“KPOP Explained by a Korean” – DKDKTV is expanding the horizon of discourse in KPOP

With BTS expansion in the global music industry, the increased popularity of groups like BlackPink in different countries and the emergence of new groups like Loona and Mamamoo, KPOP is no longer a restricted space.

The concept-laden videos, colloquial references, and pre-determined stage setups have created a void between the international non-Korean fans and the music creators including the artists. Due to the dearth of content that addresses why a certain concept is picked and a particular direction is taken, non-Korean speaking fans are able to grasp only a certain amount of information.

On YouTube, the number of searches for “KPOP” has increased but a lot of videos belong to one of the following categories:

1) Fashion & Beauty Tutorials
2) Dance Tutorials
3) Reaction Videos
4) Random Dance, Memes, and Fan compilation
5) Lyric Videos

If we analyze the list above, there is still a huge scope of a constructive discussion around KPOP. Today, it’s not just the music that attracts the listener but also the choice of certain concepts, the usage of certain characters, and the decisions that showcase the direction an artist might take in the future. In addition to these are the social issues and references that a lot of people are never made aware of.

It seems that Danny and David are trying to fill this void. Danny Kim and David Kim are the minds behind DKDKTV, a YouTube channel that provides content, explaining “KPOP by a Korean”. They create explainer videos, conduct street interviews, share city vlogs, and even talk about the issues that are not usually touched online. One of their popular segments is their lyrics explainer videos. Using the method of deconstruction, Danny and David break down a song and try to explain the significance of the words and phrases used and how they play a role in creating a holistic narrative and conveying the message that the song aims to convey.

Talking about their videos with The Korea Herald, Danny said,

I saw many people on the internet translate the lyrics of K-pop songs. However, the translations often lacked an understanding of the cultural context of the lyrics. Moreover, many times, these incorrect and inaccurate interpretations of the songs would get thousands of retweets on Twitter and people would take them as the answers.

For instance, they did a video on BTS’ song “Spine Breaker”. One of the most underrated songs by the group “Spine Breaker” talks about the lifestyle of young people who slack off from their responsibilities and who do not realize their duties as individuals.

Taking up the problem of “padded jackets” and the growing difference between rich and poor population, DKDKTV explains how BTS is commenting on the present state of their society. The septet is known for their socially conscious narratives but at the same time, fans are aware that their lyrics are full of colloquial references and to understand the nuances, we will need the help of the people who are aware of the local culture.

DKDKTV provides this help. When “Ddaeng” was released, Danny and David’s video helped listeners understand the several meanings behind the word and how each of them is situated within the culture of South Korea. Once the cultural context has been introduced, one cannot listen to the song in isolation because then, people are missing out on the points being made by the artist. Colloquial references can support a mindset, talk against it, or just address it but to appreciate the commentary or discourse, one needs to be aware of the “in and out” of society.

Apart from these explainer videos, the duo also touches upon seemingly sensitive issues that might bring a lot of negative comments and hatred in their direction. While these young men are trying to create a space where people can initiate a constructive discussion without hating the other person, it’s not an easy task.

Fans and some other people who don’t open up their minds to the different angles of a story often finds it difficult to accept a view that is not in the line of their own thought process.

By daring to defy the norms and the attitude of “playing it safe”, DKDKTV is indeed creating a community where 10 people can have 10 different opinions and the readers would still appreciate reading them all because of the thought processes that are revealed. It also helps us realize that even when it seems that a particular topic can have a “singular” opinion, someone can bring a different perspective to the table and we must appreciate it.

For instance, in one of their recent videos, the duo talked about “misogyny in KPOP”, “sasaeng behavior”, and “South Korean government’s regulation on Idols appearances”. Discussing the last topic, they made a very important point about the diversification in the KPOP industry.

There is a percentage of the audience that finds beauty norms and body norms in the KPOP industry problematic. KPOP idols are perceived to promote unhealthy habits that give false hopes and goals to young girls and boys who aspire to become like their favorites. But the relation is not so simple. Instead, the perception and the reception go both ways. While it is true that companies need to work on the image they try to portray to the young people, it is also true that the image that is currently being portrayed is in line with the “demand” of the consumers.

There have been some companies and artists who have attempted to showcase a different kind of portrayal but they have not been successful. Had these exceptions been successful, it would have become a necessity for the companies to change their methods and understand their audience’s demand and expectations.

By explaining the relation between the end product (music video and artist), Danny and David discussed the complex relationship between the producers and the consumers. So, while it’s easy to bash the companies on producing clichéd concepts and problematic videos, DKDKTV explained why these companies decide to make the move and how the consumers are involved in decision making.

By going in-depth into the topic, they showcased sides that might provoke a critic to reconsider their point of view and make a more educated comment.

Pursuing video creation full time, Danny and David are trying to disrupt the video market around KPOP and Korea. They are talking about things that matter to anyone who listens to KPOP and also about the things that have the tendency of becoming popular amongst K-Music listeners and K-arts consumers.

For someone who wants to go beyond reaction videos and meme compilation, DKDKTV is a good stop to check out. They also talk about non-Korean works so, if you are interested to check out their commentaries, you must check out their channel.

Share your thoughts on DKDKTV via tweet @Fuzzable.

Written by ayushi

Hello! I am Ayushi from India. I love writing poetry, listening to K-POP and spending time alone. Writing is what defines me and I am on the journey to make the definition as good as possible.

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