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  • Communication, Digital Media, and Popular Culture in Korea: Contemporary Research and Future Prospects ed. by Dal Yong Jin and Nojin Kwak
  • Su Young Choi (bio)
Communication, Digital Media, and Popular Culture in Korea: Contemporary Research and Future Prospects, edited by Dal Yong Jin and Nojin Kwak. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018. 532 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4985-6203-4. $140.00 hardback.

The sex crime scandal surrounding K-Pop male celebrities that first emerged in February 2019 has shocked the public with its severe misogynistic content as well as the wide scope of associated allegations, from rampant drug use and illegal drug trafficking to police corruption and tax evasion. In particular, the suspects’ act of sharing secretly filmed sex videos in online chat groups through messaging apps was intensely criticized along with their other crimes like rape and prostitution. The scandal reminds us that understanding communication phenomena in Korea should be delicately situated in the complex social conditions and power relations of Korean society without being unilaterally harnessed by the recent global success of Korean popular culture and the mesmerizing growth of digital media. Then, in consideration of this point, what do we really know about Korean communication at the moment? Communication, Digital Media, and Popular Culture in Korea: Contemporary Research and Future Prospects aims to offer an in-depth answer to that question for readers who would like to know about what has been examined so far and what remains to be explored further in the scholarship of Korean communication, media, and culture. The edited volume achieves this purpose by organizing 18 analytical portraits in which the contributors collectively document and historicize the development of Korean media and communication studies.

Born in the context of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Korean American Communication Association (KACA), which was founded by a few Korean American media scholars in 1978, the book draws on reviewing academic works published mainly in English. As the editors Dal Yong Jin and Nojin Kwak highlight in the introduction, the task to address the major achievements and the new agendas of Korean media and communication scholarship is related to another goal of this volume: to register “the growth of KACA as a significant academic association” (p. xviii) that has served to connect scholars working in North America, Korea, and other countries.

Based on a recognition of KACA’s institutional legacy, the book is organized into five parts. Starting with an opening chapter highlighting a greater scholarly variety as one of the greatest challenges KACA faces, [End Page 160] “Institutionalization of Korean Communication” (Part I) guides the reader to an overview of Korean communication law research and the political economy of media industries in Korea. “Communication Systems” (Part II) unites the scholars in unpacking the research areas of political communication, journalism, and communication and technologies. In this part, the reader can explore and compare how the dynamics of information and communication technology intersect with the transformation of Korean politics, journalistic practices, and multiple public/private domains. The contributors to “Public Communication” (Part III) provide content analyses of works in the subfields of health communication, risk communication, and advertising, along with critical assessment of theoretical development in the area of public relations. “Digital Media” (Part IV) sheds light on how digital media are culturally embedded in the everyday life contexts and societal levels of Korea, on top of introducing the budding area of Korean game studies, the study of visual communication based on photojournalism, and the scholarship focusing on issues of communication and community in urban environments. Lastly, “Cultural Studies” (Part V) enables the reader to navigate the diverse subfields that reflect the conditions of globalization, including the chapters from intercultural communication, transnational media culture under the flag of the Korean wave, and Korean film history to sports communication and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender scholarship.

The distinct strength of the book is in its attentive and detailed portrayal of the current field of Korean media and communication studies based on its critical evaluation of a variety of evolving subfields. Through historicized or content analyses, the authors offer extended literature reviews where the reader can follow the primary accomplishments of 20 established or emergent research...


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pp. 160-162
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