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The Korean Wave & Domestic News


Note: I hope no one minds that I've expanded this topic to include more than the Korean entertainment industry. It seems convenient to broaden the topic, rather than create multiple new topics—especially since this thread has already spilled over into other subjects. If there are objections, please let me know and I'll make the adjustment. —nchristi


54th Anniversary Special] `Korean Wave' Cannot Be Complacent
 

By Han Eun-jung
Staff Reporter
In a matter of a mere half a decade South Korean pop culture has grown to be the up and coming thing, invading virtually all of Asia. The hippest, most intoxicating thing the east of the pacific has seen since the heyday of J-pop or Hong Kong cinema, the term Hallyu(Korean Wave) has even been coined referring to the rush of local culture hitting the shores of neighboring countries.

However surprising enough, recent revelations made by the Military Manpower Administration in September that three popular actors were among 130 men who had tainted their results in a routine checkup in the hope of avoiding military service has posed some neglected and newly surfacing questions on the reality and future of Korean Wave.

Among the three alleged draft dodging actors was dark, handsome heartthrob Song Seung-hun, one the major stars to be caught up in the whirlwind of the Korean Wave craze. Last week a group of lawmakers from the ruling Uri party made a bid to postpone Song's draft date so that he could go on with the taping of ``Sulpun Yonga(A Sad Love Song),'' a soon-to-premier drama backed by Japanese and Chinese sponsors. Stated in the petition submitted to the Military Manpower Administration that Song's participation was vital as the success of the program would lead to the further spread of the Korean Wave and the country would benefit from the accruing of economic benefits and an image facelift as the reason for the bid. The efforts were made in vain as the Military Manpower Administration announced they would stand firm to the legislation.

Song had broken the law to avoid a duty that every South Korean male must carry out, however, despite this, it was the lawmakers themselves who were willing to bend the rules for a certain criminal. The situation is indicative of how important the Korean wave has become, or as people have come to believe.

In the long run, relying on the same faces and drama formulas will not be enough to go the far distances required for Korea to really settle as a trend-setting pop culture empire as so recently acclaimed. Just as Song is not the only actor up for the role ``Sulpun Yonga,'' there will be other South Korean superstars to capture the hearts of Chinese and Japanese girls and there will be other dramas and movies.

``The problem we are already facing is here _ if you look closely enough we're coming up with contents not for the sake of the material itself but so that we can take it abroad and make fast money while the going is good,'' actor Ahn Jae-wook said. The actor turned singer was one of the Korean Wave forerunners who was already knocking down the doors of China in the late 90s.

``With nearsighted goals like making the best of what we have been lucky enough to achieve up to this point and trying to get away with the same old act; I have to say that we really have no future,'' he added.

As for the current ``Kyoul Yonga(Winter Sonata)'' craze that has reportedly turned Japan upside down, ``It really wouldn't be a surprise if our dramas were to make in Japan for the time being. There really is no reason for it not to? Whether we like it or not, we've learned a lot from early 90's Japanese TV and these influences are reflected in our dramas today. Unless we come up with something new and truly unique we can't expect to make it.''

For those who think that the recent popularity of ``Winter Sonata'' translates into an easy entrance into Japan may have to give it another thought.

``The drama `Winter Sonata' is what triggered this boom,'' Katsuko Shiraishi, a 42-year old bank employee said in an e-mail interview.

``Up until then very little was known about Korean pop culture except maybe BoA. 'Winter Sonata' offered something new. Audiences saw a touching romantic love story that hadn't been able to see on Japanese TV for years,'' the Fukuoka native said.

``From the music I've heard so far I don't really see anything new, I see a lot of what was offered by Da Pump and Orange Range and other J-pop artists. I also can't help but getting the impression that K-pop stars are copying J-pop. Unless Korean popular culture offers something new fast and on a continuous basis, the craze that appeared with a boom will exit in the same way, that is with a boom,'' she added.

Local dramas as well as pop music are riding high on the Korean Wave in China. Jao Jing, a 24-year old Chinese graduate student studying at a university in Seoul, says that the younger generation rave over the dramas because they well depict everyday lives of everyday people and draws up love stories between couples more realistically than local productions.

``Chinese culture and South Korean culture beam two very different and distinct colors. So far the flow of Korean culture products looks as if it has complimented what was not available in the local scene. In order for Korean pop culture to secure its own place and develop a steady fan base I hope to see developments made according to the changing times,'' Jao added.

According to the Korean National Tourism Office(KNTO) over the past year the nation has seen a 36 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting from neighboring countries which means 2.7 million more people than this time of year 2003 as opposed to a 10 percent increase in tourists coming from non-Asian countries. Industry experts see that this increase in tourists owes to the Korean Wave fever that's blazing across the Asian continent.

