Korean Wave

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Korean Wave
Chinese
Traditional Chinese 韓流
Simplified Chinese 韩流
Japanese
Kanji 韓流
Korean
Hangul
Hanja

The Korean Wave[2] (Hangul: 한류; hanja: 韓流; RR: Hallyu[1]; MR: Hallyu) is a neologism referring to the increase in the popularity of South Korean culture since the late 1990s. The term was originally coined in mid-1999 by Beijing journalists who were surprised by China's growing appetite for South Korean cultural exports. They subsequently referred to this new phenomenon as "Hánliú" (韓流), which literally means "flow of Korea".[3][4]

First driven by the spread of K-dramas televised across East and Southeast Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon due to the proliferation of Korean pop (K-pop) music videos on YouTube.[5] Currently, the spread of the Korean Wave to other regions of the world is most visibly seen among teenagers and young adults in Latin America, Northeast India, the Middle East, North Africa, and immigrant enclaves of the Western world.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

The growing acceptance of South Korean pop culture as a valid form of entertainment in many parts of the world has prompted the government of South Korea to use the Korean Wave as a tool for soft power. Ultimately, the government hopes that the acceptance of South Korean culture in foreign countries would be reciprocated by an embracement of foreign cultures among South Koreans, thus realizing the ideals of a bidirectional flow of culture, goods and ideas in order to achieve the following goals:

Overview[edit]

The Korean Wave, or Hanryu, is made up of two root words – han (韓) refers to a quality or state of being Korean while liu or ryu (流) means "flow".[17] Both words can be combined to form the compound word Hanryu (한류), usually romanized as Hallyu, which refers to "the flow and spread of Korea" and is translated into Indo-European languages as the Korean Wave.

The Korean Wave is based on many different aspects of South Korean culture, such as:

Many commentators consider the cultural influences originating from the Korean Peninsula, mostly popular culture from South Korea but also traditional Korean culture in its entirety, as part of the Korean Wave. The American political scientist Joseph Nye interprets the Korean Wave as "the growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine."[18]

Historical background[edit]

After the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953, South Korea experienced a period of rapid economic growth known as the "Miracle on the Han River". Following Park Chung-hee's ascent to South Korean presidency in 1961, screen quotas were gradually introduced to the local market in order to restrict the number of foreign films shown in cinemas.[19] Previously, the South Korean film industry was unable to raise sufficient capital for the production of big-budget films. The introduction of these quotas was intended to prevent domestic films from having to compete with foreign blockbuster movies.[20]

In 1986, the Motion Pictures Exporters Association of America filed a complaint to the United States Senate regarding "unfair" regulations and quotas imposed by the South Korean government on all foreign films.[21] Facing pressure from the U.S. government, the South Korean government gradually lifted its restrictions and allowed major Hollywood studios to release their film productions. In 1988, Twentieth Century Fox became the first American film studio to set up a distribution office in South Korea. This was soon followed by Warner Brothers (1989), Columbia (1990), and Walt Disney (1993).[22]

By the year 1994, Hollywood's share of the South Korean movie market had reached a peak of around 80 percent, and the local film industry's share fell to a low of 15.9 percent.[23] In the same year, the former South Korean president Kim Young-sam was shown a report by the Presidential Advisory Board suggesting that cultural and media production should be encouraged and subsidised as part of the country's strategic export industry.[24] According to South Korean media, the former President was urged to take note of how total revenues generated by Hollywood's Jurassic Park had surpassed the sale of 1.5 million Hyundai automobiles. With the latter widely recognized in South Korea as a source of national pride, this comparison between the Hollywood sector and the South Korean automobile industry finally led to the government's acceptance and recognition of culture as an exportable commodity.[25]

K-pop (Korean pop) songs played by the South Korean conglomerate LG at the IFA trade exhibition in Germany

As a result, numerous state research agencies were created to boost the nation's cultural industry. Although the term Hallyu was coined much later in 1999 by China's Beijing Youth Daily,[26] by the end of 1995, the foundation for the rise and spread of Korean culture was firmly laid out.[25] The earliest mention of using culture to enhance the nation's soft power echoes back to the writings of Kim Gu, leader of the Korean independence movement and president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Towards the end of his autobiography, he writes:

...I want our nation to be the most beautiful in the world. By this I do not mean the most powerful nation. Because I have felt the pain of being invaded by another nation, I do not want my nation to invade others. It is sufficient that our wealth makes our lives abundant; it is sufficient that our strength is able to prevent foreign invasions. The only thing that I desire in infinite quantity is the power of a noble culture. This is because the power of culture both makes us happy and gives happiness to others...

