Orientalism and the Kpop/Kdrama Fandom

So I’ve been thinking about Orientalism a lot lately trying to come up with a good idea for this blog post. Then a few nights ago as I was watching a Kdrama it hit me, the Kpop and Kdrama fandom. In few places will you find as much unabashed Orientalism as you will in those fandoms. As someone who loves Kdramas I am all too familiar with it.

Now, before I write anything else I would like to say that I am not bashing on everyone who likes Kpop or Kdramas. The orientalist mindset that I take issue with is not shared by all fans of Kpop or Kdramas, however, it is an issue within these fandoms.

It all comes down to the fact that they seem to see Koreans as completely homogeneous. Logically, one can assume that Koreans are individuals and as individuals are not all going to act like characters in a tv show or a celebrity who has been coached in how to respond to an interview Koreans will not all act that way. Well, according to some Kpop/Kdrama fans you would be wrong.

The problem with seeing an ethnic group that way is that it dehumanizes the members of that group. When you treat people as though they are nothing more than their culture, when you forget the variability of individuals, and when you objectify them, you are not fully recognizing them. That is what I think the core of Orientalism is, the refusal to look at another group with nuance, to other them. Whether the resulting distortion idealizes or demonizes them it is still wrong because it works against mutual recognition.