‘Where all my bad girls at?’

cosmopolitan femininity through racialised appropriations in K-pop


  • Joyhanna Yoo Garza University of California, Santa Barbara




appropriation, embodiment, chronotope, Korean, performance


This article examines the polyvalence of racial(ised) representations in K-pop performances. The analysis of K-pop star CL’s (2013) song and video ‘Nappeun gijibae’ (‘The bad girl’) demonstrates how the artist projects an assertive femininity by embodying and localising the Bad Bitch: a sexually agentive figure of womanhood from US hip hop. CL’s use of African American English and conventionalised hip hop tropes helps resignify gijibae, a pejorative Korean term for women. By shifting between decontextualised styles invoking a different time and place, CL is able to build a kind of chronotopic capital that transforms fragmented styles into an empowered cosmopolitan femininity. However, although CL’s performance challenges Korean gendered norms in its use of local linguistic resources, her selective appropriations of US Black and Chicanx cultural signifiers reproduce narrow images of racialised femininities and reify a hierarchy of valuation along lines of gender and race.

Author Biography

Joyhanna Yoo Garza, University of California, Santa Barbara

Joyhanna Yoo Garza is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her engagements in anthropology, ethnic studies and feminist studies inform her analyses of the semiotics of language and racialised gendered corporeality, particularly in mediatised contexts. Her current research examines transnational Korean popular media performances in South Korea, Mexico and the US.


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How to Cite

Garza, J. Y. (2021). ‘Where all my bad girls at?’: cosmopolitan femininity through racialised appropriations in K-pop. Gender and Language, 15(1), 11–41. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.18565