Kim Gu, Excerpt from Baekbeomilji, March 1st, 1948

History[edit]

1994–99: Early beginnings[edit]

In 1994, South Korea's Ministry of Culture set up a cultural industry bureau to develop its media sector. Many large business conglomerates and chaebols were also encouraged to expand into the film and media sector. Three years later, the Asian financial crisis triggered a turning point in the development of the Korean Wave as major conglomerates suffered heavy losses, prompting a handful of them to shift their focus away from the manufacturing sector to the entertainment sector.[27] In 1999, the first big-budget film Shiri was released into cinemas and it became a major commercial success in South Korea, grossing over US$11 million,[28] and suprassing the local theatre attendance record set by the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic.[29]

According to The New York Times, South Korea's restriction of cultural imports from its former colonial ruler Japan was finally lifted in 1998. Worried about the inpending "onslaught" of Japanese movies, comics and J-pop (Japanese pop), the South Korean Ministry of Culture made a request for a substantial budget increase which allowed it to set up 300 cultural industry departments in colleges and universities nationwide.[30]

This led to the development of an elaborate training and export system which the South Korean music industry now labels as "Cultural technology". The spread of Korean popular culture began with the broadcast of several Korean TV dramas in China. On November 19, 1999, one of China's state-controlled daily newspapers, the Beijing Youth Daily, published an article acknowledging the "zeal of Chinese audiences for Korean TV dramas and pop songs".[26]

A few months later in February 2000, SM Entertainment's boyband H.O.T. became the first modern K-pop music artist to give an overseas performance with a sold-out concert in the Chinese capital of Beijing.[31] As the volume of Korean cultural imports rapidly increased, China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television responded with a decision to restrict and limit the number of Korean TV dramas shown to Chinese audiences.[32]

2000–09: Hallyu in Asia[edit]

Towards the turn of the 21st century, other countries in East Asia also experienced a growth in the popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs. In 2000, the K-Pop singer BoA took off her musical career with SM Entertainment and two years later, her album Listen to My Heart became the first album by a Korean musician to sell a million copies in Japan.[33]

Despite the early success of the Hallyu-wave, there was an equally noticeable growth in cultural imports from Taiwan, which, like South Korea, is also one of the Four Asian Tigers. The spread of Taiwanese popular culture occurred slightly earlier, before the Hallyu-wave was known in Asia. In 2001, the Taiwanese drama "Meteor Garden" was released and soon attracted audiences from all over the region. It became the most-watched drama series in Philippine television history,[34] garnered over 10 million daily viewers in Manila alone,[35] and catapulted the male protagonists from the Taiwanese boyband F4 to overnight fame.[36] In 2002, a BBC journalist described the members of F4 as previously unknown actors who have "provoked hysteria across Asia" as a result of the success of "Meteor Garden".[37] The popularity of "Meteor Garden" (an adaptation of the Japanese manga series Boys Over Flowers) can be attributed to these two factors:

  • Emotional engagement of the audience with particular emphasis on forging an emotional bond with the protagonist
  • Explicit attention to female sexual desires — Departing from conventional dramas that tend to eroticize the female body, "Meteor Garden" markets the sexual attraction of the male actors (as played out by the Taiwanese idol group F4), giving women a certain freedom of sexual expression.[38][39]

As a result of the success of "Meteor Garden", its sequel "Meteor Garden II" was gradually released into many Asian countries as well, before the source material was later adapted by networks in Japan, South Korea, and China respectively. The Korean Broadcasting System's adaptation of the series was renamed "Boys Over Flowers" based on a much earlier Japanese manga series of the same name.

In 2001,Shinhwa's fourth album, Hey, Come On!, was released on June 8, 2001, debuting at #3 with the lead single "Hey, Come On!" rapidly climbing up the music charts. The album's release coincided with the rise of the Korean Wave, spreading the group's popularity overseas especially China and Taiwan. The popularity of Shinhwa's song make other boy band from Taiwan, Energy copy their song.

In 2002, the Korean Drama "Winter Sonata" became the first of its kind to equal the success of "Meteor Garden", attracting a cult following in Asia with sales of Winter Sonata-related products such as DVD sets and novels surpassing US$3.5 million in Japan.[40] In 2004, the former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi famously noted that the male protagonist of the drama "is more popular than I am in Japan".[41]

Other K-Dramas released in subsequent years, such as Full House and Dae Jang Geum, also saw comparable levels of success.[42]

Since 2002, television programming trends in Southeast Asia began to undergo a drastic change as TV series from South Korea and Taiwan filled the slot originally reserved for Hollywood movies during prime time.[34] Although dramas from South Korea gradually overtook those from Taiwan, much of Asia still had their eyes focused on Taiwanese bands such as F4, S.H.E and Fahrenheit. The breakthrough for K-pop came with the debut of TVXQ, SS501[43] and Super Junior, the latter hailed by the BBC as a household name in the region.[44]

Meanwhile, the popularity of Korean TV dramas continued to spread across the Asian continent, with many Korean male actors portrayed as sweet, romantic, sensitive but also "totally ripped" and good looking. Reports about Asian women travelling to South Korea to "find a Korean husband" began to appear in the media, including a Washington Post article about thousands of "smitten" Japanese women settling for "nothing less than a Seoul-mate",[45] a TIME magazine article reporting that teenagers from Tokyo to Taipei were swooning over South Korean music artists,[46] and a CNN article about thousands of Chinese women clamoring for a chance to see K-pop boyband Super Junior, resulting in a stampede.[47]

..like many Asian youngsters, he considers
the trends of North America (and Japan)
to be insipid relics. "In Cambodia we watch
Korean dramas, listen to Korean music,
and take our fashion from South Korea,"
he says.

