To find out, please check out my journal article “Just beautiful people holding a bottle: the driving forces behind South Korea’s love of celebrity endorsement”, which has just been published in Celebrity Studies. There’s only a very limited number of e-copies available unfortunately, so please get in touch if you have any problems accessing it.
Part of a special cultural report on (South and North) Korean celebrity, it’s only 4000 words long, which, alas, makes it at least 4000 words too short for the topic. I’m especially gutted that I had to cut out a paragraph about the “Metal Tray Karaoke Room” segment of the first season of Happy Together. So, let me mention it here instead. For if you really want to understand the strong humanizing streak in Korean celebrity culture I discuss, which underlies why there’s just sooo many ads featuring them, then there’s no greater example than that of a variety show which:
- regularly featured A-list celebrities and/or sex symbols (e.g. Cha Tae-hyeon, Son Yae-jin, and host Lee Hyo-ri below)…
- wearing traditional high-school uniforms…
- in a set made of egg cartons…
- singing obscure children’s songs…
- and getting metal trays dropped on their heads if they made mistakes.
It also just happens to exemplify just about everything I love about Korea:
All that said, only having 4000 words to work with
(actually supposed to be only 3500, but my long-suffering editor gave up on me) does force you to—ahem—get to the point, and to only cover the bare essentials. If you have any questions about the article then, and/or would just like to know more about anything covered in it, please let know in the comments, and I’d be very happy to get into greater detail.
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Korea’s Celebrity Obsession, Part 1: The numbers
- “Fucking is Fun!”: Sexual Innuendos in Vintage Korean Advertising
- Presentation, Yonsei University, Friday 12th: “Give it to Me? The Impact of K-Pop’s Sexualization on Korean Advertising”
- Friday Fun? Korean Women Putting Shoes on Their Heads (Updated)
- Sex, Self-Confidence, and Social Activism: When Women Made Soju Ads
- Two Must-Listens About Korean Popular Culture
- Turning Boys Into Men? Girl-groups and the Performance of Gender for South Korean Conscripts, Part 1