Generation for a girl act and for a boy act, Paradise by Infinite (though this isn't anywhere as good as GG's). GG didn't really show as much skin as many other girl groups out there, and didn't really have many provocative dance moves, but because they exuded so much power on stage, their worth kind of multiplied by 100000000 times.

Saskia: I guess, the whole sexy concept is pretty helpful for getting many views on YouTube and therefore make the group/idol more known. And even if they get a great amount of new fans, the haters and anti-fans already waited for something they can bash about. I think since Hyuna's music video for 'Change' she gets called many mean and nasty things, but since it was pretty popular and other people liked seeing her like this, she used it to her fortune and stayed her 'sex-symbol' concept firm. What I want to say with this is, that out of everything positive comes something negative, and something negative can lead to something positive :p

4th Question: What do you think of the 'Males Right Group' that blocked Dal Shabet for being 'thirsty for sex'?

Tiffany: Seriously, when I first heard about the news, I was questioning the legitimacy of it. But when I found out it was true, I can't help but think: What the hell? Why does South Korea, an extremely misogynistic country, even have a male rights group? Since when were men inferior in the any society? Did I miss that memo?
Plus, out of all of the videos and songs with an underlying, sexual meaning, you try to block this one. How is this against male rights at all? I must've missed the memo when it wasn't okay for women to want the D. What about Hello Venus 'Do you want some Tea?' which is obviously just a cover-up for 'Do you want some V?' Maybe, it's cause Dal Shabet's underlying rape-y message or maybe it's because the MOK are PMSing, but either way, to me, this ban was just plain stupid. I could probably think of dozens of other songs by both women and men which had suggestive meanings but weren't even looked twice at.
P.S. Is this the same group that banned Baek Ji Young's Good Boy because the song 

expressed a man going against a woman’s wishes as ‘barking about,’ or ‘biting his owner.’ The music video actually has dogs in it, as if it is trying to tell the audience that men should be tamed and trained like dogs.

Andi: I actually read the statement issued by Man of Korea and I was quite surprised that they actually made a good point. I also took a closer look at the lyrics for Be Ambitious and found that, though I agree with what Man of Korea are saying, I’m not sure if such drastic measures should be taken. The song talks about how the girls are tired of waiting for their significant other to notice that they are wanting to take their relationship to the next level. Instead of taking initiative and engaging in the act by making the first move, they decide that wearing shorter skirts to show off their legs is the answer and will get it through their partner’s head that they want to have sex. This kind of message is dangerous and insinuates that the man in a relationship is inherently expected to know when their partner is horny whether they are vocal about it or not. [tw: rape] Thinking upon it further, it also perpetuates victim blaming implying that if a girl was sexually assaulted while she was wearing revealing clothes, that must have meant she wanted it. It’s generally hard for me to take anything a men’s rights group has to say seriously but they were actually right for once.

Tiffany: Actually, that's very great insight! However, although Dal Shabet was somewhat at fault because they could have definitely given the song different lyrics (what's weird to me is that the song was apparently self-composed... nasty fantasties from the girls, I suppose) especially being that they were actually forced to change the lyrics once by SBS because of the suggestivity, what I'm really concerned is about legitimacy and proclivity of groups such as these... especially (as mentioned before) songs like Baek Ji Young's Good Boy which wasn't actually... much that bad but was still bitched about by that same group because it supposedly shamed men. And as said by Seoulbeats

 The Men’s Rights Organization seems to be one that gets their manly boxers in a twist whenever something seems to threaten their dominant position in South Korea, which is pretty difficult to swallow in 2012 — especially in South Korea. 

Instead of Baek Ji Young dancing and singing about how much she loved her oppar like the norm, she instead was singing about being in authority in the relationship (which is rare for a female idol group!) and of course, if the partner does something wrong, you have to call them out on it, am I right? Not to mention, Dal Shabet's previous song, Mr. Bang Bang could have been called out for shaming women's authority, power and position by saying

Though I pretend to be strong, I’m still a girl... With confidence, like a man

which is basically saying "Because I'm a girl I can't be strong. Only men have confidence", but it wasn't

Where the hell is the Female of Korea when you need them? Oh, right, probably even them are placed inferior under the men and can barely even voice their opinions towards even the simplest things like songs--South Korea supposedly being the country with the highest gender inequality in the developed world.

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{ 3 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I agree with what most of what you guys said. the sad fact is sex sells and as long as it gets them more views on youtube the labels will keep using it. I do believe that there is a difference between "sexy" and "sexual". the aforementioned SNSD song "the boys" is sexy and they pull of the image, but "female president" , Hyuna's "change" are sexual and even as a guy I find it too much and to be degrading to the girls involved. artists in Kpop are usually given very little control over their image. how they will dress, how they dance, how they sing, what they sing is for the most part under the complete control of the Labels (except for some of well established stars). so take this video of Minah of Girls Day, performing on the street before their debut do you think that she knew what she was in for when she signed with her label? as you mentioned the industry has changed greatly over the past couple of years.

  2. I don't think K-pop is any more "sexual" today than it was back in 2009/2010. The only reason we're talking about it right now is because of a few recent comebacks that were considered overly-sexual by some.

    Remember - 2009 featured Kara's "butt dance" (one of the most overtly sexual choreographies in K-pop history), 2010 had Hyuna's 'Change' (pelvic thrusting being the main part of the choreo), Rainbow's 'A' (teasing their shirts up as if they are undressing), Sistar's 'How Dare You' (with lots of butt-slapping), etc. All of those performers have gone with comparatively more conservative concepts in the last year or so.

    I'm sure Minah knew what she was signing up for. In fact, the original Girl's Day concept was a lot closer to "sexual" than "cute":

    I'll bet you that most of these girls enjoy playing "sexy" more than they like doing the aegyo shit. They don't enjoy the slut-shaming that sometimes comes with it, but that's a problem with their misogynistic society. They don't deserve any shit for it.


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