 —Interview with Hallyu-fans from Cambodia by
The Economist[48]

In 2003, the South Korean girl group Baby V.O.X. released a Chinese single entitled I'm Still Loving You and topped the various music charts in China, thus making a huge fanbase there. Their Korean single What Should I Do and Chinese single I'm Still Loving You charted in the music charts of Thailand and because of that, they were awarded as Asian Sensation by Channel V in Thailand.

By the late 2000s, many Taiwanese music acts could no longer catch up with their K-pop counterparts. Although a number of Taiwanese bands such as F4 and Fahrenheit continued to retain a small but loyal fan base in Asia, teenagers and young adults from all over the world were much more receptive to K-pop bands such as Big Bang and Super Junior, both of whom have managed to attract a huge number of fans from South America, parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and to a smaller extent, the Western world (particularly among immigrants with an Asian, Middle Easten, African, or Eastern European background).

2009–10: First forays outside of Asia[edit]

Fuelled by the increased global interest in K-pop songs, several K-pop singers decided to expand their music careers by releasing English language-studio albums in the hope of reaching out to Western music markets. However, such attempts did not succeed.[49] Even more glaringly, the K-pop singers BoA and Se7en both returned to South Korea after their U.S. music careers struggled to gain traction. This prompted a freelance journalist writing for CNN to label them as "complete flops".[50]

In the United States, the spread of Korean pop culture remained confined to immigrant hubs where large numbers of Korean Americans reside, such as Los Angeles and New York City.[51] According to the chief operating officer of Mnet Media, its employees' attempt to pitch over 300 K-pop music videos to American music producers and record labels was met with a lukewarm response, as "there were relationships so they would be courteous, but it was not a serious conversation".[52] A music executive from Universal Music Group pointed out that K-pop is unlikely to succeed in the United States because music fans "would just be too critical about the lyrics and the acts' accents when singing in English."[53]

However, the spread of the Hallyu-wave continued to reach countries outside North America.[54] The TV series Jumong turned out to be particularly well received by audiences in the Muslim world, attaining over 80 percent viewership ratings in Iran.[55][56]

K-pop fans in Warsaw, Poland, holding up a S.Korean-Polish flag as well as banners of Korean boybands MBLAQ, B1A4 and 2PM

In Eastern Europe, the initial spread of Hallyu was also driven by TV series and dramas, with one screening of Jumong attracting over 800,000 viewers from Romania.[57] Other TV series aired by Romanian Television (the country's state-owned broadcaster) also consistently drew more than 500,000 viewers per episode.[58] In the Indian state of Manipur where Bollywood movies were banned by separatists, consumers gradually turned their attention to Korean entertainment products.[59] According to Agence France-Presse, it is common for Korean language phrases such as "사랑해요", or sarang-haeyo (I love you), and "안녕하세요," or "annyeong-haseyo" (Hello), to be heard in everyday conversations in the schoolyards and street markets of Manipur.[8] Many Korean dramas and films were smuggled into Manipur from neighbouring Burma, in the form of CDs and DVDs.[59]

Over in the West, the spread of the Hallyu-wave caught on after the widespread proliferation of social media networks had found its place in everyday life.[60] This gave a huge push to the K-pop genre as the traditional reluctance of radio DJs to broadcast foreign language songs became irrelevant because the video sharing platform YouTube offered young consumers a convenient outlet to listen to any genre of music in any language they wished. As a CNN reporter who attended KCON 2012 in Irvine, California, pointed out: "If you stop anyone here and ask them how they found out about K-pop, they found it out on YouTube."[61]

2011–present: Hallyu goes global[edit]

By the end of 2011, the total number of YouTube views generated by K-pop videos had surpassed the 1 billion mark, tripling from 800 million in the previous year to more than 2.3 billion while spurred on by huge growths in Europe and the Middle East.[62] The globalization of Hallyu was accompanied by the following events:

Year Event Significance
2011 SM Town Live '10 in Paris, France First large scale K-pop concert attended by fans from all over Europe[63]
2011 MTV Europe Music Awards in Belfast, Northern Ireland First major European music award won by a South Korean act, Big Bang.[64]
2012 Barack Obama's speech at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on March 26 First mention of Hallyu by the President of the United States (Full transcript at whitehouse.gov)
2012 Ban Ki-moon's speech at the National Assembly of South Korea on October 30 First mention of Hallyu by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (Full transcript at un.org)
2012–13 Commercial success of Psy's "Gangnam Style" First single by a South Korean recording artist to sell a million copies in the United Kingdom[65]
2013 The 5th Super Show concert tour in Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paulo and Lima First large scale K-pop concert tour held across the South American continent.[66]
2013 Lunafly's concert at the Théâtre municipal de Tunis First K-pop concert in Tunisia and the largest in North Africa[67]
Psy performs "Gangnam Style" in Sydney, Australia.

