Imperialism

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Asian Social Science

August, 2009

‘Korean Wave’ — The Popular Culture, Comes as Both Cultural and Economic Imperialism in the East Asia Xiaowei Huang Zhuhai Campus, Beijing Institute of Technology E-mail: janey710@yahoo.com Abstract Korean popular culture such as movies, TV dramas, and pop music is overwhelmingly powerful and TV dramas are one of the most remarkable popular cultures of these. They are not only popular in terms of the fanaticalness of audiences and fans, but also bring considerable profit to the national income. Cultural imperialism to be a new form of economic imperialism. The Korean wave brings a different level of Korean fever in certain East Asian countries, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines. This paper aims to analyse the changing position of audiences and consumers. It discusses the role of the media, especially, television, which is not only to provide entertainment to its audiences, but is also to change the audiences’ consumption. Keywords: Korea wave, Media, Cultural imperialism, Economy, Audience ‘If imperialism is the dominance of one nation of another, media imperialism is the dominance of one nation’s media system by another, and cultural imperialism the dominance of one nation’s culture by another. The problem is that the media are the main vehicles for the transfer of cultural values from one nation or society to another. The term ‘culture’ or ‘way of life’ is also fraught with definitional problems. Some scholars choose to use media imperialism in a narrow way, examining only the transfer of media products and media practices, while other see the term as synonymous with cultural imperialism’ (Williams, 2003: 218). 1. Introduction The term ‘Korean Wave’, also ‘known as Hallyu or Hanryu, refers to the popularity of South Korean popular culture in other Asian countries.’ (Note 1) Korean popular culture such as movies, TV dramas, and pop music is overwhelmingly powerful and TV dramas are one of the most remarkable popular cultures of these. They are not only popular in terms of the fanaticalness of audiences and fans, but also bring considerable profit to the national income. The numbers of tourists visiting Korea was 5, 347, 468 in 2000. (Note 2) Even though there were two major events such as September 11th and the FIFA World Cup in 2001 and 2002, they did not affect the tourists’ determination to visit Korea. The percentage of tourists increased to 3.9% in 2002. (Note 3) The figures show that the tendency of Korea is not merely based on the pleasure and gratification of audiences’ desires, but also on people taking further action to visit Korea personally. In particular, visiting the shooting locations of certain TV dramas has become the norm. Culture refers to ‘the beliefs, way of life, art, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society’. (Note 4) In the case of economy, it is defined as ‘the system by which a country’s money and goods are produced and used, or a country considered in this way’. (Note 5) The definitions of culture and economy show that they are two different categories in sociology. However, the phenomenon of the Korean wave is an evidence of how cultural imperialism develops as economic imperialism. The relationship between them is intricate and interactive. O’Sullivan et al. (1983) defines ‘culture is seen as the sphere in which class, gender, race, and other inequalities are naturalized and represented in forms which sever (as far as possible) the connection between these and economic and political inequalities’ (cited in Tulloch, 1990: 8). Cultural imperialism to be a new form of economic imperialism. The Korean wave brings a different level of Korean fever in certain East Asian countries, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines. From food, language, fashion, to tourism, the phenomenon of Korean wave permeates through each corner of East Asia.

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Vol. 5, No. 8...
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