Growing up in a non western country I was still exposed to a lot of western/Hollywood media production. I grew up watching shows like Tom and Jerry, That’s So Raven and Lizzie Mcguire. Western media was everywhere and for awhile that was the most prominent culture I was aware of as it was the most dominant. Then in high school I had friends telling me about this Korean drama called ‘Boys over Flowers’. A large majority of the students in my high school could mimic the dance moves from the music video Sorry, Sorry which was a popular song by a Korean boy band called SuperJunior. It was at this point where the Korean media industry was gaining much more popularity internationally.
News media and trade magazines have recognized the rise of Korean popular culture in Asia by dubbing it the ‘Korean wave’ Hallyu or Hanryu in Korean (Shim 2006). Also supporting the South Korean film industry has been active government controls against copying and piracy, which have allowed the film industry to produce many films and assure their overall profitability given very strong DVD and aftermarket sales (Ryoo 2009). Korean drama, movies and music became such a big hit in Asia, from China to Taiwan, Japan, Phillipines, Malaysia and many more. Soon the Korean waved moved to the United States when a Korean all-girl group girls generation was brought to perform on the David Lettermen show.
This Korean wave brought around a whole different set of cultural values and practices into the international arena. The style and tune was very different to the kind of media Hollywood produces especially when it comes to their music industry. You can watch this video that shows western youtubers reaction and thoughts on K-pop music videos.
It’s not just in style that things differ in, the way these two industry’s run are different as well. While Hollywood productions in music have a more individualistic approach, K-pop has a more universal similar style and tone for all it’s artists, record labels choose and mould people they think are fit to be Korean pop stars. Check out this article by Christine Choi that describes the difference between Hollywood and K-pop.
The Korean wave is a huge indication of how cultural flows are transformed in the global arena (Ryoo 2009). For awhile Hollywood had a bigger control over films that were exported internationally. The most prominent culture in other countries was Western culture. Now we can see a much more diverse sense of cultural hybridity. Transnational popular culture engenders a creative form of hybridization working towards re-imagining regional identities through the reciprocal cultural exchanges in the global/local context (Ryoo 2009). Essentially, the entertainment industry is a great way to establish local culture but still have elements that appeal to a wider more international audience. This in turn produces a better avenue for the intertwine of culture.
It’s not only Korean media that is gaining more attention, other industries such as Bollywood and Nollywood have been emerging and generating a fair amount of international audience. It would be great if more countries develop their entertainment industry to reach an international platform especially as our world in getting more interwoven and it would help a great deal in increasing cultural flows.
Ryoo, W. (2009). Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave. Asian Journal of Communication, 19(2), 137-151.
Shim, D, 2006, Hybridity and the rise of korean pop culture in Asia, Sage publications, viewed 4 September 2015 <http://www2.fiu.edu/~surisc/Hybridity%20and%20the%20rise%20of%20Korean%20popular%20culture%20in%20Asia.pdf>
Yecies, B, Parleying Culture against Trade: Hollywood’s Affairs with Korea’s Screen Quotas, Korea Observer, 38(1), Spring 2007, 1-32. Published by the Institute of Korean Studies, Seoul.