In February 2013, Peru's vice president Marisol Espinoza gave an interview with South Korea's Yonhap News Agency where she named K-pop as "one of the main factors that made Peruvian people wanting to get to know South Korea more". She also welcomed the Hallyu-wave to Peru.[68]

In Turkey, the total number of members registered by K-pop fan clubs across the country is estimated to have surpassed 100,000 for the first time,[69] with one particular fanclub drawing almost 13,000 fans.[70] According to a KBS reporter, a handful of Korean dramas were recently aired by four of Uzbekistan's state run TV channels on a daily basis.[71]

In the West, the number of Hallyu fans in France has also surpassed 100,000.[72] This is partly due to the demographic structure of France which comprises a significant number of immigrants from North Africa and other parts of the Middle East.[citation needed] In the United States, the popularity of Korean pop culture is currently spreading from the Asian American minority group to larger ethnic groups such as White Americans and African Americans.[11][13][61]

On February 6, 2013, White House officials managing Michelle Obama's Twitter account revealed that they had gathered Napa cabbage from the South Lawn to "make kimchi in the kitchen."[73][74] As an editor of Esquire magazine pointed out, this was considered perplexing because it "skews so far from the White House's usual fare".[75] This came shortly after sales of Korean cuisine at the British supermarket chain Tesco more than doubled,[76] while Germany's nationwide public broadcaster Deutschlandradio acknowledged that Hallyu is "conquering the world,"[77] France's largest television network TF1 reported that the K-pop "phenomenon" is breaking out into the entire youth demographic,[78] and the British Minister of State from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire, affirmed in a meeting with South Korean diplomats that Korean music has gone global.[79]

Different aspects of traditional and contemporary Korean culture, clockwise from top left: A Samsung Galaxy Tab, women performing Taepyeongmu, a Korean dish known as Bibimbap, the K-pop idol Junsu, the K-pop boyband Super Junior and children in Hanbok costume

Back in Asia, the Hallyu-wave reached new heights as Myanmar's democracy icon and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, made her first visit to South Korea in 2013 for, among others, a "special dinner" with some of the most popular Korean actors, including Ahn Jae-wook, the male protagonist of the 1997 Korean drama Star in My Heart. According to an article by Agence France-Presse, "Star in My Heart" was a big hit in Suu Kyi's homeland and its male protagonist Ahn Jae-wook was personally invited for a dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi because of his "resemblance to her assassinated father (Aung San)."[80]

In 2013, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that young people in Israel are beginning to see K-pop as "cultural capital" – something which makes them stand out from the crowd. It is hoped that the Korean Wave will bring together fans from both Israel and the Palestinian Territories, where the number of K-pop followers was reported to have surpassed 3,000.[81]

On February 25, 2013, South Korea's newly elected president Park Geun-hye delivered her inauguration speech where she promised to build a nation that "becomes happier through culture," and to foster a "new cultural renaissance" that will transcend ethnicity and overcome ideologies because of its "ability to share happiness".[82] According to The Korea Times, one of Park Geun-hye's main priorities as president will be to allocate at least 2 percent of the national budget to further develop South Korea's cultural industry and to seek more cultural exchanges with North Korea.[83]

However, a state survey of 3,600 respondents from Brazil, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom indicated that Hallyu faces an uncertain future as over 66 percent of respondents believe that the popularity of Korean culture will "subside in the next four years".[84]

Characteristics of Hallyu and role of the South Korean government[edit]

One important characteristic of the Korean Wave is the use of cultural technology to suit the tastes of overseas audiences,[85] as well as the use of social media to reach a wider audience.

The popularity of K-pop music videos has been aided by crowdsourcing translation sites such as Viki, whose Creative Commons license translations help bridge language barriers.[86]

The Government of South Korea considers the Korean Wave to be a viable way to increase the total exports of the country.[87] In 2013, the Export-Import Bank of Korea announced its decision to provide loans and credit guarantees worth US$917 million to entertainment and food firms over the next three years to promote the spread of the Korean Wave. A spokesman representing the bank told reporters that K-pop, Korean dramas, as well as traditional Korean cuisine have huge growth potential, and that exporters of such cultural content deserve more investment and financial support.[87]

Worldwide image surveys[edit]

On July 28, 2013, the South Korean government announced that it plans to conduct a worldwide public image survey of Korea targeting citizens of several major countries. The aim of the survey is to collect preliminary data in line with the state's goal of creating an "attractive Korea trusted by the world".[88] The results of the survey are due to be published in October 2013 and will involve 1,000 citizens from each foreign country.[88]

A few more rounds of such surveys involving 20 countries per year will also be held in 2014 and 2015.[89]

Census of Hallyu fans[edit]

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the total number of active members registered by Hallyu fan clubs worldwide is estimated to have surpassed 3 million for the first time.[90] These figures are based on statistics published by official fan clubs in countries and regions where the Korean Cultural Center has been established.

