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Korean pop culture experience in spotlight at WKU March 22-23

Sherri Ter Molen, a scholar and researcher on Korean pop culture from Wayne State University, will present “K-poppers for Hilltoppers: The Korean Pop Culture Experience” at 5 p.m. March 22 in the Gary Ransdell Hall Auditorium as part of the Department of Communication’s 2017 Above and Beyond Series and WKU’s International Year of South Korea.

Sherri Ter Molen

Most know of PSY’s music video, “Gangnam Style,” which made headlines in 2012. But how about Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby,” 2NE1’s “I am the Best” or BTS’s “Fire”? Ter Molen will talk about the global spread of Hallyu and its magnetism, especially the popularity of its music groups and videos that mix high-energy Western dance tunes, slick Hollywoodesque visual production qualities and uniquely Korean performance. Hallyu, which means “Korean Wave,” refers to the evolution of K-pop culture and the proliferation of its content via social network services and video sharing platforms, such as YouTube, worldwide.

Following her lecture, the Korean Pop Culture Club and the Korean Student Association will be hosting the “Into the K-World” event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 23 in Downing Student Union to introduce the K-pop experience to the WKU community.

Ter Molen’s research on Korean pop culture has appeared in The Global Impact of South Korean Popular Culture: Hallyu Unbound and The Korean Wave: Korean Popular Culture in Global Context. Her latest study explores the identities of non-Korean fans of Korean culture in the United States. In July 2016, she delivered a presentation on U.S. Hallyu fandom as part of the “Share Your Korea” program, a series sponsored by the Korean Education Center within the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago.

“Every year, the Above and Beyond speaker series, hosted by WKU’s Department of Communication, brings in nationally and internationally known scholars to broaden our knowledge. Sherri Ter Molen brings South Korea home to Kentucky in her lively presentation on its influence on pop culture around the world,” said Dr. Helen Sterk, chair of the Communication Department.

According to Jolene Nguyen, a first-year WKU student and Vice President of the Korean Pop Culture Club, Hallyu is not just a hobby, but “more like a well-developed entertainment culture that deserves recognition and admiration. It shows so much about Korean culture, its people and society, and what they’ve achieved so far.”

Jeyun Park, an instructor of Korean language at WKU, saw first-hand the impact Korean pop culture has on student motivation to learn the Korean language. She said that seeing its impact in her classroom has made her feel proud to be a Korean, and added, “Since the number of people who want to know about Korean culture and Korean language is increasing, I think (Ter Molen’s visit) will be really special and valuable for everybody.”

Contact: Laura Wagoner, (270) 745-3296

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