Globalization of Korean Popular Culture in Asia

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Globalization of Korean Popular Culture in Asia

1. Introduction
Since 1990s, Korean Popular Culture has had a strong influence in Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore. This new popular cultural phenomenon in Asia is called the “Korean Wave”, also known as hallyu in Korean pronunciation, which refers to the surge of popularity of Korean popular culture abroad, particularly in Asia(Kin 284). The “Korean Wave” is first coined in mid-1999 by journalists in Beijing who are surprised by the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and popular Culture in China(Fiaola 1). Korean Wave certainly brings a big hit to Asian countries, but at the same time, some anti-Korean feelings are aroused as they considered the Korean Wave as a threat that may affect their lives. In China, one of the places where that were first hit by the Korean Wave, Korean TV dramas and pop songs are popular among people. This aroused anti-Korean feeling from the Chinese directors that they believe the Korean Wave is destroying the Chinese entertaining industries. Hong Kong is also affected by the Korean popular culture since the release of loads of Korean films and TV dramas, together with the associated artists and theme songs, while one of the Korean TV dramas even broke the rating record of Hong Kong TV dramas. These proved the popularity of Korean popular culture in Hong Kong. Same as China and Hong Kong, Taiwan is also hit by the Korean Wave. After the dubbing of Korean TV dramas, Taiwanese start to follow the TV dramas. Because there is increasing amount of Taiwanese people started watching Korean dramas, more and more Korean dramas are dubbed into Chinese. Some producers of Taiwan TV stations even stopped making new local dramas but purchase Korean TV dramas instead. Japan also bought imports TV dramas from Korea, which helps Korean artists and singers to successfully gain popularity in Japan. No matter positive or negative attitudes towards the Korean Wave, it can be clearly seen that the Korean popular culture have an immense popularity in Asia. However, the Korean Wave is not formed in one or two years. The Korean Wave first starts from Korean TV dramas in mid-1990s, followed by films and theme songs, together with pop songs, associated artists and entertaining programs in the 21st century. As a result, Korean popular culture gradually spread into the Asian countries and became one of the major popular cultures in Asia. In order to have a more specific study on Korean popular culture, in this essay, Korea is referred to South Korea while Korean popular culture mainly specifies TV drama serials, films, pop songs and associated artists and entertaining programs. The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons of why Korean popular culture can successfully spread into the Asian countries, including both subjective and objective factors. Subjective factors are qualities of Korean entertaining industries and pop stars and the attitude of Korean towards entertaining industries while objective factors are globalization and hybridity. Finally, the impacts of the Korean Wave will be discussed, including cultural imperialism.

2. Subjective Factor: Qualities of Korean Entertaining Industries and Pop Stars To begin with, for the subjective factor that facilitates the spread of Korean popular culture, the Korean entertaining industries and artists produce high quality products, including films, TV dramas, pop songs and variety programs, with associated artists and pop stars, which attract great attention of audience from Asian countries and then spread Korean popular culture to Asia. Firstly, the Korean entertaining industries, including motion picture companies and TV stations, emphasize in producing good quality films, TV dramas and, music and entertaining programs, which help spread Korean popular culture to Asia. For films, motion picture companies choose the best scripts to produce movies would...
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