Hallyu across the Desert: K-pop Fandom in Israel and Palestine

Nissim Otmazgin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Irina Lyan, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Fans at the iKpop gathering in Tel Aviv, May 16, 2013. Photo by Amit Sha'al.
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This study examines the role that fan communities in Israel and Palestine play in the transcultural dissemination of Korean popular music, or “K-pop.” Based on in-depth interviews with fans, a survey of K-pop online communities, discourse analysis of online discussions, and participation in K-pop gatherings, this article examines the practice of K-pop, its localization and institutionalization, and its influence on the identities of fans. Special attention is given to the role of K-pop fans as cultural mediators who create necessary bridges between the music industry and local consumers and thus play a decisive role in globalizing cultures. Typically, literature on the globalization of popular culture either utilizes a top-down approach, depicting powerful media industries as making people across the world consume their products, or emphasizes a bottom-up resistance to the imposition of foreign cultures and values. This article suggests that popular culture consumption not only changes the lives of a few individuals but that these individuals may themselves play a decisive role in connecting globalized culture with local fandom.

Keywords: K-pop, Hallyu, Israel, Palestine, Middle East, fandom

Click here to watch a video of patrolling Israeli soldiers who were invited in to join the dancing at a Palestinian village wedding in the summer of 2013. The music? "Gangnam Style."