Pop-Powerment: Korea's Pop Divas Take the Stage
By Daniel Tehrani
"Gangnam Style" may have been inescapable in 2012, but Korea boasts a plethora of female acts that churn out catchy pop hits dripping with camp. These ladies deserve a look from the gay community, not just for their fierce fashion and eye-popping videos but because, like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and the other stateside divas we love so much, are breaking restrictive gender molds. Though it may be quite a conservative society, things are changing -- today Korea elected its first female president, Park Geun-hye and in 2012 female stars
proclaimed their rightful spot alongside the boys.
A leading member of girl group dujour, Brown Eyed Girls, Ga In's video for her solo single Bloom made waves for its proud, unapologetic exploration of female sexuality, including steamy sex scenes and one very brave masturbation scene on the kitchen floor. What's shocking is not the video itself -- sex and pop music are old news -- instead its the positive reaction the video garnered. Korea is a place where modesty is a must for women, where exposing too much shoulder is considered risque, but Ga In's video and poppy single enjoyed success without any backlash given to other stars who have exhibited similar sexual freedom.
Tough and rowdy, the 2NE1 girls have risen to stardom in Korea with their punky look and catchy songs. Like PSY they've had quite a bit of success stateside as well, touring America last summer. Their video for 2011's "I'm The Best" has more than 60 million hits and proclaims an image quite unusual in Korea's hit-making machine. Instead of the passive, sweet, innocent role often imposed on female stars in Korea (pink frilly dresses, love-lorn lyrics) these girls take the reigns and proclaim their dominance, complete with studded black leather and slick PVC dominatrix looks.
Subject of the ever popular lyric "hey sexy lady" as PSY's co-star in Gangnam Style, HyunA has been featured in Interview magazine but her reception has not been so positive back home. Her newest single, Very Hot was a little too hot and was banned from two radio stations and she was forced to alter her notorious choreography. Check out her 2012 video "Ice Cream" below, featuring a guest spot by PSY and a chorus of "Cream, cream, cream" which she sprays a bunch of guys with -- sexy indeed!