Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan

John Lie, University of California, Berkeley
Ad for a manga on Japanese fans of the Korean Wave. Source: http://kc.kodansha.co.jp/.
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Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was the global pop music and video sensation of 2012, but it failed to go viral in Japan. The involuted nature of the Japanese popular music industry—especially the imperative of indigenization—stunted the song’s dissemination. Simultaneously, the song failed to resonate with its potential base of Japanese K-pop fans, who valorized beauty and romance. In making sense of the Japanese reception of “Gangnam Style,” the author also analyzes the sources of both the Korean Wave and the anti–Korean Wave in Japan.

Keywords: Japan, South Korea, popular culture, Korean Wave, K-pop, J-pop, anti–Korean Wave, gender, subculture, popular music, soap opera, Internet, virality, cultural globalization