In recent years, the K-pop musical genre has secured a huge fan base in South America, parts of the Middle East, and a niche audience in the Western world. This graph (above) shows the general search interest for the Korean boyband Super Junior among various Internet users from Peru, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Italy for the time period from October to November 2012.[91]
Year Country/
Region
Number of
Hallyu fans
Source
2012  Belarus 1,000 [92]
2012  Peru 8,000 [93]
2012  Chile 20,000 [93]
2012  Mexico 60,000 [94]
2012  Turkey >100,000 [69]
2011  France >100,000 [72]
Worldwide total
Year Fan clubs Members Source
2011 182 3.3 million [95]
2012 830 6.0 million [96]
2013 987 9.3 million [97]
Only official fan clubs registered by the South Korean
government are taken into account

In addition, there are also 200 fan clubs devoted to Hallyu in Japan, but most of these organizations were excluded from the 2011 state-sponsored survey as they have been operating solely for commercial purposes.[98] Also in the same year, the Korea Tourism Organization surveyed 12,085 fans of Hallyu and concluded that:

  • Young adults in their twenties formed the largest age group[99]
  • A majority of respondents were Asians and over 90% were female[99]
  • Korean pop (K-pop) remains the most popular category of Hallyu among overseas fans[99]

Hallyu and international diplomacy[edit]

Besides increasing the amount of exports, the Korean Wave is used by the government as a soft power tool to engage with the masses of young people all over the world,[100] and to reduce anti-Korean sentiment.[14]

In the 21st century, culture is power...Together with the Korean people we will foster a new cultural renaissance or a culture that transcends ethnicity and languages, overcomes ideologies and customs, contributes to the peaceful development of humanity, and is connected by the ability to share happiness.

—South Korean president Park Geun-hye[82]

Since 2011, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been inviting K-pop fan communities from all over the world to take part in auditions held at the embassies of South Korea. After going through a few preliminary rounds, those selected by the jury will be sponsored a free trip to South Korea to compete in the annual K-Pop World Festival organized by the government.

In May 2012, the government held a K-pop showcase concert as part of its "Hallyu Diplomacy."[101]

East Asia[edit]

China[edit]

In 2005, the former Chinese President Hu Jintao remarked that it is a "shame" that his busy schedule had stopped him from watching every episode of the Korean TV series Dae Jang Geum.[102] According to Asia Times Online, Dae Jang Geum was first aired by China's state-run Hunan Broadcasting System a few months back and attracted over 180 million viewers from all over the country.[103]

Two years later, the former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted by China's official Xinhua News Agency as saying: "Regarding the Hallyu phenomenon, the Chinese people, especially the youth, are particularly attracted to it and the Chinese government considers the Hallyu phenomenon to be a vital contribution towards mutual cultural exchanges flowing between China and South Korea."[104]

In August 2008, the lead actress of the Korean TV series Dae Jang Geum, Lee Young-ae, was invited to attend a state dinner with the presidents of China (Hu Jintao) and South Korea (Lee Myung-bak).[102]

In 2012, Psy reached Number 1 on China's Baidu 500 download list with his hit single "Gangnam Style," which was labelled by Chinese netizens and state media as a "divine melody" (viral song).[105][106] After in 2013 The Korean TV drama My Love from the Star has so far notched up more than 2.5 billion views online in China alone. [107]

A four member research study led by Kang Myung-koo of Seoul National University published a controversial report in 2013 suggesting that Chinese viewers of Korean dramas generally are within the lower end of the education and income spectrum. The study has led to an angry response by fans of Korean television in China, with a group purchasing a full-page advertisement in the Chosun Ilbo requesting an apology from the authors of the study.[108][109]

Japan[edit]

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that the "boom" in Korean popular culture in Japan has "expanded" mutual interest and cultural exchanges between both countries.[110] Several high-profile fans of Korean TV dramas include Japan's former first lady Miyuki Hatoyama and Japan's current first lady Akie Abe.[111]

However, the popularity of Korean entertainment exports has recently led to several instances of street protests and demonstrations involving hundreds of people.[112] These protests were mostly organized by critics of Korean pop culture with the support of right-wing nationalists.[113]

The Middle East[edit]

