Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

EI: P-Pop and K-Pop

In Opinion | Opinyon, Personal Essay | Personal na Sanaysay on January 30, 2011 at 4:31 am

Email interview ng grupo nina jennifer.dullano@yahoo.com ng University of Santo Tomas (UST) tungkol sa P-Pop. Enero 14, 2011.


Good day, Sir Mykel! Salamat po sa pagpayag na matulungan po kami sa aming thesis (“What is P-Pop? : A Comparative Analysis on the Determining Cultural Derivation of XLR8 and Pop Girls’ Music from K-Pop groups Super Junior and Wonder Girls”). Eto po yung mga questins po namin na gusto po sana naming ipasagot sa inyo. Maraming salamat po sa inyong panahon.


Mga sagot ko:


1. How do you define pop culture?

Popular culture or pop culture is invented by a dominant economic system known as capitalism, whose ultimate goal is to gain profit or “super-profit” by establishing financial oligarchies and by expanding geographical and economic territories via violent conquests. Capitalism also acquires its super-profit by not paying its workers real-time compensation for real-time labor. Historically, capitalism has utilized all forms and persuasions to advance its purpose of achieving stratospheric profits, thereby widening the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. It has and is using the cultural terrains of various groups and peoples to gain profits. Thus the invention of popular culture as a synthetic, artificial and mainstream culture peddled to the people.


Needless to say, popular culture is a product of capitalists, for the very reason of selling cultural products to favor the ruling classes, atop are the capitalists. And because capitalism is such a dominant system, it has been dominating our lives and has been “normativizing” pop culture as a “true, genuine, and mass culture.” Which, of course, is very ironic, since pop culture does not emerge from the masses or general populace; on the contrary, popular culture is “popularized” by mainstream capitalist media and is passed off as “popular.” As a matter of fact, the popular culture forced down our throats is the popular culture which carries the thoughts, social class positions, politics and general ideas of capitalists and other ruling classes.


Pop culture did not “normally” or “naturally” develop as a culture coming from the people. Pop culture is a clear product of capitalist machinations. In common parlance, pop culture products are advertised and packaged, thereby eviscerating illusory thoughts or notions of normality and normativity.

Please refer to the following Filipino authors for further clarification on the discourse of popular culture: Bienvenido Lumbera, Soledad Reyes, and Rolando Tolentino. In particular, read Rolando Tolentino’s book Sa Loob at Labas ng Mall Kong Sawi, Kaliluha’y Siyang Nangyayaring Hari, which is a book on popular culture.


2. Is K-Pop a fad or fashion?

This is a very dangerous line of thought. For one, it should be clarified that the terms “fad” and “fashion” are both capitalist inventions, to refer to styles or trends in popular culture. When we actually ask if Korean Pop or K-Pop is a fad or fashion, we actually need to be illuminated that if K-Pop has become a fad and a fashion, it is because its capitalist creators have triumphed in selling it to the general public, which it considers as its clientele. Therefore, we should instead ask, “Who said that K-Pop is a fad and a fashion?”


K-Pop is both a fad and a fashion. It’s a fad because after much capitalist packaging and capitalist maneuvering, K-Pop has become a “trend” in the lives of a group or groups belonging to the general masses and has spewed crazes and the like. It is also a fashion, since it has become a kind of “lifestyle” or “practice,” again, after much capitalist packaging and manipulation.


3. Why did K-Pop boom in the Philippines?

K-Pop boomed in the Philippines because compradors or capitalist networks, such as ABS-CBN and GMA, have imported K-Pop and have bombarded the general audience with products such as Korean television shows, music, fashion, and the like. The capitalistic success of K-Pop in the Philippines is brought about, largely, by capitalist networks’ aggressive mass media campaign, in particular, advertising and sponsorship contests. Because of this aggressive campaign, Filipinos grew acquainted with K-Pop and were all of a sudden familiar with it. Thus, K-Pop was manufactured and sold as “popular” culture to the Filipinos.


4. What are the similarities of the Korean and Filipino culture which enabled K-Pop to be easily popularized locally? 5. Do you think K-Pop really has the power to create a “new culture” in the local arena? 6. How did Filipinos adopt these certain cultural changes and love them? 7. What are the channels which allowed K-Pop to be widely spread?

First of all, it should be highlighted that the “Korean” in K-Pop is actually “South Korean” and not “North Korean.” Socio-politically, South Korea is a capitalist nation, while North Korea is a socialist nation. So the K-Pop that Filipinos are ingesting hails from capitalist South Korea. This is important in analyzing the triumph of K-Pop in the Philippines. The connection of the Philippines and South Korea is that these are countries both influenced by the capitalist power of the United States of America, otherwise known as United States imperialism (the highest stage of capitalism). So what K-Pop indulges the general public is to believe in capitalism, and not in socialism, which is a more progressive and more humane economic system.


Again, it is a matter of capitalistic manufacturing. It should be noted that Korean and Filipino cultures are largely different, even though both are Asian countries. Their religions, languages, cultural practices are largely different. Though, we may say, there are certain cultural fields that are similar or near-similar, like close family ties, romantic and sexual love, etc.


But what actually enabled K-Pop to be locally popular is capitalist intervention. Local business corporations, especially in the field of television and multi-media, have imported K-Pop in order to sell this to the Philippine market. What local capitalists did is to “translate” and “adapt” these Korean “sensations” to fit the cultural and “class” taste of the Filipinos. How do they do it? They do it by “Filipinizing” Korean capitalist aspirations. This means that the capitalist logic of K-Pop is re-invented in the Philippine context. This is what you call “co-optation.” This is a capitalist process whereby cultures are used by capitalist corporations, turned into cultural products, and sold to the paying public.


Class consciousness plays a very large part, if not the largest part, in the triumph of K-Pop in the Philippines. What have been ultimately linked are the class aspirations created by capitalism for both South Koreans and Filipinos. Thus, when watching and listening to K-Pop, the audience is bombarded with first-world dreams of becoming international singers, of working in the capitalist industry of the advertising world, of cladding one’s body with “esoteric” or “halu-halo” fashion and other flashy images; these are all done in the “art” of capitalistic packaging.


8. How would you explain the creation of P-Pop?

Pinoy or Philippine Pop or P-Pop is clearly an offshoot of K-Pop. It is really easy to see the connection. Members of P-Pop groups look like Koreans, physically. Add to that the mimicking of the distinct Korean pop, artsy hairstyle and layered clothing. It clearly derives its origin from the glam-pop of South Korea’s mainstream music and multi-media industries.


9. Would you say that P-Pop can be regarded as pop culture or as a trend? Is it here to stay? 10. Does P-Pop reflect a Filipino identity? If no, will it eventually create its own identity?

It all depends if local capitalists will continue to promote P-Pop. But needless to say, P-Pop is not something that is here to stay. Since the Philippines is a neo-colony of the United States of America, K-Pop-inspired P-Pop will eventually have to transform or adapt itself to be able to survive as a dominant or influential part of Philippine pop culture. Let’s just say that for P-Pop to survive, it has to perennially re-invent itself, all in the name of profit.


Mykel Andrada. Enero 30, 2011. Iba, QC.