What is sexualisation of females in the K-pop music industry?

 What is sexualisation of females in the K-pop industry?

Sexualisation of females in the K-pop industry ichhori.com

The world of K-pop music is an ever growing full-fledged industry which was worth $578m as of 2019. And even as of today, the Korean pop industry is doming the world music industry with it’s music and bands like BTS who is considered to be the biggest boy band in the whole of universe and BLACKPINK who is considered to be the biggest girl group in the world with both of them achieving many feats daily.
Ever since the emergence of the Hallyu (Korean wave) in the 1990s the country’s (South Korea) net worth has been growing through the spread of it’s music and dramas. In the year 2018, the South Korean Music market experienced a 17.9% increase in revenue growth, which is stated as the shift from ‘potential’ to ‘power play’.
The female or girl k pop bands have become a global phenomenon and they are not only appreciated for their music and lyrics but also because of their beauty, stunning visuals along with choreography, and amazing melodies. There is not only BLACKPINK who is famous for their music but we also have some other amazing girl k pop groups that have and are still producing amazing music for their fans.
But being a female Korean pop artist is not easy as they have to face various while maintaining their position in the industry, and some of the problems that these females in k pop bands have to go through are as follows:
  • Objectification of women.
  • The difference in the pay.
  • Have to maintain a perfect and clean image (even male korean pop idols have to maintain clean image but women are usually trolled more than men if something goes wrong).
  • Double standards where being a part of girl k pop group you are not left off the hook if you make any sexist comment but men are.
  • Can’t date (same for males as well because fans prefer artists who are single rather than engaged).
  • Perfect body, skin, and hair, everything which gave rise to number of cosmetic surgeries in South Korea. Beauty comes out as one of the first points that is taken into consideration during the selection process of the members. 
  • Issues of security, they often receive threats as a result of callousness of their fans. 
Out of all the things or problems mentioned above one thing that stands out the most is the fact that the female artists in k-pop groups are sexualized as they are always asked to behave, dress in a certain manner, they are expected to be bold sexy and also cute at the same time which will show their softer sides as idols.

Sexualisation in the Korean pop industry is a very prominent thing and can be applied on both males and females, although it can very clearly be seen that the female idols are sexualised more than their male counterparts.
Female Korean band idols are sexualised based on their tight clothing, exposure of skin, provocative gestures, their dance performances, and their lyrics as well. Korean culture has always made sure that their females are portrayed as kawaii (cute) in their dramas or even in general but when it comes to it’s ever blooming music industry it changes because everyone knows that sex sells and it can be seen from the music culture in America and it can be said that Korean Pop music has followed suit.
Although a huge difference can be seen when the male idols in any Korean band are not criticized for being shirtless in their MVs or even when in front of their fans but even if something similar like that is done by female idols they are criticized for being very bold and sexy, which is usually not liked by the fans. 
The MVs of female K – pop groups are made sexier where the idols along with their back up dancers are made to wear revealing clothes, to gain the attention of the male fans. For example, the music video of HyunA, a solo Korean pop idol named Lip and Hip, the singer is seen wearing a long jacket that flares up every time she does a hip roll, not only that the background dancers in the music video are also seen wearing very revealing clothes to gain male attention and even when one will watch the video, they can notice that more attention is given to her boobs, and other feminine parts that will make the video and gestures look sexier. 

Reasons why female K – pop idols are made to look sexier or sexualised?
  • To carter to the male gaze.
  • To achieve a sexier as well as a aegyo look that satisfies both the American and Asian definition of women.
  • And most importantly ‘sex sells’.
One can clearly notice that the act of sexualizing women or females in K pop music has a long history and it has been going on since long. Since long it can be seen that females in a Korean band have portrayed two sides either the bold or sexy side or the shy, cute Asian women but no matter what the female idols were either sexualized or objectified as people who offered sex. Though the female stars have gained the position of idols, they are often staged as dolls to prove Korea’s naturally unattainable beauty standards. 

A 2012 New Yorker article states the K – pop female idols as ‘Factory Girls’ which portrays female K – pop idols as manufactured objects because of how perfect they are in their every appearance on and off camera. Female K – pop singers are presented as sexualised, innocent dolls with lots of aegyo (Korean word for aww) that titillates misogynistic fans.
One of the big reasons why the South Korean talent or entertainment agencies recruit teenagers of age not more than 12 - 15 is the fact that these ladies will soon hit puberty and thus can be trained in a certain manner to appear as sexy and kawaii idols to garner to the needs and gain the attention of the young males as well as that of those older men with lots of money.
To present the whole idea of the sexualisation of the females in k pop groups in the Korean music industry can be explained in a few simple words as that the female idols are expected to be Virgin Mary prototypes with a sexual appeal. 

Although the times are changing and so are the perspectives’ and now with the rise of the newer girl groups like BLACKPINK, Mamamoo, and many more, they are the one who even after representing a sexual side on screen with their energetic performances also make sure to show that they are filled with lot of oomph and confidence. And one can only hope that these representation of the female K – pop idols as sexual dolls would soon change and they would achieve a place where they would be identified for their own personal type and not just as sexy. 


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