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Why Does Hallyu Matter?

The Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea

Jeongmee Kim

When I was in Korea in the summer of 2006 I heard the term Hallyu (sometimes spelt Hanryu or Hanliu) used to describe a dizzying variety of things. Hallyu roughly translates as the Korean wave and is used in relation to numerous Korean cultural practices. It initially covered areas such as TV shows, stars and pop songs but also, as the Korean Parliamentary Culture and Tourism Research Group explains, The meaning of Hallyu has increasingly expanded to include Korean lifestyle such as food, fashion and sports and so on.1 Over time, as Dean Visser states in What Hip Asians Want, Hallyus usage has over time come to describe all things Korean from food and music to eyebrow shaping and shoe styles.2 Jane Kagan, for example, goes so far as to suggest that the choreographed and uniform Korean clapping at the 2002 World Cup was a part of Hallyu.3 Dong-Hwan Kwon includes in the realm of Hallyu the export of Korean technological goods to other Asian countries.4 Hallyu has in fact come to refer to so much that its actual meaning is now hard to pin down other than to signify a perceived success of something Korean. Just as unclear as to what Hallyu specically means are the origins of the term, there being at least three candidates for its derivation.5 The rst candidate is a promotional CD of Korean pop music made in 1999 by the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism and distributed through its embassies. The title of the CD was Hallyu which meant in this case the style of Korean pop music. With the success of Korean pop music in China soon after, the Chinese press reported Hallyu hits China and the Korean press apparently adopted this term from then on. The second possibility is that the term came from Taiwan when the press were reporting their surprise at the success of Korean dramas and music. They used the phrase HailHallyu, which translates as winter ice storm in summer and is a local expression for something happening very unexpectedly. So again it is possible that Hallyu ltered into popular usage from here. The third possibility is that the term originated in China in 1991 when a Beijing newspaper used Hallyu (translated as cold stream) to express concern at the behaviour of certain sectors of Chinese


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youth who were becoming fascinated with Korean pop music and drama. Like a cold stream, Korean culture was seen to be relentlessly trickling into their cultural space. Despite the vagueness of its denition and origins, the concept of Hallyu has become a rallying cry within Korea for the perceived success of its cultural industries in Asia. Thus, as Hallyu is so all-encompassing and yet so vague, for the purposes of clarity this article will focus on television drama to analyse what the term relates to, but also what it has come to mean, particularly to Koreans. Hallyu television drama has become popular in a number of Asian countries including Singapore,6 the Philippines,7 Vietnam,8 Taiwan,9 Mongolia10 and China.11 The pattern has tended to be a breakthrough series such as Endless Love/ Gaeul donghwa (KBS Productions, 2000) in the Philippines, Fireworks/ Boolkkotnoli (MBC Productions, 2006) in Taiwan and Winter Sonata/ Gyeoul yeonga (KBS Productions, 2002) in Japan followed by the mass importation of television drama from Korea. Academically, there have been numerous accounts attempting to explain the rise of Hallyu in Asia. Critics like Sae-Kyung Yoo and Kyung-Sook Lee12 have applied Joseph Straubhaars notion of cultural proximity,13 which posits that exported cultural products from culturally similar countries have a better chance of popular success than those from more culturally unfamiliar ones. Yoo and Lee examine the common features in the content of Hallyu dramas to explain their appeal, concluding that the most successful contain Confucian values that cross certain national borders within Asia. Eun-Kyung Yang contends however that such a conclusion fails to take into account the popularity of such dramas in the rest of Asia, particularly in the South East, where shared value systems are far less easily identied in countries with widely dierent religious and social convictions.14 Dong-Hwan Kwon suggests in his discussion of the rise of Hallyu television drama in the Philippines that rather than just shared social and cultural values, popular aspects have proven to be the production quality, succinct plots and fashions on display in the dramas. In terms of social values, rather than Confucian ones, these shows appeal more broadly in their depictions of a community based on hierarchical family relationships between elders and youngsters, extended family relationships, which most other Asian countries can understand.15 John Nguyeat Erni and Siew Keng Chua argue that racial proximity is another factor that can explain the popularity of Asian-wide television drama as there are shared norms of beauty (male and female), mannerisms, styles in clothing, a sense of Asianess in contrast to perceived western outlooks, and so on.16 Jane O. Vinculado, conducting interviews in the Philippines, found that audiences felt they could relate to the physical characteristics of the characters . . . they are not alien to them compared to the Caucasian-looking characters in the Latin novellas which had been the most popular television imports prior to Hallyu drama.17 One could argue, therefore, that it is not just what Hallyu oers, but what it oers as an alternative that has contributed to its success. Rather than Latin telenovelas and Western dramas, Korean Hallyu presents a general and recognisable Asian-ness, a factor that Japanese television drama also proted from in the international Asian

Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea


market during the 1990s. Koichi Iwabuchi, for example, examined the portrayal of romance among young people in Japanese dramas and proposed a transnational Asian understanding of how social and family structures act as obstacles to young love.18 The Korea presented in many of the most popular Hallyu dramas is a fantasy space in which modern life is conducted in a world to which traditional values of a bygone age are rigidly adhered. In the case of Autumn in My Heart/ Gaeul donghwa (Seok-Ho Yun, 2000), for example, romantic love rather than sexual attraction is always foregrounded. This is particularly evident in the scene where the protagonists Joon-Suh (Seung-Heon Song) and Eun-Suh (Hye-Kyo Song) run away together and hide out in a remote farmhouse. There is no explicit act of physical contact between them. Instead their time as lovers is presented with a childlike innocence as they sleep in separate beds, keep their clothes on and endlessly talk about their feelings for each other. Their strong sense of family obligation, duty and social propriety prevent them, even when alone, from behaving as the modern young couple they clearly are. Such old fashioned sentiment has exported well, as Dong-Hwan Kwons research illustrates. Conducting interviews he found that for many Philippino Hallyu watchers an important reason for why they preferred Korean dramas over Western ones was because of the conservative nature of the love scenes. One interviewee emphasised that it was, Not only the love scenes but also the way they dress . . . I think if you watch Mexican telenovelas, even western ones, the girls are usually very made up . . . they have very heavy make up and they have . . . [plunging] necklines [and] short hemlines . . . but in Asian especially Korean [drama] they dress like how we dress everyday.19 Political and economic reasons have also been analysed to explain the success of Hallyu. Doobo Shim argues that media deregulation (a number of Asian governments legalising cable TV) in the 1990s accounts for the success of the Hallyu dramas in Asia, as it opened previously closed doors to the large-scale export of Korean dramas into several Asian markets.20 Seung-Hae Son describes how the emergence of cable and satellite created competition between TV channels within the importing countries, which, in turn, led to aggressive promotion and advertising on the part of channel providers within each importing country.21 As the number of channels grew, so the market share of each decreased, making it less practical to produce home-grown dramas and nancially more attractive to import ready made and comparatively cheaper products. Dal-Yong Jin makes another observation, suggesting that the crisis experienced in the Tiger economy during the 1990s made the more aordable Asian dramas the preferable option in relation to the more expensive Western imports.22 Yet what I nd particularly revealing about the Hallyu phenomenon is not what Hallyu means or why it is so successful, but the peculiar way in which the term has been applied. Koreans cannot label cultural products as Hallyu straightaway. As Jin-Seok Kang explains in his article Hanryu is the Cultural Code of East Asia,23 Hallyu is a term that can only be applied to a cultural product once it has been exposed to foreign audiences. In other words, not every Korean drama, lm or pop