Even on weekend afternoons Nami Island in Kanwon province overflows with ``Winter Sonata'' and Bae Yong-joon (who played the lead role) fans coming from Japan and as far as southeast Asia. Though the island has been reinstated since the airing of the drama in 2001, not a single souvenir worth buying can be found in the few existing gift shops.

One of the KNTO's newest in many marketing strategies is the Korean Entertainment Hall of Fame which opened it doors in state-run group's main offices September. Live-size cardboard figures of the stars stand in the corners and memorabilia are on display but the selection of souvenirs they can choose from is still far from satisfying _ keychains and postcards are just not enough.

Han Bok-ryo, the successor to the holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 38 in Chosun Kingdom royal cuisine and consultant to the popular drama ``Taejanggum(The Great Changgum)'' mentioned in a recent interview with The Korea Times that bringing tourists in from overseas is not where our jobs should end but rather should begin. ``Fans from Taiwan come and visit Korea after having watched `The Great Changgum' eager to learn more about royal cuisine. We do what we can but is not enough to meet the needs for every tourist. More attention should be given at a government-level to promote our culture at every stage for the Korean Wave to be an ongoing phenomenon,'' she said.

Building castles in the sand is how some describe the settling of Korean pop culture overseas and its efforts to clear land and make its own place.

However, with vast and magnificent sand castles on the seashore all it could take is one strong blow or perhaps a few softer tides for it to fall into ruins. If appropriate measures are not met and changes not made, the pop culture scene may just be negligent enough to let all efforts go to waste. In the worst case, out of all the waves, the same wave that motivated the constructing of the castle, Hallyu could be the one to make the final devastating blow.

ejh09@koreatimes.co.kr
 
Credit: Korea Times - Nov. 1 '04

Last edited by nchristi, 1/23/2006, 6:35 pm
11/13/2004, 12:53 pm Link to this post Send PM to star1
 
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Re: The Korean Wave




Korean TV Drama "Autumn in My Heart" Gains Popularity in Egypt
 Korean television dramas have long been popular around Asia, but now they're making waves further afield.
The drama "Autumn in My Heart" was a hit in Egypt this year, and the series ''Winter Sonata'' is scheduled to air there in November. A flood of e-mails arrived at the South Korean Embassy in Egypt after the 18th and the final episode of the popular Korean TV drama "Autumn in My Heart" was broadcast on Monday.

One of the e-mails was sent from a law professor at a university in Cairo saying he watched the drama every night with his wife and his two children, and proposed the embassy to invite the leading actors to Egypt to build closer ties between the two countries.

A female college student asked the embassy to rebroadcast the drama again and to introduce more Korean TV dramas. In fact, embassy officials say, the Egyptian broadcaster will begin airing another hit drama series, "Winter Sonata," after mid-November.

Originally aired in South Korea in September 2000, the series depicts the tragic love story between half brother and sister. A surge in the popularity of Korean pop culture has been sweeping across Asia, raising hopes of increased revenues by Korean broadcasters who until recently were mainly focused on their home market. The phenomenon has even led to the coining of a new phrase called "Han Ryu" or Korean wave.

However, the latest statistics show the wave is having a lower-than-expected effect on the Korean economy. According to statistics released by the Korea International Trade Association, Korea's export of dramas and movies to lucrative Asian countries, mainly China, Japan, and Hong Kong, were lower than those to countries originally considered non-strategic markets.

Officials at the trade association say the latest statistics demonstrate the government should step up measures to boost exports of Korean movies and dramas to beyond Asian countries.

Arirang TV

credit: The Chosun Ilbo - Sep 24-04
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Re: The Korean Wave


Very interesting reading, star1. I can comment only from an American perspective (German/British extraction), not having a clue on how Asians might view South Korean Wave. I’ve done some soul searching on this subject of late because even I find rather strange my fascination for South Korean entertainment and culture. (Not to mention that someone recently asked me, Do you wish you had been born Korean?)

While I agree with the staff writer’s view on the political, that it’s ultimately about as foolish as you can get to base your country’s future (and adjudication) on the sand castle of a current entertainment fad [Bi’s going to get old and wrinkled sooner than later!–make that both Bi’s], still the Korean Wave could be a tangible factor in improving S.K. economy, if developed properly.

As for the entertainment/culture itself, what I, personally, like about it is that I “feel at home.” Obviously, that’s untrue on an intimate cultural level, so, what’s going on here?

I feel comfortable with the idea of South Korea because I perceive it as similar to the U.S. politically and in pop entertainment. Of all the Asian countries (those with which I am familiar), S.K. seems most ruled by law and order, more similar to what I am used to. For example, I feel free to travel in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia, Western Europe, the Mediterranean. I would not feel nearly as free to travel to the following without having personal access to someone who is substantially connected to high places in the respective regions: Mexico, Central America, most of South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Bottom line is, I guess, that S.K. strikes me as being more officially “westernized” in its form of government, commerce, entertainment, and treatment of women.

