This week’s TL;DR comes from Maryland USA from mcbrayer77. He/she asks,

What do korean teens think of american music videos? really innocent (by u.s. standards) korean mv’s get banned all the time, what do they think of mv that are really promiscuous like one done by Beyoncé, lady gaga, and the pcd?

This was a great one for us to answer because both of us actually taught a lesson to our Korean students (back when we were teachers) about music videos and how to dissect them. It was an awesome lesson which we found tremendous success in. If you’re teaching in Korea, give it a shot. You can download it in our Winter Package here. Just make sure you prep your students with vocabulary and sentence structures because it can be a more challenging lesson. For Martina, she actually took three to four classes to fully teach this lesson. Otherwise the material can go over their heads and they will just watch the MV without interacting and speaking English afterwards.

Anyhow, in the lesson, we showed them some North American indie music videos,, mainstream pop music videos, and Kpop Music Videos. We included videos such as Justice – D.A.N.C.E, Hot Chip – Boys From School, Ok Go – End Love, Ok Go – Here It Goes Again

We also showed some more mainstream pop music, such as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, Beyoncé “Single Ladies”, Justin Timberlake “Cry Me A River”, Justin Bieber “Baby”, and Kanye West “Stronger”.

Along with these videos we would show the students some trendy Kpop Music Videos, and then we would compare and contrast Korean vs North American videos. It made for a great English discussion (and, apparently, the beginning of Kpop Music Mondays!) Anyhow, the point here is not to recap our lesson, but to explain that we’ve actually had experience hearing Korean teens’ opinions on North American style music videos. And, yes, we know Justice and Hot Chip don’t count for North American. Our bad!

If it was too artsy, it was deemed as “boring”, although, as pointed out in our TL;DR video, Simon also would have been bored of artsy videos in High School, and we’re guessing that some of you would be as well. It seems difficult to decide if it’s a cultural difference or just an age thing. I’m sure it doesn’t help that they can’t fully understand the lyrics, which often make an artsy fartsy video complete. Lastly, if it was a fun and interesting video, such as Ok Go, it got the classes attention, but only 1/4 of the class would love it. As for mainstream pop stuff. Most of the students already knew the singers we were showing, but they were always shocked by the amount of skin being shown (I’m looking at you Lady Gaga) or the passionate kissing that occurred.

Now, anyone who is an avid Korean/Japanese drama watcher can attest to the fact that KISSING IN THESE DRAMAS SUCCCCKSSSSSS and not in the good sucky way (<–does that sound wrong?), in the “dead-fish-two-faces-colliding-zero-passion-I’m-surprised-your-lips-aren’t-awkwardly-sticking-together-from-lack-moisture-as-the-camera-zoomz-in-awkwardly” kind of way. We really think that’s why these passionate MV kisses are so shocking. Take Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River”. This is a pretty not-sexy video, but right near the end, he makes out with a girl, nibbles her lip, and on top of all of that…she is shirtless! That’s an OMG BRAIN EXPLODE right there.

But then again, we mentioned how different Europe is from North America. We think Korean’s are innocent minded and then us ol’innocent Canadians wonder over to Europe and see people at the beach who are shirtless or totally nude. OMG DOUBLE BRAIN EXPLODE!!! So I guess it really just depends on what you are exposed to as you are growing up.

This ramble all leads to a point. What’s acceptable in one place may not be acceptable in another, and a country’s media isn’t some magical art form that is created out of a vacuum. The context is highly relevant in the creation of that media and art. And so, what is popular in one country won’t necessarily be popular in another. And this is no reflection on the quality of the media or art, rather, it reflects a country’s culture. All this talk about Kpop taking over the world is great and all, because we’re glad that Kpop is getting more coverage, but we don’t think that Kpop, or any other music for that matter, can dominate a planet. North American pop isn’t popular here, not because it sucks, but because it doesn’t fit. Jpop isn’t popular in England because it doesn’t fit, and the same can be said for Chinese pop in Finland (we’re guessing that last one). Sure, there are niche audiences in different regions that will like another country’s music, but we doubt it can totally take over the mainstream airwaves.

Or could it?

