Appropriation or Appreciation? When Black American Culture Becomes a Costume feat Young Ajummah // A Kpop Fashion History Podcast // Episode 3

A Kpop Fashion History Podcast
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This discussion features content creator, Aewen Radio host and writer for the Kraze –  Young Ajummah!

Below is an overview of our chat. To join the conversation comment below or at us at @KFashionPodcast.


From furry back jackets, helmets with capes and every variation of a mullet you can thing
of – the Kpop fashion industry has created some of the most iconic looks in the world. 

And I’m
here to dissect it. 

Welcome to a Kpop Fashion History Podcast!

If you like what you hear you can follow this podcast on Twitter @KFashionPodcast or email
questions, comments or feedback to



How does cultural appropriation pertain to fashion? 

First we we have to define what cultural appropriation and how to differs from cultural appreciation. Cultural Appropriation occurs when a typically dominate people or society unacknowledged or inappropriately adopt customs and practices of a minority people or society, using cultural forms, outside of one’s own, to define oneself, or their group (looking in a toy box).

Appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture in
an effort to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally. ITs about building


Questions we’ll answer today.

Why is it so prevalent in Kpop?
What specific traits do they choose as a costume?
Can fans use the excuse of of Oppa didn’t know? 

Is liking Kpop cultural appropriation?


Where it started

The Bubble Sisters debuted in 2003 as a “vocally powerful singing group” depicting a direct mockery of black culture. They were told by their management to do blackface for publicity because he felt “they were to fat and ugly to succeed.” The group wore Afros, box braids, hair rollers and more. These images were perverted by minstrel shows in the early 19th century depicting racist stereotypes of blacks in America.

The first cultural appropriation in the modern Kpop industry was from the godfather of Kpop, Seo Taeji, of Seo Tae Ji and The Boys who pioneered the use of rap in Kpop as well as street fashion. They incorporated traditional Korean folk costumes and the “snowboard look,” which included dark sunglasses, ski hats, and large parkas. They even wore Scottish kilt.

From there they decided to take it a step further by wearing locks in 1993 causing a reactionary ban of the band on national television.

With the Kpop industry constantly expanding globally, why is cultural appropriation still happening?

Final thoughts…Appropriation or Appreciation?

Is liking Kpop cultural appropriation?

The Korean government spends millions on promoting Korean culture around the world. Kpop was packaged they way Korea wanted it to be received so learning Korean, eating Korean food, etc is the result of the billions of advertising spent on spreading the KWave globally. So no, liking Kpop is not cultural appropriation.

Is appropriation of cultures harmful? 

Yes, POC are k:lled and hurt because of their cultural so cherry picking the elements you like from someone else’s cultural and disposing what you don’t like to create an image for yourself is disrespectful.

Lastly, Korea has such a beautiful history and culture of its own so these artists should showcase their own culture instead of appropriating another.


What steps can be taken to prevent it from happening?


Training staff, diversity & inclusion classes for idols, fans of color on boards and listening to fans. 

Stylists researching about clothing styles they’re unfamiliar with and being mindful that certain items originated from other culture’s and have meaning and repercussions for those who wear it within that culture.

Last thoughts

 “I see Appropriation as someone looking in a toy box: they cherry pick elements they want to create their own Megazoid of Black culture. Then after they choose what they want, they discard the elements they don’t. And that’s just not okay.”


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