I understand that South Korea is having a hard time economically at present, but I am uncomfortable with application of law selectively being cast overboard in favor of making some bucks in Japan with “Winter Sonata.” We all know that, as Dylan said, Money doesn’t talk, it screams. I just hate the assault–especially when it’s upon those who can’t scream back.

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Wow - thanks for the interesting articles, star1. It is said - South Korea is one of the strictest nations I have seen in the world - can't believe they're modern. Isn't there a law in some nations that entertainers and doctors are exempt from military service? I would imagine that the same would go for South Korea.. but I guess not.

In Japan, military service is 100% voluntary.
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credits: chosun/sports

Who are the popular “Korean Wave” stars in China? Recently, in celebration of the 12th anniversary of China-Korea establishing diplomatic relationship, Shanghai information website “eastday.com (둥팡, 東方)” introduces top Korean stars representing “Korean Wave” in China.

At first, “eastday.com” defines the meaning of “Korean Wave” as the “special cultural phenomenon appeared in China starting from 1980 and has special significant meaning to the young generation.”

“All about Eve” was the first drama created the “Korean Wave” which started Chinese fans’ enthusiastic reactions to Korean star. The lead actress of the drama Chae Rim’s pure and lovely outward appearance made her become a popular star loved by Chinese male fans.

Won Bin was well-known in China after his drama “Autumn Tale” was aired last year in China. Afterwards, many directors in China and Hong Kong invite Won Bin to lead their projects. Many fans are waiting for Won Bin’s new movie or drama.

In speaking of “Korean Wave”, the first generation Ahn Jae Wook’s drama “A Wish upon a Star” touched many female fans’ hearts. His songs are also well-liked in China. If a Chinese is asked which Korean he knows, the person would answer “Ahn Jae Wook”.

Kangta was the leader of the music group “H.O.T” and he grabs many young girls’ hearts. Although the popularity of Kangta decreased in Korea, the number of his Chinese fans has been increasing.

“Korea Handsome Man” Jang Dong Gun is known in China via his movie “Friends”. Especially, his collaboration with Cecilia Cheung in a movie this year makes his popularity in China higher.

“Dance Singer” Lee Jung Hyun’s dance song are heard frequently in many stores. Many Chinese singers sing LJH’s songs which makes LJH continuously famous in China.

Recently, angel-like Choi Ji Woo and the lead actor Bae Yong Jun in “Winter Love Song” soak many Chinese fans’ hearts. “eastday.com” even mentions BYJ’s popularity in Japan. Many Japanese female fans wish that they could marry to BYJ and visit Korea.


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Interesting reading. Reminds me of an article from a Japanese news source I read a while back on the difference between Chinese and Japanese acceptance of foreigners. (Generalization that Japan is a closed society, unwelcoming to foreigners, while China sees itself as the great magnanimous center of the universe, welcoming all foreigners with open arms--able to handle with ease any "situation" that may arise.)

Reading the article you posted made me think of that, the perspective being that the Korean Wave was begun in China. They may be correct, for all I know-- it just made me smile.

But what me smile even more was:
classblockquote“Korea Handsome Man” Jang Dong Gun is known in China via his movie “Friends”. Especially, his collaboration with Cecilia Cheung in a movie this year makes his popularity in China higher.

If you happen to come upon a good "hand" shot, would you post it up here? emoticon
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nchristi, interesting, huh? You know, I think we drama fans should send letters to these papers telling our views and devotion to c/j/k dramas, etc. Has anybody out there ever done this? We need to let them know we exist and are contributing $$$$ and attention.

excerpt from Chosun

On 11/19, Choi Min Shik, Jang Jin Young, Bae Yong Jun, and Im Soo Jung attend the “Handprint” event sponsored by the 25th “Blue Dragon Film Awards”. News media from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and China also attend this event held at Yongsan CGV11. The ceremony of “Blue Dragon Film Awards” will be held at National Theater of Seoul on 11/29

Image

handshot for nchristi (Bae Yong Jun whose fans helped celebrate his b'day in Aug./credit Chosun)
Image

Last edited by star1, 11/26/2004, 10:28 am
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NHK's Ogawa Junko Explains Popularity of Korean Dramas in Japan