  1. I know that commercial! i saw it on the Austrian television. or at least a similar one…

  2. Why do North-americans always think Europeans are more liberal and open to nasty things? like that nipples’ thing that martina and simon talked. As European, i never saw any commercial where people were naked or anything of the genre. in general, the idea I have is that we are much more traditional than the north-americans.
    Is true that Netherlands is legally quite liberal with prostitution and drugs, but in general, the citizens of European countries are pretty conservative and reserved in their daily lives.

  3. Students in Korea needs to grow up

  4. In the music video of , did they laughed while they’re watching Gaga’s very big eyes makeup? When I saw it fist, I was really shocked at laughed a lot.

  5. What you’re saying about the north american music videos are so true. Most of them are so pornographic in asian countries’ standards. Very insightful and funny. 

  6. You guys should show them foster the people.

  7. the new youtube channel format is comfusing how do we vote


    I’m having a hemorrhage…

  9. OMG, I was shol about to ask this same question, so Im glad to see dis video.  It’s quite surprising to hear the korean student’s responses to NA videos. I wish you guys were still teaching because I would like for you guys to ask your students how do they feel about MOGEF banning harmless kpop videos when NA videos are 300 times raunchier than theirs? but really appreciate this video, it made me learn that culture really does influence any and every category.

  10. Can’t believe I missed this. :) 
    Thanks guys!
    I totally think of Scarlett Johanson when I see Martina ^^

  11. I thought this was really interesting because I like all different kinds of music but for each type of music I like someone thinks it’s really weird and Im always like WHY?

  12. wait is that the same hot chip who did the song i feel better? cuz that song / video is just…aaauuugghhh…><

  13. Hi, First of all I greatly appriciate your blog as a Korean teacher in America. ^^ I am teaching middle school and high school students in AZ. I sometimes show Korean music videos, but I thought some dance or love scean is too sexual for teaching material. I am mid age Korean who has been in America for 7 years now. Do you think most Korean music video is ok or safe for American student?
    Feel like I am getting too old.
    Anyway I love your blog.

  14. I think this is one of the best TL;DR’s that you guys have done! loved the explanations and i think you guys were right on.

  15. I have to say that I really love your TL;DR’s, they are really interesting! Kepp up the good work! :D But I’m also curious, how can you stay in Korea if you’re not working?..

    i think (maybe?) korea is the only asian country which is so super innocent.
    sources? look at me. asian, under 18 and knows everything that happens at bed. true story.

  17. Great topic! In El Salvador, k-pop bands such as Miss A and Shinee have become very popular because the music videos show things that are interesting to the teens such as the dancing and type of filming used. In fact, at the San Salvador Convention Center, they held a dance competition and the winners used Lucifer as their song.

  18. I like how when Simon was like let’s show male nipples i noticed he was wearing a milk shirt x)

  19. What about bands like Metallica? They are insanely popular in India (20,000+ audiences to see their shows)
    I guess rock / metal can dominate mainstream airwaves

  20. yeah… true with that kissing phrase… man, they suck bad genuinely… they aren’t romantic… its a mood killer instead… XDDDD

  21. Good topic; nice to know that kids these days still experience culture shock, after what so many have called “Westernization” of Asian nations. :)

    I have a side question, since you two haven’t been teaching for like a while now, how do you get the VISA to stay in/re-enter Korea? I thought you need to have a legal reason to reside there for an extended amount of time. I know US citizens are allowed to stay in Korea up to 90 days w/o a VISA (vice versa). Just wondering. I’d like to move there to live in the future, and I would like more info on how you two are getting by without a job in Korea and still be able to get the VISAs. Thanks! :D

  22. I still kind of feel weird at oversexualized videos here in North America and I’ve lived here my whole life exposed to this stuff.

  23. “The kids liked looking at Justin Timberlake…” Who the f*ck DOESN’T like looking at Justin Timberlake??? Sh*t. LOL!!!

  24. I am Korean but I love OKGO music video 
    maybe I am tired of same oh same oh  big industry music video of Korea.
    OKGO video are very refreshing

  25. I wonder what they would think of bands that are north american? X) since they have FT Island and CN Blue ^^ or maybe taylor swift, since she is more innocent clean type?