According to the Saudi Gazette, both Egypt and Iran have become major destinations of the Hallyu-wave since the mid-2000s.[114] Following the success of several Korean dramas, the Korean Overseas Information Service donated "Winter Sonata" (a popular Korean TV series) to several state-run Egyptian television networks and also paid an undisclosed fee for Arabic subtitles. The New York Times published an article stating that the intended goal was to "generate positive feelings" among Arab audiences towards South Korean soldiers stationed in northern Iraq.[115]

Egypt[edit]

Autumn in My Heart, one of the earliest Korean dramas brought over to the Middle East, was made available for viewing after the South Korean embassy successfully persuaded an Egyptian state-run broadcasting company to air Korean TV series following five months of "persistent negotiations".[116] Shortly after the final episode ended, the embassy reported that it had received over 400 phone calls and love letters from fans from all over the country.[116] According to Lee Ki-seok, secretary of the South Korean embassy in Cairo, South Korea's involvement in the Iraq War had significantly undermined its reputation among ordinary Egyptians but the Korean drama Autumn in My Heart proved "extremely effective" in reversing this trend.[117]

Iran[edit]

In October 2012, the Tehran Times reported that several representatives from Iran's state broadcaster, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), have arrived in South Korea to visit the original filming locations of several Korean TV series including Jumong and Dong Yi, both of which have attained widespread popularity in Iran.[118] These TV series were previously aired by IRIB TV3, one of Iran's state-run television channels.[118] According to the IRIB World Service (the official external broadcasting network of Iran), the meeting was intended to strengthen the "cultural affinities" between the two countries and to seek avenues for further cooperation between the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and the IRIB.[119]

South Korean actor Song Il-gook speaking to fans and Iranian journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 18, 2009[120]

The main factor contributing to the IRIB's decision to air Korean TV series during prime time is often attributed to the lead protagonists' tendency to reinforce traditional Confucian values that are closely aligned with those of Islam, such as putting society before oneself and showing respect towards higher authorities.[121] Consequently, Korean dramas are seen as a substitute for Western film productions, many of which do not satisfy the criteria set by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and are therefore censored by Iranian law enforcers.[122]

According to Reuters, until recently audiences in Iran have had little choice but to watch what the state broadcaster deemed was suitable.[122] As a result, Korean dramas aired by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting receive little competition from foreign film productions, and more often than not, attain higher viewership ratings in Iran than in South Korea. For example, some of the most popular episodes of Jumong attracted over 90% of all audiences in Iran (compared to 40% in South Korea), propelling the rise of its lead actor, Song Il-gook, to superstar status in Iran.[120]

List of Korean TV Series aired by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)
Year(s)
of broadcast
TV series TV channel Episodes Television
ratings
Ref
2006–07 Dae Jang Geum Channel 3 54 86% [123]
2007–08 Emperor of the Sea Channel 3 51
2008–09 Jumong Channel 3 81 80–90% [55]
2012– Dong Yi Channel 3 60 [118]

In 2008, the National Museum of Korea organized an exhibition touted as "The Glory of Persia". In an interview with Iran's state-run media, Choe Kwang-shik (South Korea's former Minister of Culture) hailed the exhibition as one of the "most important cultural events" and expressed hope that it would "introduce the Iranian history, culture and civilization to the Korean people".[124] According to Iran's state-run media, the exhibition was attended by over 350,000 people, and the number of South Korean tourists visiting Iran had quadrupled as a result of the exhibition.[125]

More recently, researchers from both countries have been studying the cultural exchanges between Silla (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) and the Persian Empire (modern-day Iran).[126] A journalist from The Korea Times quoted an Iranian scholar suggesting that the cultures of Silla and Perisa may have "naturally blended each other 1,200 years ago.".[126]

Iraq[edit]

In 2012, the Korean drama Hur Jun was reported to have attained over 90% viewership ratings in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.[127] According to South Korean media, its lead actor, Jun Kwang-ryul, was invited by the federal government of Iraq to visit the city of Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan at the special request of the country's First Lady, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed.[127]

Back in the early 2000s, Korean dramas were originally aired for South Korean troops stationed in northern Iraq as part of coalition forces led by the United States during the Iraq War. With the end of the war and the subsequent withdrawal of South Korean military personnel from the country, there were efforts made to expand the availability of K-dramas to the ordinary citizens of Iraq. According to the South Korean embassy in Baghdad, plans have been made for the K-dramas Dae Jang Geum and Winter Sonata to be aired by Iraq's state-owned Al Iraqiya television network following the Ramadan festival in the latter half of 2012.[127]

Turkey[edit]

In February 2012, Jaejoong (a band member of K-pop idol group JYJ) was invited by the South Korean Embassy in Ankara to hold an autograph signing session for hundreds of K-pop fans at Ankara University.[128] Before departing for K-pop concerts in South America, Jaejoong also attended a state banquet with the presidents of South Korea (Lee Myung Bak) and Turkey (Abdullah Gül).[129]

Oceania[edit]

Australia[edit]

In March 2012, Australia's then Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited South Korea's Yonsei University, where she acknowledged that her country has "caught" the Korean Wave that is "reaching all the way to our shores."[130]