¡°NHK has broadcasted many popular foreign dramas including the U.S. drama ER, but we have never received as enthusiastic a response from viewers as when we broadcasted 'Winter Sonata.' With the widespread individualism and ambiguous gender roles in Japan, it seems that warm emotions of Koreans have appealed to Japanese,¡± said Ogawa Junko, the representative producer for ¡°Winter Sonata,¡± who is visiting Korea. ¡°Winter Sonata¡± was so popular in Japan that the ¡°Yongsama (nickname of Korean actor Bae Yong-jun) Wave¡± swept the country.
Ogawa also said, ¡°A Korean drama about first love caused nostalgia for the innocent and warm times of decades ago among Japanese who have forgotten those times. In particular, the clearly beautiful and submissive image of Yoo-jin played by Choi Ji-woo is similar to that of Japanese actress Yosinaga Sayuri, who was very popular as the heroine of melodramas in the 60s, but it is hard to see such an image in today¡¯s Japanese women,¡± adding, ¡°I also think that Bae Yong-jun, who played Min-hyung, is very popular among Japanese female audience because he has a noble-looking appearance as well as modest, gentle and trustworthy image.¡±

¡°What makes ¡®Winter Sonata¡¯ different from Japanese dramas is that it enriches the story by focusing not only on the life of main characters but also on other characters such as their families. Also, it shows the main characters¡¯ sincere attitude toward other characters and boasts poetic lines. Usually, young women are fans of foreign dramas, but in the case of ¡®Winter Sonata,¡¯ what surprised us is that there were many old male fans. In other words, all people -- from teens to 90s -- are the fans of Korean dramas,¡± Ogawa continued to say.

Staring her career at NHK in 1985, Ogawa was in charge of broadcasting ¡°Winter Sonata¡± when it was first on the air last May through the satellite transmitting and experienced the popularity of the drama. Although the drama is now being broadcast through ground wave transmitting, she is still involved in the work related to Korean dramas such as making a special documentary about ¡°Winter Sonata¡± and importing other Korean dramas, continuing her ties with Korean dramas.

She said that NHK decided to import ¡°Daejanggeum¡± next. The foremost criterion for the decision is the viewing rate in Korea. ¡°We review the whole drama, not just part of it, and interview the director and actors and actresses before deciding on a drama to import. We cannot be negligent in our work since we are operated using television receiving fees people pay. At first, we hesitated to decide on ¡®Deajanggeum¡¯ because Japanese viewers may not identify with the drama since its background is the Chosun Dynasty. But in the end, we decided to import it because it deals with the success story of a woman in a very exciting way,¡± said Ogawa. Finally he said smiling, ¡°I hope Korean dramas continue to gain great popularity in Japan so that I can maintain my personal ties with them forever.¡±

(Jeong Si-hang, polygon@chosun.com )


Note: hear yea! hear yea! Many of the above statements (especially paragraph 2) reflect precisely why a great many, white, non-Asian Americans have grabbed hold of these wonderful dramas. I personally intend to submit a response to the above. Truth be told, Choi and Bae portray the roles of characters which are endearing to all generations of all cultures and , in addition, a great portion of the drama takes place in the most extraordinary winter scenes imagineable -- not in a bedroom while they disrobe! American filmmakers, you can take THAT to the bank!

Last edited by star1, 11/23/2004, 10:43 pm
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I wonder if many racist Japanese have complained against this drama being aired in the Japanese islands?
11/24/2004, 1:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Hiroshi66   Send PM to Hiroshi66 AIM
 
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Hiroshi, everything I have come across via internet and news programs, has been positive. In fact, when they held the 'debut' for Bae/Choi there were over 5,000 adoring/screaming fans w/reservs for the hotel party. Can you even imagine what it must have been like for the police/authorities to maintain some sort of order? Unbelievable!

I may be naive, but, Hiroshi, I don't understand what type of 'racial' protest' such a drama would command. If viewed, I do not see what possible negative issues could surface. Winter Sonata was unique w/great actors, superb, hauntingly beautiful music and extraordinary winter scenery -- and most of the drama was filmed outdoors. Amazing. This drama will forever remain "In My Memory" .

I watched the awards show when both actors recd their awards that year. It was certainly entertaining. Because the drama seemed to go on and on and on and on (viewers loving every minute, never getting enough), they 'roasted Bae and Choi' by skits showing them as they got older and older and older, wearing wigs, that got longer and longer and longer and turning grayer and grayer and white, yet as they aged and walked w/canes, they never got together in the skit, and 'the other girl ' who wanted him in the drama, also got older and kept chasing him . It was so funny but done in good taste. Both actors blushed about it all and Bae almost collapsed w/laughter. (Do you know that there was not even 'a kiss' exchanged until the absolute end? Even then, it really was more of a hug w/a suggestion that a kiss could happen.) Quite a drama!

Sorry you raised the question? The whole Japanese attraction to Winter Sonata repeatedly in the news w/only more and more of the fans flocking to purchase every little collectible they can get w/WS logos/pics.



Last edited by star1, 11/24/2004, 5:46 pm
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