  26. Do you guys still visit your students?

  27. I would LOVE to see them react to LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It XD

  28. Just my two cents, but I think korean idols and groups put a lot of
    emphasis on their dancing as part of their training with the company.
    They dance better because of practice and also have great choreographers
    who, let’s face it, come from all over the world. I
    heard SM utilizes many foreign based choreographers/dancers for their idols. Entertainers in the US seem to focus on just being able to create/perform
    music and “do their thing”. As much as I dislike JB (understatement), you have to give him props for being one of those lucky few who are able to do what they love and do it to the extent of his popularity.

    I’m surprised no one has really mentioned electronic music considering it’s a big influence in other genres all around lately. Those music videos can go to both extremes of being artsy or scandaliciously sexy/”dirty” (The Weekend, Who’s Your Daddy and Pon De Floor anyone?) even if lyrics are not involved. “Dirty” does not only exist in pop and hip hop (Maroon 5’s Misery comes to mind too). It might be my age, but even when I was younger I didn’t mind NA mvs for their lack of clothing or too much PDA. It was all intriguing. I could take or leave the story, but to me the music was more important than anything.

    I grew up with american and japanese music before I dove into korean, so I have an inkling that today’s greater acceptance of the innocent and cutesy natures found in kpop is due to the japanese market having already tested the waters (I could be wrong). I don’t think kpop will make a sweeping takeover of America or the world as people expect, but korean music as a whole will definitely resonate influences as much as japanese music has.

    /rant 8D

  29. Do korean kids know that Kpop owes a lot to north american music? Just look at Seo taiji. He drew a lot from north american music. He started the trend which eventually led to what Kpop has become. 

  30. Why dont you both are teachers anymore? :O

  31. if you guys arent teaching anymore, and are still in korea, what are you doing?

  32. There’s a Finnish Chinese-Pop fan club/society who’s totally livid at you right now.

  33. te apoyo es por esoq ue me gusta la música coreana!!! :))

  34. I do admit, its true North American music videos are dirty. They always show “dirty” scenes or too much skin showing then usual. It’s not like they dress like that all the time (unless you are those kinds of people)  I’m happen to be Asian but I’m not saying to defend Asia. About 90% Kpop music videos I seen are not dirty at all. Even the lyrics isn’t. In my school, a lot of dirty thoughts come in all students, and its very disturbing. =.=

    • I wouldn’t say that’s completely true. There’s a lot of music that is highly suggestive/marketed for semi-pedophiles (SNSD’s Oh!, Kara’s Mister etc.) There’s a lot less skin shown, but that doesn’t mean it’s more innocent.And if you read fanfiction…

  35. What if Koreans saw Eastern European music videos? Many North Americans are like “this is porn” when it’s just a few girls in tiny bikinis.

  36. I would love to see student reactions to Rihanna’s latest, “We Found Love”.  I imagine fun times explaining the dilating eyes, and the scene where she vomits up ribbons.

  37. “dead-fish-two-faces-colliding-zero-passion-I’m-surprised-your-lips-aren’t-awkwardly-sticking-together-from-lack-moisture-as-the-camera-zoomz-in-awkwardly”<————-THIS
    I tried to get my sister into Kdrama….but she saw the kissing and just laughed her face off….then she told me they were stupid and went back to watching NCIS…..*depression*

  38. Interesting. This video touches on different musical tastes of Koreans vs Americans. I want to know about different musical tastes between the two. 

  39. I am a European and yes, nipples are more common. I never saw an advertisement as mentioned in the video though. But if I watch german or european movies, there are more naked people than in american movies. I think it is ok for us Europeans to show naked people if the situation is not sexual. For example in a very famous movie called “Keinohrhasen” a woman wakes up – naked of course – and tries to go on toilett without waking the man sleeping next to her.
    Here in Germany we also have something called FKK (=Freikörperkultur). At beaches with that sign everybody is naked…not for doing naughty stuff (omg o0) but for swimming, tanning and other non-sexual stuff. Not everybody here likes it, but it is accepted.
    But our music videos are not as grubby as in North America. As far as I know you will find these makeout-sessions in Gangstaa-HipHop videos only. At the moment our musicians want to be very artsy ^^ (with titles like “if words would be my language”)

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