Music Features

History of Kpop: The Rise of the Boy Band (H.O.T. and Sechs Kies)

In the mid-1990s, South Korean record labels injected the burgeoning new genre of K-pop with the first generation of "idol" boy groups – charismatic teens who helped build a global audience in the pre-Youtube era

Kpop was born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a hybrid of Korean 트로트 trot, American hip hop, and Eurodance.

And as the decade continued, a certain template emerged: The tunes were catchy, the pop stars were unbelievably photogenic, and the performances were half athletic showmanship and half poetic-rage-feels that Koreans call 한 han.

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Music Features

History of Kpop Boy Bands: The Early 1990s

Many Kpop fans have heard of first-generation boy groups like H.O.T. and Sechs Kies. But even they stand on the shoulders of the 1980s and early 1990s boy groups that literally created Kpop as we know it today

When TIME Magazine awarded BTS the title of Entertainer of the Year 2020, no one was surprised.

For the past two years, BTS has dominated in a way the world hasn't seen since The Beatles. Perhaps it even seemed that BTS came out of the void, perfectly formed, an Adam given the spark of life by the God of all-that-is-swoon-worthy in pop music.

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TV Features

"Lovecraft Country" Reminds Us That Magick Is as Real as We Believe It Is

One of the ideas explored by HBO's Lovecraft Country was the meta-boundary between fiction and reality—not only for the characters of the show, but also for us, the viewers.

The show (which is based on a book called Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff) finds Tic, his love Leti, and his father Montrose contending with the storyline of an autobiographical book (also called Lovecraft Country) written by Tic and Leti's future son.

One of the earliest episodes mentions the Necronomicon, an infamous book of magic featured in H.P. Lovecraft's fiction stories. This is an acknowledgement of the 100-year-old Lovecraftian world of antediluvian terrors.

But the way Lovecraft Country introduces the esoteric arts is very much aligned with real history. Magickal lodges with secret initiations exist. Voodoo priestesses exist. Korean shamans, called mudang 무당, exist and even influence top-level politicians. Lovecraft Country and HP Lovecraft''s legacy constantly interrogates the boundaries between fiction and reality, asking readers to question their own realities as well as their capabilities to create their own worlds or influence them through stories.
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Culture Feature

The Real-Life Magic of "Lovecraft Country": Interview with a Korean Shaman

There is a growing movement to reclaim indigenous Korean culture, which has normalized the role of mudangs in Korean society.

South Korean Female Shaman

Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun, Shutterstock

HBO's Lovecraft Country recently introduced mainstream America to a witchy Korean character called a "mudang."

This is not fiction, however; mudang is a real title given to real spiritual practitioners who are in high-demand in South Korea and the Korean diaspora community. The mudang depicted in Lovecraft Country is a pale comparison to real-life mudangs today. Who knows if the producers of the show even knew that mudangs were real (although plenty of people in Hollywood are aware, and some are even starting to consult with mudangs like Jennifer)?

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Culture Feature

The New Witch's Guide to Working with Hekate

Advice from four occultists on what to do during your first month working with this dark goddess.

It may seem ironic that, during times of great turmoil, there's a great deal of soothing succor to be found in images of and traditions surrounding the dark goddess Hekate.

Hekate, long venerated in Central Asian and Greek lore as the goddess of sorcery, has been name-dropped everywhere from Shakespeare's "Macbeth," to, most recently, Dua Lipa in her latest video "Levitating."

Dua Lipa - Levitating

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Culture Feature

On TikTok's Whitewashed New Age Aliens: Confessions of a Starseed

A Starseed "cult" leader went viral on TikTok....but the true history of Starseeds is far weirder and includes fringe futurists, multi-dimensional transmissions in Folsom Prison, and ancient aliens who look like the Virgin Mary.

"I'm a starseed," begins a TikTok by Unicole Unicron, which went viral in August.

The self-proclaimed "pop star cult leader" (who uses the pronouns xe/xir) characterizes starseeds as alien consciousnesses born into human bodies.

@unicoleunicron what is it like to be a starseed?
♬ join unicult - Unicole Unicron

Unicole Unicron goes on to say that starseeds are smart, psychic, lonely types who often have mental illnesses. This definition is in line with those who join Facebook groups like "Newly Awakened Starseeds, Indigo, Crystal and Rainbow Children" or "Galactic Federation Of Starseeds And Lightworkers" or read Gaia articles that say heady things like, "Starseeds are traveling souls from other planets who incarnated on Earth to inspire and heal human beings, and to participate in the planet's evolution."

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