New Zealand[edit]

In November 2012, New Zealand's Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrea Smith, delivered a key note address to South Korean diplomats at the University of Auckland, where she asserted that the Korean Wave is becoming "part of the Kiwi lifestyle" and added that "there is now a 4,000 strong association of K-Pop followers in New Zealand."[131]

Eastern Europe[edit]

Belarus[edit]

Marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Belarus, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the National State Television and Radio Company will air a handful of Korean television programs from February 13 to 17 as part of its so-called "diplomatic broadcasting" with South Korea's Arirang TV. The ministry also added that extra attention will be given to K-pop concerts that are "becoming extremely popular all over the world."[132]

In return, South Korea's Arirang TV will broadcast Belarusian films several times a day during the same period.[132]

Romania[edit]

According to a local daily newspaper, the first Korean drama was aired on Romanian Television in August 2009 and in the following month, it became the 3rd most popular television program in Romania.[133] By 2010, many other Korean dramas were also aired on national television channels such as TVR1 and TVR1, with some of them attaining the highest TV Ratings among all prime time shows.[133]

As a result, the state-run Romanian Television network has further extended its purchase of Korean TV dramas.[134]

Western Europe[edit]

France[edit]

The French Foreign Ministry acknowledges the status of Hallyu as a global phenomenon that is characterized by the "growing worldwide success of Korean popular culture".[135]

Germany[edit]

The German Foreign Office has confirmed that "Korean entertainment (Hallyu, telenovelas, K-Pop bands, etc) is currently enjoying great popularity and success in Asia and beyond."[136]

United Kingdom[edit]

In November 2012, the British Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, held a meeting with South Korean diplomats at the House of Lords, where he affirmed that Korean music has gone "global".[79]

United States[edit]

During a state visit to South Korea in March 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama remarked that the digital age has enabled people from different cultures to connect across borders like never before, and "It's no wonder so many people around the world have caught the Korean Wave, Hallyu."[137]

During a bilateral meeting with South Korea's president Park Geun-Hye at the White House in May 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama cited Psy's "Gangnam Style" as an example of how people around the world are being "swept up by Korean culture – the Korean Wave."[138] In August 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also affirmed that the Korean Wave "spreads Korean culture to countries near and far."[139]

United Nations[edit]

On October 30, 2012, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a speech in front of the National Assembly of South Korea where he noted how Korean culture and the Hallyu-wave is "making its mark on the world".[140]

Effects[edit]

Political[edit]

National prestige[edit]

In 2012, the BBC's country rating poll revealed that public opinion of South Korea has been improving every year since the first rating poll for the country was conducted in 2009. In several countries such as Russia, India, China and France, public opinion of South Korea turned from slightly negative to generally positive. The report cited culture and tradition as among the most important factors contributing to positive perceptions of South Korea.[141]

This comes alongside a rapid surge in cultural exports which was worth a total of US$4.2 billion in 2011.[142] The following data is based on government statistics for the value of cultural exports while the country's rank in global soft power is based on a study by the international affairs magazine "Monocle":

2008[143] 2009[144] 2010[145] 2011[145] 2012[146][147]
Total value of cultural
exports (in USD billions)
1.8 2.6 3.2 4.3 5.02
South Korea's global
rank in soft power
19 14 11

Korean conflict[edit]

According to various reports, the spread of the Hallyu-wave to North Korea occurs mostly through CDs, DVDs and USB sticks smuggled from China. Some North Koreans living near the Korean Demilitarized Zone have also been tuning into South Korean radio stations illegally

Roh Moo-hyun, the ninth President of South Korea, was among the first to acknowledge the use of the Hallyu-wave as a tool to reunify the Korean Peninsula.[15][148]

In May 2007, the TV series Hwang Jini (which is adapted from a novel by a North Korean author) became the first South Korean film production to be made available for public viewing in North Korea.[149] With the end of Roh Moo-hyun administration's Sunshine Policy towards North Korea and a deterioration of North-South relations, however, the spread of the Hallyu-wave was quickly restrained by North Korean authorities, although a report published by Radio Free Asia (a non-profit radio network funded by the U.S. federal government) indicated that the Korean Wave "may already have taken a strong hold in the isolated Stalinist state".[150]

In 2010, researchers from the Korea Institute for National Unification surveyed 33 North Korean defectors and found out that the impact of Korean dramas such as "Winter Sonata" had played a significant role in shaping the decision of North Korean defectors to flee to the South. It was further revealed that a small number of people living close to the Korean Demilitarized Zone have been tampering with their televisions sets in order to receive signals from South Korean broadcast stations in the vicinity,[15] while CDs and DVDs smuggled across the border with China also increased the reach of South Korean popular culture in the North.[15]

