People worldwide have been more vigilant when it comes to identifying the factors that are being appropriated by other cultures. One of the issues that have come to the attention in relation to cultural appropriation is noted in the music industry. In this area, music artists utilize other music artists’ styles in music without recognition of its historical importance that is particular to that culture. These factors may include concepts in music, a person’s preference in fashion, the food someone eats, neighborhoods, crime, and how language is used. With this in mind, Korean-pop appropriation and exploitation of historical Black music in the United States without recognition of facts has become an issue. In this example, K-pop artists have been noted for the use of Black music concepts, behavior, and language without recognition of its importance to Black artists for self-fame and fortune. Thus, because of this cultural appropriation by K-pop artists, the idea of exploitation has come to be questioned.
To further explain the concept of cultural appropriation, there is a need to define it. Cultural appropriation is the ignorance or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas from other marginalized groups, particularly groups who have even less social or economic power with the purpose of exploiting the culture for economic or social gain, provides the premise for a deeper dive into an oppressed societal structure, unfair practices in economic gains and cultural exploitation. Further, the literature suggests that culture’s appropriation has led to inaccurate depictions of cultures, negative stereotypes, and plagiarism of popular culture and music without attribution. The concept of appropriation and the misuse of power in societal and economic realms have contributed to increasing conflict within cultural subsets. This, in turn, not only undermines cultural relevance, but it is exploitative of subordinated groups.
In a similar manner, cultural exploitation denotes the taking of elements of an oppressed society by a dominant culture without equal exchange, consent, or remuneration. In instances in which cultural exploitation is evident, the lack of choice or control is prominent. Often, the dominant political strength and economic influence render the sending culture powerless. Governments utilize their power to subjugate oppressed societies into submission, such as imposing organized religion on ethnic groups who otherwise may not have subscribed to the dominant culture religious viewpoints. Cultural exploitation can be further observed in current social occurrences as well. As racial tensions continue to escalate in modern society, cultural exploitation permeates in music and fashion. Lyrics and genres, such as hip hop, have met with controversy and hostility. Hip-hop artists, writers, and producers continue to combat the challenges of foreign companies’ misuse of the genre for economic gain without appropriate attribution or respect.
Regarding the cultural appropriation and exploitation of music, Black music artists have endured misused of their music concept by other cultures. African Americans are credited with developing not only hip hop but also jazz, blues, and rock and roll. Artists like Muddy Waters, Skip James, and Howlin’ Wolf are noted for their significant contributions to the music industry. While these and many other Black artists have received recognition for their contributions to the music industry in the United States, other artists have received negative publicity for exploiting Black artist’s music. One group, in particular, is K-pop artists who have utilized popular parts of hip hop culture and music yet do not understand the implications of racism and oppress black artists have been through. American hip-hop has been portrayed with exaggeration and stereotypes of Black Americans, such as “gangstas” and rowdy behavior. In addition, their body movements and clothing accessories are exaggerated to portray a hardcore gangster look. K-pop artists managed to adapt and modify this portrayal of American hip-hop culture to be more toned down for their own style in K-pop.
The idea that K-pop appropriation of Black music is a single-minded idea created by the artists themselves seems to be multifactorial in the application. Korean music industry moguls are actively soliciting to collaborate in hip hop influenced Korean music, yet do not compensate inadequately to artists who represent the genre. There are numerous successful songs in K-pop that have been written and produced by Black Americans. However, despite K-pop being heavily reliant on hip hop and black culture, they give little to no support towards black lives. Korean music companies would look for inspiration from the west and take anything that can be useful in appealing to the audience. Coincidentally, they took an interest in black culture and attempted to take anything from it without giving them the credit they deserved.
K-pop culture and music has continued to benefit economically without providing the appropriation to the hip hop genre’s culture and history. South Korea has been notorious for taking things from what they have observed and adapting it into their own style. In fact, various artists in the industry have been lucky enough to get away with appropriating black hip hop culture, yet can have detrimental outcomes. Despite artists such as BTS and CL being greatly favored internationally, their tendency to appropriate black culture and remix the hip hop genre can lead to tension with other hip hop artists. Consequently, this can lead to economic, social, and political ramifications.
Despite controversy and inequities which continue to persist, there also is a movement promoting inclusivity, respect, and understanding of other cultures. Education is crucial in comprehending the differences in appropriation and appreciation. In appreciating cultural or cultural appreciation, one honors and values another culture and its customs as a way to gain awareness and respect. Whereas if practices or use of cultural items exploits another culture or reaps, the economic gain may be perceived as appropriation. Misuse of items such as chopsticks other than for eating can be deemed as appropriation. Cultural appreciation allows for deep-rooted respect, in instances where there is a genuineness to appreciate other ethnic groups, asking permission to use cultural things, utilizing the object specifically as they are intending, researching the culture, asking questions, and acknowledging the limitations in knowing the culture.
Dreher, B. (2019, October 24). Here’s What ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Actually Means – and Why It’s Wrong. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g28400114/cultural-appropriation-definition-examples/
Luna, E. D. (2020, July 20). ‘They use our culture’: The Black creatives and fans holding K-pop accountable. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/20/k-pop-black-fans-creatives-industry-accountable-race
Oh, C. (2014, September 23). Performing Post-Racial Asianness: K-Pop’s Appropriation of Hip-Hop Culture: Congress on Research in Dance Conference Proceedings. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/congress-on-research-in-dance/article/performing-postracial-asianness-kpops-appropriation-of-hiphop-culture/A494315072BD5609BB1B19AC8C19D0B2
There would be no K-pop without cultural appropriation. Is that bad? (2018, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/culture/music/article/2168815/k-pop-ultimate-cultural-appropriation-or-south-korea-improving?utm_source=email&utm_medium=share_widget&utm_campaign=2168815
Rogers, R. A. (2006, November). From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation: A Review and
Reconceptualization of Cultural Appropriation [PDF]. file:///C:/Users/Jet2019/Downloads/