Gangnam style is an overnight sensation that hit the world by storm, and it is the first Korean music video that got 100 million views on YouTube. The Korean singer/rapper Psy then became an international star that reached the number two spot on the American Billboard Charts and number one on the Chinese music charts. He was even invited on the Ellen Show to perform his dance next to Britney Spears and Ellen Degeneres herself. These are prove that the Korean Wave (or Hallyu in Korea) is gaining more recognition not only in Asia, but also the world.
With Korean culture in music, movies, and TV drama gaining more visibility worldwide, Korean brands are also doing better than before. Cultural exports were up to 4.2 billion in 2011. In a survey conducted by Korean Chamber of Commerce & Industry (2012), 82.2% of participating Korean corporations responded that Hallyu enhanced the positive image of Korea and Korean products, and also increased the sales of the company. This sales increasing effect was especially strong in service industry including culture (86.7%), tourism (85.7%), retail (75%) and also in manufacturing industry including food (45.2%), electronics (43.3%), cosmetics (35.5%), and automotive (28.1%) (GlobeOne, 2013). This report serves to give some insights on how Hallyu began and developed through the years, how it let to the rise of Korean brands, and how it has affected marketing in Asia and the world.
The Rise of Hallyu
Back in 1980s, the government made a decision to control the television networks so that there would not any publication of materials that are politics related. Producers were told to make any TV series as long as it is not political related. Hence, drama are based in olden times were popular because it would not have any relation to present day politics. Another favourite genre would be drama focused on love stories. These led to TV dramas like Winter Sonata, depicting a love story that became a hit in Asia, and Daejanggeum (“Da Changjing”), a series set in the olden days in the royal kitchen of the palace, which was also gaining popularity. This period between 1995 to 2005 where Korean Drama (or K-Drama) were the drivers of Hallyu was termed the Hallyu 1.0. Then, Hallyu was more product-oriented, in which people remember the drama more than the characters.
Currently, we have entered Hallyu 2.0, which is driven mostly by K-Pop, and it is an age where Hallyu is star-oriented, meaning people remember the singers much more than the music they create. Big Korean bands in Hallyu 2.0 include Big Bang, SHINee, Girls’ Generation, and Super Junior. K-Pop groups are able to gain popularity so quickly, likely because they focus a lot on the aesthetics and the music video. As in Korea they have a much stronger culture of watching TV, most groups releases their music together with their music video, and is played through TV before it reaches the radio. This suggests that the put in a lot of effort in their video to create an appealing image of themselves to the consumers, by looking professional and beautiful. Much of the cultural products are distributed overseas through social media and social network sites (SNSs). (Dal J.Y, 2012)
Reasons for the Growth of Korean Brands
1) Hybrid Culture of Hallyu
Korean popular culture can be considered as a hybrid between the East and the West. Korean movies and dramas are influenced by Hollywood, and K-pop sounds are adjusted to make it more appealing to foreign audience with the use of heavy beats. Also, many artists are releasing more than one versions of their music just to make it more appealing for the foreign audience. One prominent example would be BoA’s single “Eat you Up” released in 2008, in which two music video were released. One was directed in Japan and the other in Los Angeles, likely to appeal to both the Asian and western markets.
Another Korean Boy Band, “EXO” actually is made up of six members from Korea and six...
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