Visual Music: K-Pop’s ‘CAWMAN’ Effect on a Transnational Music Subculture


Elina Luise Haessler

Independent researcher, Donegal, Irela

Author’s contact information:

INSAM Journal of Contemporary Music, Art and Technology, Issue 8, 2022

Main Theme of the Issue: Fighting for the Attention: Music and Art on Social Media

Publisher: INSAM Institute for Contemporary Artistic Music, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina



Abstract: South Korean popular music or K-Pop has risen phenomenally in popular music industries around the globe in little under three decades through its unique production method of embracing a combination of both musical and visual artforms. Having gained mass international popularity, K-Pop has established the characteristics of a subculture. The visual emphasis K-Pop producers place in their productions lays particularly in the foreground to its transnational attraction. Primarily in the form of music videos, narratives and aesthetics becoming communicable beyond language mediation.

Using a semiotic theoretical analysis, this paper critically analyses the creation, sustainment and effects of ‘visual music’ as a foregrounding component of this transnational music subculture. To do so, the focus lies on K-Pop production company SM Entertainment’s recently established CAWMAN genre, a method of producing music media based on Cartoon, Animation, Webtoon, Motion Graphics, Avatar and Novel. With K-Pop’s central portal of communication and K-Popular practices being the Internet, this paper explores the effects and critical roles of this new genre of visual music in bringing people together across the globe.

Keywords: ethnomusicology, online social musicking, popular music, visual music, transnational subculture, semiosis, K-Pop, Korean studies, SM Entertainment.


7. INSAM Journal 8, Haessler

ISSN 2637 – 1898
On the cover: Tiamat by Kim Diaz Holm
Design and layout: Milan Šuput, Bojana Radovanović