“Loser” aesthetics: Korean internet freaks and gender politics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, a new Internet freak culture emerged in South Korea in response to the rapid development of the Internet as well as the country’s neoliberal reforms. At this time, images of losers, freaks, and other surplus populations circulated online. This article examines the gender politics of Internet freaks through an analysis of one online fan forum, the Lee Joon Gi gallery of DCinside.com. Lee’s fan forum acquired a reputation through sexually charged posts from its female-user base in the late 2000s and is still active today. By appropriating attributes of online male culture and forms of communication, such as absurd statements, rudeness, and aggressive sexual expression, the users of this fan community created a carnivalesque space for themselves and subverted rigid Korean gender ideologies. Such parodies have transformed the fear of misogyny and sexism in the offline world into laughter online and become fertile ground for changes in gender politics in online spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-872
Number of pages15
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • Internet culture
  • South Korea
  • carnivalesque
  • female fandom
  • politics of aesthetics
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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