Bewitched by K-pop: What Modern Witches Can Learn About Ritual Magic from South Korean Pop Music Idol Groups

BTS. Twice. BlackPink. These are some of the biggest names in K-pop, or Korean pop, a genre that has dominated music charts both in Asia and in the West. But, according to Chaweon Koo’s new book “Spell Bound,” they aren’t just photogenic youngsters doing slickly choreographed routines. Literally called “idols,” these groups are also representatives of the most effective, state-sponsored magic rituals of the last 30 years. “Soft power” has now become South Korea’s most powerful export, through the leveraging of cutting-edge technology and the power of social media.

Whether inspiring North Korean teens to risk imprisonment by buying South Korean cosmetics worn by their favorite K-pop idol, millions of international Twitter fans to spam police websites during #BLM, or bringing Augmented Reality into the mainstream via hybrid digital-human idols like AESPA, K-pop is more than just music. How did South Korea, a small country technically at war since the 1950s, and considered a developing nation even in the 1990s, become a cultural zeitgeist for the world? And what can witches learn about powerful rituals from 3-minutes of a K-pop routine onstage? This talk will analyze several popular K-pop performances through the lens of Western occult traditions, Chaos Magick, and Korean shamanism, in order to reverse-engineer what makes K-pop such a formidable force of modern bewitchment.


Chaweon Koo is a writer of the intersection of pop culture, the occult, and futurism. Her Tik Tok @chaweonkoo is one of the most popular occult accounts on the platform, and she also interviews some of the most distinguished occultists and witches in the English-speaking world on her YouTube, “Witches & Wine.” In the past year, she has helped co-facilitate “crypto-rituals,” which are public magic rituals done directly on the Ethereum blockchain. Her new book “Spell Bound” available as a hardcover on May 3, 2022, has over 60 beautiful illustrations specifically commissioned for the book, and details her journey from an atheist witch into one of the most visible East Asian practitioners of both Eastern and Western occult traditions.

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