The survey was repeated in 2012, this time with a much larger group of North Korean defectors (100 in total). According to one of the researchers, some of North Korea's financial elite have been watching South Korean videos either on a daily basis, or at least once a week. The survey also affirmed a widely held belief that North Koreans living close to the border with China have the highest degree of access to South Korean entertainment as compared to other areas.[151]

In October 2012, the Supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, gave a speech at the headquarters of the internal security division of the Korean People's Army, where he vowed to "extend the fight against the enemy's ideological and cultural infiltration".[152] Earlier on, a study conducted by an international consulting group, commissioned by the U.S. State Department, came to the conclusion that the country is "increasingly anxious" to keep the flow of information at bay but has less ability to control it as there is "substantial demand" for movies and television programs from the South as well as many "intensely" entrepreneurial smugglers from the Chinese side of the border willing to fulfill that demand.[153]

"...My happiest moments when I was in North Korea were watching South Korean TV shows. I felt like I was living in that same world as those actors on the show.
—A North Korean defector interviewed by Human Rights Watch[154]

In February 2013, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a human rights group saying that Psy's 2012 international hit single Gangnam Style has "deeply permeated North Korea", after the mission group had been actively sending out K-pop CDs and other goods across the China–North Korea border.[155]

On May 15, 2013, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch confirmed that "entertainment shows from South Korea are particularly popular and have served to undermine the North Korean government's negative portrayals of South Korea".[156]

Economic[edit]

According to a 2006 Washington Post article, the increased popularity of South Korean entertainment has led to increased sales of other aspects of South Korean culture including food, clothing, video games, and Korean language classes.[157]

The following data is from the Korea Creative Contents Agency, a body that is a part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, and is from the first quarter of 2012 fiscal year. All monetary values represent South Korean won.

Creative Industry Sector Total revenue Exports
Animation[158] 135.5 billion 35.2 billion
Broadcasting[159] 213.5 billion 2.2 billion
Cartoon[160] 183.2 billion 4.7 billion
Character[158] 1,882.9 billion 111.6 billion
Gaming[161] 2,412.5 billion 662.5 billion
Knowledge/Information[162] 2,123.1 billion 105.2 billion
Motion Picture[163] 903.8 billion 15.6 billion
Music[164] 997.3 billion 48.5 billion
Publishing[160] 5,284.6 billion 65 billion

Backlash[edit]

There have been many cultural backlashes in places where the Hallyu-wave has spread, as is the case in countries such as Japan, China, and Taiwan. Existing anti-Korean attitudes may be rooted in historical hatreds and ethnic nationalism.[112][165] In Japan, an anti-Korean comic book, Manga Kenkanryu or Hating the Korean Wave was released in July 26, 2005, which became a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon.co.jp. Japanese actor Sousuke Takaoka openly showed his dislike for the Korean wave on his Twitter, which triggered an internet movement to boycott Korean programming on Japanese television on the 8th of August.[166] On February 1, 2012, Al Jazeera revealed "punishing schedules and contracts, links to prostitution and corruption" in the industry.[167] Anti-Korean attitude also spiked when Kim Tae-Hee, a Korean actress, was selected to be on a Japanese TV soap opera in 2011. Since she was an activist in the Liancourt Rocks dispute for the Dokdo movement in Korea, some Japanese people were enraged that she would be on the Japanese TV show. There was a protest against Kim Tae-Hee in Japan, which later turned into a protest against the Korean Wave.

As the Hallyu-wave arrives in the West, there is concern that South Korea could tap into the Hallyu-wave to achieve its political goals. In a satirical speech recorded by a local radio station, the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, joked that the world might end due to the "total triumph of K-Pop".[168][169] Others have also noted similarities between the South Korean Ministry of Culture's support of the Korean Wave and the CIA's involvement in the Cultural Cold War with the former Soviet Union. According to The Quietus magazine, suspicion of Hallyu sponsored by the South Korean government to strengthen its political influence bears a whiff of the "old Victorian fear of Yellow Peril" that many Westerners in the late nineteenth century feared would eventually take over and destroy Western civilization and its culture.[170]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  130. ^ "'Australia and Korea: Partners and Friends', Speech to Yonsei University, Seoul". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). Retrieved 10 May 2013. "Australia has even caught the "Korean wave", the renaissance of your popular culture reaching all the way to our shores. We welcomed some of Korea's biggest reality television programs to our country last year – and tens of thousands of young Koreans and Australians watched your best known singing stars perform at a K-Pop concert in Sydney last year. Our friendship is strong and growing and when I return to Australia, I will do so enlivened and inspired by your Korean example." 
  131. ^ "NZ Asia Institute Conference celebrates the New Zealand – Korea "Year of Friendship" 16–17 November 2012". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (New Zealand). Retrieved 10 May 2013. "Korean food and music, both traditional and modern, are becoming well known in New Zealand. Indeed there is now a 4,000 strong association of K-Pop followers in New Zealand. So the 'Korean Wave' is now becoming part of the Kiwi lifestyle." 
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