Korea

Organized Panel Session

3 - Intersecting Identities of Female Rock Musicians in Korea

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Madison B, Mezzanine Level

As in many underground rock scenes, women are the minority of performers in Seoul. During my participant observation research on the intercultural interactions at performances with Korean and foreign musicians, I have been able to observe the ways that the intersectional identities of female performers in this cultural context create unique barriers to entry and success. This paper will examine the experiences of three representative female musicians in the Korean music scene to show that the intersections of race, gender, and relationship status play a role in their ability to make the social connections necessary to be a successful performer. The first musician, a young, single Korean female, illustrates the issues with sexual harassment and assault that young women face, and how female musicians are assumed to be more sexually available. The second musician is a slightly older single white female, whose band became known for their feminist rhetoric and imagery that stemmed from issues of sexism she and her bandmates experienced in Korea. Finally, I will discuss the experiences of a female Korean musician married to a mixed race American man, who is also a musician. The ways that her socializing changed, and the ways they didn’t, show the effect that relationship status has in shifting social relations in the scene. Within each of these stories, I will also examine the differences in behaviors of foreign and Korean men, and the ways that the different overlapping identities of the people involved can shape the outcome of social interaction. 

Kendra Van Nyhuis

University of California, Berkeley, California

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