A Music Monday on a Wednesday?! That’s right folks!
Not long ago Generasian was informed about a new K-pop style band to debut in early January that do not feature any Korean members. The group was initially formed in the Spring of 2016 and since then, have released their first two songs “Nolja Let’s Party” and “Luv/Wrong” (the song featured above). They have been interviewed by various media outlets including the Huffington Post Korea, Washington Post, and Vice. Although, EXP began as a relatively innocent research project the overall response, as seen on social media, has been overwhelmingly negative.
When the creator of the group, Bora Kim, was asked by Vice whether the work she was doing would be considered cultural appropriation, she answered that her project “is cultural appropriation and racially charged.” Then, she continued on to say that, “mimicking the physical appearance of Koreans is not cultural appropriation. That act is the performing/reenacting of an ignorant stereotype not to be confused with the appropriation of cultures.”
Bora Kim discusses further in Vice that EXP was formed to raise the question of what it actually means to appropriate culture and she asks “Does the concept of cultural appropriation shift when applied to pop music, a very specific and accessible cultural channel?” He project also challenges the idea of Asian masculinity:
“On a global level, Asian masculinity as a concept has been equated to being feminine, weak, nerdy, and asexual. K-pop boy bands still have those qualities, but because of the capital and the glamorization that is inherent to the commercial pop industry, all these characteristics become attractive and desirable. We wanted to experiment and play with this idea by teaching our boys how to act and embody what it means to act like K-pop boy bands. For example, we held something we called “Cuteness Workshop” and saw how they interpreted foreign cultural cues that interfered with their own ideas of masculinity.” (Bora Kim)
My question to you is: How do you feel about EXP? Is it breaking the barriers of the K-pop industry and challenging the ideas that Bora Kim and her team are targeting or something entirely different? I would love to hear what everyone has to say!
Thank you and hope you all have a great Wednesday!