Lim Kim debunks stereotypes

Worldwide the popularity of K-pop is huge, especially since the hit Gangnam Style exploded in 2012. Even though the sound is modern and eclectic, or even experimental, the guys are always tough, happy and cool and the girls are always cute, bright and pretty. But K-popstar Lim Kim wants to challenge these stereotypes. As well as the way Western people see Asian people. In this article I transcribed a short interview she did with BBC News about her mission.

By Charlie Crooijmans

Like many K-popstars, the career of Lim Kim (1994) began after she appeared on a TV talent show. She started as a solo artist and took part of the folk pop duo Togeworl, with songs about love and romance. Kim didn’t like to be pretty and cute all the time, but I guess it’s not easy for a pop artist to get rid of a manufactured image. She stopped her career for awhile to find her own voice. In 2019 she released her album Generasian with a wonderful solid sound. In the video Yellow, one of the most popular song of the album, she portrays a powerful and independent Asian woman. Watch the video first and then read the interview below.

Yellow is an obvious word which means Asian people. But mostly it’s used as kind of a negative word. I think I wanted to show my perspective of the way Western people see Asian people: quiet or very submissive or just being polite.

There is quite very angry lyrics in Yellow and one of the things are ‘break domes of male dominance’.

“I burn their lips in bright pink, my flavour’s like wasabi.
It’s not your typical taste, our style lookin’ so kawaii”

I do kung-fu moves to show the power of Asian woman. I never tried before, but I did it for this music video.

People around me like agencies or like the industries were just seeing me in this stereotypical image and they wanted me to fit in. And it was all this kind of pretty image, or cute image or just bright image, that they want to go with me. So that was the biggest reason that I came up with the anger and the fury of Yellow.

Even though on the outside I might look shy or quiet, maybe I am not that person that you might expect or see. I wanted to portray a new image of Asian women, which is more powerful and more independent and they do what they want. They’re never going to stay quiet as expected and you can never know what’s going to come from them. When I finish I break the chains that I had on my neck and that means that now I do my own thing.

(source: BBC News)

As you can see, this new voice of Lim convinces in her music, lyrics and visuals. I really appreciate that she explores the darker side of pop music. The music has a fascinating contemporary Korean sound. No sweetness, but powerful and reflective. In the song Entrance, also from the album Generasian, she uses the strength of pansori, a traditional Korean genre in which stories a sung-spoke in a powerful voice.
Hopefully she will release some new songs any time soon.