The Hallyu Project Cluster-P45 Contemporaries

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Yin Yuan, Post45 Contemporaries
contact email: 

**REMINDER: Abstracts for the Hallyu Project are due by March 1, 2022.**

CFP website:

Post45 Contemporaries website:


THE HALLYU PROJECT: A Post45 Contemporaries Cluster

Squid Game’s global impact barely needs introduction. The first ever television series to top Netflix daily charts in every single country where the streaming service is available. Netflix’s most-watched series as of October 2021, a distinction previously held by the American period drama Bridgerton. What is more impressive is that the South Korean show achieved this in a non-English language, proving that Parasite’s cultural breakthrough in 2019 was not simply an anomaly. Perhaps English-speaking viewers have finally, to quote Parasite director Bong Joon-ho, overcome “the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles.”

But why now?

The Hallyu Project cluster invites contributors to think about how, why, and whither Korean popular culture is resonating worldwide at this moment in time. What distinctive structures of feeling do Korean cultural products offer in a world that must increasingly reckon with neoliberal precarity, physical displacements, and global systems of exploitation? How has the production and reception of Korean pop culture opened up questions of racial capitalism, super-exploitation, neocolonialism, cultural hybridity, media trans-nationalization, and fandom culture?

Squid Game shines a light on these issues, but it is far from the only Korean show to do so. Reflective of what has been termed South Korea’s “compressed modernity,” in which explosive post-war economic growth also led to tremendous social upheaval, Korean television and film tend to underscore the ways in which individual lives are caught within broader socioeconomic, gender, national, and imperial contexts. Tracing all the way back to the Golden Age of South Korean Cinema (1955-72), these narratives have long been invested in exploring how, as Kathleen McHugh writes, “personal frustration becomes the basis for interpersonal identification that is at once familial, social, and political.”  

What new understandings emerge when we locate Squid Game within this long history of performing the personal as the political? How is that politics complicated by the ambivalent status of the Hallyu commodity, a commodity produced both to express domestic concerns and for exporting to a global audience? Is Hallyu necessarily self-conscious? How are Hallyu products differently received by Koreans, the Korean diaspora, countries outside of Korea, seasoned Hallyu fans, and other international viewers? What implications does this hold for our understanding of Hallyu and online fandom?

Suggested lines of inquiry for cluster contributions include, but are not limited to: 

  • The unstable meanings of Hallyu: What is it, who owns it, who is it for, what ends does it serve?
  • Cultural analyses of Korean media content: Analyze Korean tv shows, music, film, variety programs, and other relevant narrative/audiovisual modes within a domestic and/or transnational context. What makes them distinctive?
  • Hallyu’s (neo)colonial roots and/or (post)colonial implications
  • Cross-cultural comparisons: Compare Korean and non-Korean popular media. As an example: What distinguishes Squid Game from other cultural offerings within the “battle royale” genre, such as America’s Hunger Games and Japan’s Alice in Borderland?
  • The self-consciousness of Hallyu products: their mutual references and porous boundaries. As an example: How does Squid Game’s themes, motifs, and eye-popping sets connect and/or consciously allude to other Korean cultural exports, including variety game shows, K-pop, and other internationally popular tv shows?
  • Digital Hallyu: The influence of streaming and social media platforms on Korean popular culture
  • Hallyu fandom: Fan practices and their potentially transformative power
  • Hallyu's uneven reception across different communities and cultures: Koreans, the Korean diaspora, the Global South, the Global North, seasoned fans, novice viewers, etc.

What is a Post45 Contemporaries “cluster”? 

Post45 Contemporaries provides a forum for writers to converse with one another more directly and informally than in traditional academic publications. These curated conversations, or “clusters,” range from sets of relatively autonomous short essays on a common theme to extended epistolary exchanges.

Please visit the Post45 Contemporaries website (link at the top of this post) for examples of what clusters look and sound like.

What should a contribution sound like?

Intellectually stimulating, but conversational; rigorous, but accessible. Designed to spark thought and debate, at dinner tables and in undergraduate classrooms alike.

Not too long—about 3,000 words or so. Multi-modal and alternative formats also welcomed!

Editorial Process and Timeline

Abstracts due: March 1, 2022
Response to abstracts: March 15, 2022
First drafts due: August 15, 2022
Second drafts due: October 2022
Publication: Winter 2022

Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 100-word bio to Yin Yuan ( by March 1, 2022. Questions can also be directed to this same email. We look forward to hearing from you!