Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2021

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Prof. Genevieve Leung

Second Advisor

Prof. Aliah Mansor


Most of the academic literature analyzing K-Pop and J-Pop have focused on their historical development, marketing strategies and/or fandoms, typically forgetting about the figure at the center of it all: the idol. This paper addresses this research gap directly by asking: how does a person become an idol? Contrary to commonly held perceptions, idols frequently demonstrate that they are active in the process of their own production, meaning that the process of idol identity formulation is not a one-way process, as it would be in a factory. Rather, idols, producers, trainers, and the public all collaborate to create the idol’s narrative identity and public image. Idols use different strategies when communicating this sense of identity to audiences during public appearances in a way that allows them to leverage said identity for their own benefit. I illustrate these strategies in the following paper by using a performance theory and narrative identity theory informed framework to analyze the interview content found in Produce 48, Ride on Time’s King & Prince S1, Arashi’s Diary Voyage and in-depth interviews with SHINee. This allows us to have a firmer grasp on what it is about idols that sways audiences to engage in internet wars on their behalf and scream their names at the top of their lungs in Olympic stadiums.