Here we go, another signature Seoulbeats post on cultural appropriation. K-pop is certainly no stranger to cultural appropriation, proving over and over again that the Korean music industry is filled to the brim with insensitive jerks who couldn’t care less about world cultures other than distorting them into money-making marketing ploys. This time, they’ve really crossed the line. Stardom Entertainment went as far as to incorporate elements of traditional Korean culture in Topp Dogg‘s latest release, “Arario.” Before I begin my rant, watch the video below if you haven’t already.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ascOzpuacLY]
Where do I even begin? First of all, the traditional garb worn by the female dancers look completely out of place. I understand that they are meant to emulate the hanbok in some fashion, but it looks completely ridiculous without the sleeves. You think that if Koreans were to appropriate their own culture, they’d at least do it right. But the poorly designed “hip-hop inspired” traditional wear comes off as cheesy and downright offensive to those who’d rather see hanboks in a K-drama.
Secondly, the traditional Korean instruments are being totally disrespected by all the EDM and bass. The easy, finesse, and serene sound of the strings are marginalized into loud and plucky “ding” noises when forced to compete with all the electronica. Furthermore, the majestic sound of the percussion is completely drowned out by the overbearing bass. It is a fusion of historical imbalance, symbolic of Western powers (and by Western, I mean a Western-influenced Japanese empire) barging into an isolationist Korean peninsula and forcing the Koreans to pay amity. The embarrassment that comes with such an ass-kicking by a foreign power is exactly how I feel about this song and MV.
It’s not so much that they’re attempting to fuse the traditional with the modern, it is that they are doing it in such a problematic way. Time and again, we’ve discussed the issue of cultural appropriation and why the negatives far outweigh the positives from an international fan’s point of view. Sure, we may be jaded in our perception of what is good or bad. But as die-hard fans, we have the right to speak out when we feel something is insulting to other cultures
because we know better than they do.
And in this case, we will not stand for Koreans insulting their own culture! And just because you happen to be an ethnic Korean who is reading this and don’t feel even a grain of offense from “Arario,” you can’t object to it in the comments because it would be insensitive of you to do so. That’s right, complaining that you are not offended by something that is clearly offensive to others shows that you are being highly insensitive to all the non-Koreans here who are feeling offended on your behalf.
Can’t we all just get along for once?
(YouTube, Images via Stardom Entertainment, MyDaily)