A Study of Feminism and Womanism in Korean Hip Hop Songs by Female Rappers

Authors

  • Iljung Kim UBC School of Music

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.42675

Keywords:

Korean popular music, gender equality, misogyny in Korea, feminist movement in Korea, hip hop feminism, Afro-Asian culture

Abstract

Originating in the South Bronx in the 1970s, hip hop started as a subculture that represented the less privileged urban black youth, becoming the perfect platform to signify their resistance. Prominent womanist scholars have wrestled with misogyny in hip hop music, suggesting that female hip hop artists perceive feminism and womanism at street-level, standing up for themselves and, at the same time, sympathizing with black men fighting against the larger society. Hip hop began in Korea also as a youth-driven subculture in the mid-1990s, successfully establishing its ground as the voice of the younger generation and addressing social and political issues. This article examines feminism in Korean hip hop focusing on works by notable female artists. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, popular female rappers, such as Yoonmirae and Diva, openly produced songs about feminist issues. This is less common today as hip hop has received significant recognition in the mainstream K-pop music. Gender inequality has become a hot potato in the giant K-pop industry, and the mainstream hip hop scene discourages artists from engaging in such controversial topics. Still, female artists employ womanist approaches to indirectly address these social issues. Moreover, young rappers continue to utilize the platform to express their own voices, and there are independent artists, led by Sleeq, who openly advocate feminism through their music.

Author Biography

Iljung Kim, UBC School of Music

Iljung Kim is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at University of British Columbia. His doctoral dissertation discusses the contemporary practice of beompae, a Korean Buddhist chant. Side projects address Balinese gamelan tradition and Korean popular music. His musical background includes film scoring and traditional Korean-style composition, with related MAs from New York University and Seoul National University. 

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Discography

Choi Sam. 'Niga jal mot hangue aniya' ['It's Not Your Fault'], Choi Sam Mixtape Gum. YouTube, 2012.

Choi Sam. 'Witch', Suicide (EP). TS Entertainment, 2016.

Choi Sam. 'Nongugong' ['A Basketball'], Nosy (EP). Beautiful Monster, 2017.

Choi Sam. 'Hal mankeum haetda' ['Did as Much as Possible'], Taboo (digital single). Beautiful Monster, 2018.

Choi Sam. 'Chicken Game', Mitochondria (digital single). Beautiful Monster, 2019.

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Jessi. 'Gucci', Un2verse (EP). YMC Entertainment, 2017.

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Published

2021-02-15

How to Cite

Kim, I. (2021). A Study of Feminism and Womanism in Korean Hip Hop Songs by Female Rappers. Journal of World Popular Music, 7(2), 228–249. https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.42675