Wonseok Lee

Wonseok Lee

Lecturer in Korean Studies
PHD, The Ohio State University
research interests:
  • Korean popular music and culture
  • globalization
  • transnationalism
  • musical identity

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    MSC 1111-107-115
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Wonseok Lee is a cultural musicologist who specializes in Korean popular music and culture, globalization, transnationalism, and musical identity. Lee is particularly interested in how musical genres emerge, what sociocultural elements affect them, and how the meaning of musical genres changes over time.

Lee earned his doctorate in musicology (emphasis on ethnomusicology) from the Ohio State University in 2023. In his dissertation, titled K-Pop Resounding: Korean Popular Music beyond Koreanness, Lee examines how the meaning of “K” in “K-pop” is (re)interpreted by individuals, how K-pop resounds beyond Koreanness, and eventually what elements constitute the K-pop phenomenon today. His research has been supported by the Academy of Korean Studies, Louise Zung-Nyi Loh Memorial Scholarship at Ohio State, and the RIKS Academy at Korea University.

Before joining Washington University, he taught “Introduction to Popular Culture” at Bowling Green State University, “Music Cultures of the World,” and “Music on the Move” courses at the Ohio State University, as an instructor of record.

Before he came to the United States in 2016, Lee worked not only with K-pop artists, such as Lee Hyori, Shinhwa, SG Wannabe, BuskerBusker, among others, but also with gugak (traditional Korean music) musicians, such as Kang Eun-il and Lee Ju-Hang, as a professional drummer/percussionist. With these artists, he performed in many cities in Korea, China, Japan, Greece, and Turkey.


Peer-reviewed journal articles:

Lee, W. and G. Kao. 2023. “‘I Need U’: Audience Participation in BTS’s Online Concerts During COVID-19.” Journal of Popular Music Studies vol. 35 (1): 46–66.

Lee, W. 2022. “‘This Is How We Support K-pop Stars’: From Unilateral Support to Mutually Inspired Partnership.” Korean Journal of Popular Music 30: 77–115.

Lee, W. and G. Kao. 2021. “‘Make It Right’: Why #BlackLivesMatter(s) to K-pop, BTS, and BTS ARMYs.” IASPM Journal vol. 11 (2): 70–87.

Kim, P. H. and W. Lee. 2021. “Industrial Hip Hop against the Hip Hop Industry: The Critical Noise of XXX.” Journal of World of Popular Music vol.7 (2): 186–204.

Lee, W. and G. Kao. 2020. “‘You Know You’re Missing Out on Something’: Collective Nostalgia and Community in Tim’s Twitter Listening Party during COVID-19.” Rock Music Studies vol.8 (1): 36–52.

Book chapters:

Lee, W. 2024 (forthcoming). “Tradition, Transition, and Trends: Contextualization of BTS’s Kugak-Inspired Performance of ‘Idol.’” in BTS: A Critical Reader, edited by Patty Ahn et al. Duke University Press.

Book Reviews:

Lee, W. 2022. A review of Pop City: Korean Popular Culture and the Selling of Place by Youjeong Oh. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. 2018. In Journal of Asian Studies, vol.81.1.

Lee, W. 2019. “Live from Korea, live from anywhere: A review of K-pop Live: Fans, Idols and Multimedia Performance by Suk-Young Kim.” SINONK.