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The Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies - Vol. 64 , No. 4

[ Article ]
Korean Journal of Journalism & Communication Studies - Vol. 64, No. 4, pp.471-499
Abbreviation: KSJCS
ISSN: 2586-7369 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Aug 2020
Received 11 Jun 2020 Revised 27 Jul 2020 Accepted 04 Aug 2020

‘코리아부(Koreaboo)’ : BTS Universe가 미운 퍼즐 한 조각
원용진* ; 방희경** ; 이준형*** ; 마리사 럭키****
*서강대학교 커뮤니케이션학부 교수 (
**서강대학교 국제한국학선도센터 연구교수 (
***서강대학교 신문방송학과 박사수료 (
****서강대학교 신문방송학과 석사과정 (

Koreaboo, a Missing Piece of the BTS Universe Puzzle
Yong-jin Won* ; Huikyong Pang** ; Jun-hyung Lee*** ; Marisa Luckie****
*Professor, Sogang University (
**Research Porfessor, Sogang University, corresponding author (
***Ph.D. Candidate, Sogang University (
****M.A. Student, Sogang University (


이 연구는 K-pop 관련 국내 담론이 그 성공 원인이나 팬덤에 경도되어 있음을 지적하는 데서 시작한다. 우리 연구자들은 문화연구 전통에 기반을 두고 대중문화 연구가 갖는 사회 실천적 측면을 강조하려 했다. 특히 BTS가 ‘모델 마이너리티’라는 ‘아시아계 미국인’에 대한 인종주의적 편견에 영향을 미치고 있다는 담론에 대한 후폭풍으로 등장한 ‘코리아부 Koreaboo’ 현상에 주목했다. 그에 대한 상세한 내용들을 확인하기 위해 K-pop에 열광하는 미국인 팬을 대상으로 서면인터뷰를 실시했고, 다음과 같은 사안들을 발견할 수 있었다. 첫째, 미국 사회의 K-pop 팬들은 자신의 팬덤 행위를 정당화하고 의미 있는 문화 실천임을 강조하기 위해 코리아부 원리를 작동시키고 그와 거리를 두는 실천을 벌이고 있었다. 이는 미국 사회에서 아시아 문화를 향유하는 데에 여전히 그와 같은 해명이 필요하다는 점을 보여준다. 둘째, 아시아인을 대상으로 한 인종주의적 차별이 아시아적인 것을 향유하는 미국인을 향한 간접적인 형태의 차별로 옮겨가고 있었다. 또한 미국 팬들은 한국적인 것과 다른 아시아적인 것을 구분해내고 그들 간의 차이를 구축하는 작은 움직임을 보여주었다. 우리는 BTS Universe에 이 같은 문화실천과 변화를 포함시킨 이 연구가 대중문화연구에 사회적 맥락에 관심을 두는 문화연구 전통을 상기시키는 계기가 되길 희망한다.


With the group’s worldwide popularity, BTS has not only changed the scope of the Korean public's imagination, but has also had a remarkable effect on the academic field of popular culture studies. Studies on popular culture have greatly expanded their research topics and subjects. However, because existing studies have limited their focus to fandom phenomena and audience communities, they have not been able to expand the social imaginaries that could evolve into driving forces for social change. This study therefore begins with a criticism of existing studies, which have been primarily focused on identifying the causes of BTS’s and K-pop’s global success rather than considering social implications. Following the tradition of cultural studies, this study concentrates on the social changes driven by K-pop’s transnational communication. In particular, this study focuses on the media discourse of how BTS’s explosive popularity has affected change in racism in the United States. With their attractive looks, individuality, and sociability, BTS is considered to have played a role in modifying racial prejudice against Asian Americans, who are often referred to as the “model minority” and defined by terms like “smart,” “good at math,” “asexual,” “unsociable,” and “nerdy.” However, this study seriously questions if racial prejudice against Asian Americans is truly disappearing in American society. What was discovered was not the end of racial prejudice, but rather a newly emerging practice of discrimination called the “Koreaboo” phenomenon. By conducting interviews with American K-pop fans about the phenomenon, this study found that the word “Koreaboo” was coined to degrade a subsection of American K-pop fandom. It was also found that most American K-pop fans attempt to justify their fandom activity by referring to themselves as “normal” or “authentic” K-pop fans, different from “Koreaboos”, who they believe fetishize Korea, Korean language, and Korean culture. Based on these findings, this study makes the following conclusions. First, American K-pop fans’ compulsion to distinguish between authentic fans and Koreaboos is a telltale sign that racism against Asians still exists in the U.S. and that consuming Korean popular culture is still viewed as irregular or strange. Second, racial discrimination against Asians is shifting from a direct form to an indirect form. Up until recently, Asian Americans were directly discriminated against based on their skin color, but now African Americans, Caucasians, or Latin Americans who are enthusiastic about Asian culture are also discriminated against based on their tastes. Racial discrimination also seems to be transforming into a more subdivided form of ethnic discrimination. While in the past, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino people were all classified under the blanket category of “Asian”, Americans have now begun to differentiate Korean popular culture from that of other Asian countries. By focusing on the “Koreaboo” phenomenon, which has been previously excluded from academic discourse related to the Korean Wave (Hallyu) and the BTS Universe, the authors of this study ultimately attempt to revive “the social” and “the historical” within cultural studies tradition.

Keywords: Koreaboo, Racism, Ethnic Discrimination, Fandom, BTS
키워드: 코리아부, 인종주의, 종족주의, 팬덤, BTS

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