Japan: KPop’s Taboo Freedom

I really love when KPop artists make songs in Japanese because the videos are always 10x crazier than their Korean videos are or would be. The Japanese entertainment/fashion culture is all about individuality and the stranger the better. Because of this Kpop artists can push their limits.

Most of you all reading this know how strict the KPop music industry is. They can’t say certain words, their dance moves are deemed “too sexy,” along with countless other crazy accusations.
This stems from Korea being a country that really limits what they export and import. Not in the literal sense but the mental one. Just think about what you know about Korea. There’s an 80% chance you found out about Korea from KPop/Kdrama. Why is that? Because Korea limits what knowledge about themselves goes out and what Western things come in. Before the Hallyu Wave most of us didn’t even even know where Korea was on the map. I’ll be honest myself. Japanese culture brought me to Korea along with Rain. It’s not a bad thing or our fault. We can’t dictate how a country promotes itself. Take for example Russia. What do we know about Russia? Russian spies, rockets, (maybe prostitutes.) That’s it. Why? Because Russia doesn’t want to share what’s going on between its borders, nor does it have to. The way Russia is is how Korea has been, until now.
This post will evaluate why KPop artists go to Japan to get creative freedom from Korea’s strict borders. Obviously the #1 reason for going to Japan is more money broadening their fan base but with that comes loosening the censorship on their music.

First up 2NE1. Of course 2NE1 already has a distinct, no-holds-bar style, as does the rest of YG artists, but I’ll say some scenes in their newest Japanese release “Scream” video pushes the limits where their Korean videos can not.

This is the full video but please note the sound is a little off and distorted since the persons Youtube channel who uploaded it doesn’t own the rights to the video. So to prevent beimg flagged, the sound is a little off.

This video has two scenes that’d be labeled “pushing the boundaries” in Korea. The first would be Park Bom in the bathtub. Note that never has there been a female in a bathtub full of bubbles in a KPop video. We see it all the time in Western ones, but in Korea that would be seen as too risque. Now Japan is QUITE the opposite as we all know. Sex and the images that come with it are just part of daily life and not seen as taboo. The K artists are able to relax a lot more.

Another scene to note is when Mimzy is walking through the girls locker room and all the females are shocked and run for cover. Even though Mimzy is a women they run from her as if she’s a man walking in on them. This is a play on Mimzy being the more boyish one in the group. (I really love Mimzy because of this. She’s going her own direction regardless of what Korean mainstream society thinks of it.) She’s usually covered head to toe and only ONCE have we seen her sexy.
I will tell you all one of the TOP search words for this blog when I look at my stats is “SEXY MIMZY.” It’s always a screen shot image from the “Can’t Nobody” video when she had on a sexy S&M type leather outfit on.

She definitely looks good sexy but YG has seemed to put the “boyish” member label on her therefore she usually is more sporty. Saying all this, my point is I like how in the scene when she’s in the locker room, the girls can’t tell she’s a woman because of her attire. One can also interpret it as her possibly being a lesbian and strolling through the woman’s locker room to take a peak! So fierce 2NE1!


A second example would be the now infamous “Intoxication” song and video from DBSK/JYJ’s Xiah Junsu. I know Simon and Martina introduced this song to a lot of people and parody it quite often but I personally ran into this video on accident about a year ago. While scrolling through random DBSK stuff I saw a still of a golden Xiah and exclaimed “Hold on there! Whew, what is THIS!” It was the most wonderful thing I had ever set my eyes on. And what a treat! A sexy Kpop male artist doing a SEXY Kpop song. NOW That’s a rarity!

I am posting 2 versions of this video. The first is a mix of his live performance along with snippets of the actual video. It’s VERY hot. The second one is the actual video, also too hot to handle 🙂

Though nowadays it does seem like more male artists are starting to push the boundaries of what’s allowed in KPop. YG artists Se7en’s song “Make Good Love” off his latest album is one. It’s totally frank about what he wants to do or is doing with his girl. I’m quite surprised it hasn’t been deemed “hazardous to the Korean people” YET. Another example would be Taeyang’s “Take it Slow” off of his first solo CD. I bought that CD in Koreatown while I was in LA! Anywho I knew there was a reason I liked Taeyang 😉 If you haven’t noticed yet, almost all these artist are on YG ENTERTAINMENT. YG gives its artists creative freedom which no doubt produces the best work possible.

Last but not least, sex personified, Rain. He also hopped on a plane to Japan in 2006 to release a Japanese album entitled “Sad Tango” that included a sexy song nicely titled “Slowly.”

Nope! Your ears did not deceive you. This is Rain, the man he is, telling it like it is. It shocks me how even though artists like Rain are grown a** men, in Korea they’re still suppose to make songs and promote themselves like their not adults. When he released “Rainism” in 2008 the lyrics said “Watch my magic stick, make your body shake.” The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family quickly banned the song and made Rain change the lyrics. His album got a 19+ sticker smacked on it and new editions had to be released. Oh wow, I’m pretty sure 50 Cent has a song actually titled “Magic Stick” and is 50X nastier than a simple one line that’s in a dance song. I might be stretching it comparing a rapper to a Kpop artist but still, they’re both grown men. They’re not going to be thinking and talking about riding pony’s and what flavor ice cream they want from Baskin Robbins. This also flows into the “aegyo oppa” thing for Korean women.

IU is looked at as adorable even though she’s an 18 year old woman. (In Korea 19 is considered an adult but in international age they’d actually about 20 years old.) What’s seen most attractive for a Korean woman would be a very childlike face, a really small voice, and a more childlike aura. In the entertainment industry it would be hard for her to break that image. If she wanted to have a more mature look she could possibly be criticized or find it difficult to make that transition unlike counterparts Koda Kumi or Britney Spears who tore off the young girl image after becoming adults with much success and critical acclaim.

While thinking of my love and appreciation for the musical freedom that America, Japan and many other countries have, I suddenly remember why I came to love Kpop. For its pure, bubblicious, unison dancing and energy the it eludes. How I can jam to Super Junior or Rain in the car with my brothers without fear of a curse word coming on nasty lyrics ruining the atmosphere. Now yes, it’s in Korean and they wouldn’t be able to understand anyways, but that’s beside the point. I enjoy even when there’s a English translation, it’s about fun, independence, and having fun. I’m forever in debt to Rain for being so awesome that just seeing him in a movie made me want to know more about him and Korea. I love shouting random things like “I’m Mr. Simple!” or “I’m a Genie for ya boy!” It’s that cute aegyo aura that reeled us in. To get away from the sex, booty poppin crazed American music, or just to get away from hearing the words “Justin Beiber” every damn day.

I love what KPop represents and support it whole heartedly. I’m not putting it above any other music genre because it’s obviously not for everyone, but it’s fun, energetic, and gives you inspiration to follow your dreams. But I don’t mind every so often (or frequently) hearing of my favorite male KPop artist going over to Japan to release a naughty song. It doesn’t bother me one bit.

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1 thought on “Japan: KPop’s Taboo Freedom”

  1. I agree that is what really attracted to K-Pop that it wasn't filled so many curse words or negative images of women nearly having to prostitue themselves to be considered attractive. Or men being praised for being bums and living off other people's achievement's or violence that is appraised in certain genres of american music. The kiddie like pop of korean music kind of brought back the heart free felt of teenage pop of high school days.

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