Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University—n cooperation with CHED-Salikha’s Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures (EPAPC) and the Korean Cultural Center—will host lectures by Alona U. Guevarra and Andrew Ty. The lecture by Guevarra is titled “Hugot K-Pop: Early Explorations on K-style OPM,” while the lecture by Ty is titled “Connecting Flights: Ekphrasis as Intermedial Reference in the WINGS Short Films”; the lectures are on Mar. 5, 2020, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at the Eugenio Lopez Jr. Center for Multimedia Communication (Room 320 Soc. Sci. Building, Ateneo de Manila University). The event is open to the public.

About “Hugot K-Pop: Early Explorations on K-style OPM”

2019 marked the 10th year of the Philippines’ Kpop Con, the biggest and longest running fan-organized gathering of K-Pop fans in the Philippines. One of this gathering’s founders, Kring Eleanzano Kim explained “that the years 2008 and 2009 saw an increased interest in K-Pop [due to] Sandara Park’s debut in 2NE1 and the dangerously catchy ‘Nobody’ by Wonder Girls taking over the airwaves…” (Gloria, 2019). The democratization of South Korea’s politics in the late 20th century coupled with the Korean economic miracle which landed South Korean in the elite G-20 economies have created a fertile musicscape for the creation of what is now known as K-Pop, a distinct genre from the earlier forms of Korean popular music. As the popularity of K-Pop rose across South East Asia (its second largest market following East Asia), criticism against its overt mercantile and neo-colonial aspirations began to surface as K-pop and its umbrella movement, Hallyu became visibly a one-way relationship between South Korea and Southeast Asia, until the late 2010s.

Remarkably, apart from the 10th year anniversary of the Philippines’ KPop Con, 2019 also marked the rise of SB19, a Filipino boy group, trained by a Korean music company following the rigor of K-Pop idol training. SB19 has been receiving growing attention locally and internationally as an example of hybrid music—original Filipino pop music (OPM) hybridized with the template of KPop. Now with over a million views on YouTube for their thirds single, “Alab,” SB19 is moving to a new direction in Filipino consumption of K-Pop, here you have K-style pop with an overtly Filipino identity.

Through a historiography of KPop consumption, reception and influence in the Philippines, this paper provides cursory exploration on the sustainability of such a musical fusion and its ripple effects, if any, to contemporary OPM.

*Hugot according to Urban Dictionary.Com “is a Filipino word which means to draw or pull out.” It usually pertains to words “with potentially and personally deep sentimental or emotional undertones.”

About “Connecting Flights: Ekphrasis as Intermedial Reference in the WINGS Short Films”

The Bangtan Universe is the ever-expanding narrative world created by the intermedial texts that accompany the music produced by South Korean pop group BTS, at least since 2015. Its extensive narrative oscillations have inspired, and continue to inspire, much fan speculation, bridging a multitude of visual texts linked to music released for nearly half a decade.

Recurrent patterns and motifs produce evocative imagery rooted in plots and characters in a large-scale drama too big for a single timeline and medium, most notably in the music and media released for The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (2015-2016) and the Love Yourself eras (2017-2018). The Wings era (2016-2017) stands between these two, but it functions in a way that seems more disjunctive than connective.

The WINGS short films, promotional material for seven solo songs from each BTS member, are recognizably an essential part of the narrative and thematic development of the BU, but also seem oddly detachable from it.  The stark visuals of the films are abstract and atmospheric, to the point of opacity. Each member is solo, given their own audiovisual spaces but at the same time bereft and alone, disconnected from the other members.

Formally, these seven films appear to resist their promotional function and the ongoing BU narrative—perhaps even any attempt at conventional narrativization. They arguably display the BTS members at their most (counter-) cinematically inscrutable, appearing in a concentrated and enumerated set of audiovisual texts that dramatize their inability to cohere.

In this talk, I will demonstrate how examining moments of ekphrasis in these films, instances when other artistic forms and media are displayed, allows us to discern some sort of connective tissue through their intermedial references, rather than the conventional narrative signposts of plot and character. I will discuss how these films initiate questions about art that lead to more ambitious visual inquiries and statements in later music videos, particularly “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” and “Fake Love,” but even “DNA” and “Idol” to some extent.

About Alona U. Guevarra

Alona U. Guevarra is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English of Ateneo de Manila University. She finished her graduate studies at University of the Philippines Diliman. Her current research interests include Murakami Haruki Studies, Hallyu Studies and the contemporary literatures of Japan and Korea.

About Andrew Ty

Andrew Ty has been teaching film and media studies courses at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is currently a PhD candidate at La Trobe University, working on a thesis about multimodal worldbuilding and transmedia narratives in the visual content that accompanies the musical output of South Korean pop group BTS.

About Kritika Kultura

Kritika Kultura is acknowledged by a host of Asian and Asian American Studies libraries and scholarly networks, and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography, Arts and Humanities Citation Index (Clarivate), Scopus, EBSCO, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). For inquiries about submission guidelines and future events, visit http://journals.ateneo.edu/ojs/kk or email kk.soh@ateneo.edu.