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6 - Embodying K-Pop Hits through Cover Dance Practices

from Part III - Dancing to K-Pop

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2023

Suk-Young Kim
University of California, Los Angeles
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Singing along has aided songs to gain wide geographic distribution and popularity. In the case of K-pop, singing along is hampered by the lack of language skills. However, a key component of K-pop’s success has been the visual – music videos that feature beautiful stars and trending fashions – and, perhaps most of all, a prominent dance component. Fans from around the world have been moved to interact with K-pop by substituting dancing along for singing along. The barrier to participation is low – cover dancers benefit from a song and choreography created by other artists. While some dancers only practice, without uploading videos or performing, others attract viewers to private subscriptions for access to full videos and interactions with the dancers. Fans perform dances for crowds, upload them online, enter cover contests, and even develop new careers. They can become quite well known, their videos drawing millions of views. Just like the K-pop idols, the Korean government supports these activities. This chapter outlines the variety of cover dance activities, investigates the motivations of cover dancers using interview data, discusses the implications for cultural diplomacy, outlines the economy of K-pop cover dance, and touches on the ways it contributes to learning about Korea.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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