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song, no matter how popular in Korea, will be labelled Hallyu only those that have been exported and done so successfully. The TV drama Winter Sonata is a good example of how a programme, its stars and director all became Hallyu. It was sold to the Japanese network NHK for 444,000,000 Won (22,000,000 Won per episode), the highest price ever paid by Japan for a Korean dramatic export. Its Korean star Yong-Jun Bae became a household name in Japan after its release in 2003, achieving a level of popularity that could not be ignored even in Korea. He was called Yong-sama (sama being an honoric title reserved for Japanese royalty) and gained a huge female following in Japan. Japanese magazines and newspapers bought Korean articles for translation in their publications, and Chosun Weekly reported that there were around 50 Japanese reporters working in Korea, assigned to report his movements as well as interview him when ever possible. This, apparently, was because any news on Bae sold magazines and newspapers.24 Yet the impact of Winter Sonata went far beyond the success of its star. In 2003 Gakamigahara City in Japan reconstructed the sets as part of a local festival, including the Nam-I island path, complete with the benches where the two protagonists shared their rst kiss. The city also sold Winter Sonata Bento (Lunch Boxes) containing the menu of what the production team had to eat while making the drama.25 Following such reports it was apparent to Koreans just what an impact its drama was having internationally.26 Winter Sonata was not actually that popular when it rst broadcast in Korea in 2002. But following its Japanese success, it was rebroadcast in April 2005 and did much better. More interestingly perhaps is, after its successful exportation, Winter Sonata was retrospectively labelled a Hallyu drama. Hallyu, therefore, is not a term that is reliant on any particular notion of artistic quality, aesthetic principle or generic content, but rather it is an evaluation of the exportability of Korean products. The term inextricably carries with it the notion of selling Korean-ness to the rest of Asia, and has thus become extremely important to Koreans not only as a source of entertainment but also of national pride. Rather than just being symptomatic of the economic rise of Korea and its investment in its cultural industries, Hallyu has become emblematic of the rise of Korea within Asia and of its cultural inuence on its neighbours. To explain this nationalistic dimension further, I will examine the television drama, Autumn in My Heart, the prequel to Winter Sonata, and the programme that in Korea has been widely accepted as marking the beginning of Hallyu television drama. Autumn in My Heart was rst broadcast in Korea on 18 September 2000 on KBS (Korean Broadcasting System). It received very high ratings, and at its peak of popularity, attracted 45 per cent of Korean viewers.27 Its success led to the producer, Seok-Ho Yun and its four lead actors Seung-Heon Song, Hye-Gyo Song, Bin Won and Chae-Young Han becoming household names. Autumn in My Heart nished on 7 November 2000 after being shown weekly for almost two months. So successful was it that Yun went on to produce three sequels: Winter Sonata (which ran from 14 January 2002 to 9 March 2002), Scent of Summer/ Yeoleum hyangki (which

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ran from 7 July to 8 September 2003) and a belated sequel Spring Waltz/ Bomui walcheu (which ran from 6 March to 16 May 2006). Autumn in My Heart and its three sequels are referred to in Korea as the four seasons series and the locations, mise-en-scne and narratives attempt to echo the mood of each season. For example, Autumn in My Heart is about a romance that briey blooms before coming to a tragic end. It is set against a backdrop of falling leaves and golden hues with a melancholic soundtrack, all suggestive of the titles season. The story of Autumn in My Heart is a tragic love story about a young man, JoonSuh, and a young woman, Eun-Suh. These two people grew up together believing they were brother and sister, sharing a happy life with loving parents. When they were teenagers, Eun-Suh was involved in a serious accident after which a doctor revealed the shocking news that she was not Joon-Suhs biological sister. It turned out that a classmate of Eun-Suh (who disliked her because she was envious of EunSuhs wealth) was his real sister. As a result of this revelation, Joon-Suhs parents take their real daughter back, as she was living a life of poverty, and decide to move to America to start a new life together. They oer to take Eun-Suh with them but she elects to stay behind with her biological mother who lives alone in penury. Next the drama jumps a few years to when Joon-Suh returns to Korea and becomes engaged to a beautiful artist, Yu-Mi (Na-Na Han), whom he met in America. He has been unable to forget Eun-Suh, his estranged sister, and is determined to nd her. In the meantime, she has been working as a janitor at a resort complex to support her family, enduring poverty and an abusive brother. As the series develops, Joon-Suh and Eun-Suh continue to narrowly miss each other, thus building up the suspense for when they nally meet. When they eventually do so, they cannot admit that they have always been in love, again escalating the narrative tension for when they at last admit their true feelings. When they do, their love is met with disapproval from everyone, setting up the well-known tale of starcrossed lovers kept apart by family and social rules. To complicate matters, JoonSuh is forced to return to his anc out of a sense of duty following her attempted suicide. Eun-Suh then learns that she has a terminal illness, a fact that she hides from Joon-Suh. At the end of the series, Joon-Suh discovers the truth and rushes back to her for a blissful last few days before Eun-Suh dies happily with Joon-Suh beside her. The nal scene of the drama shows Jun-Suh walking slowly and with purpose straight towards a fast-approaching truck. Autumn in My Heart is extremely sentimental and in this is indebted to shinpa melodrama, which has been popular in Korea for years. The weekly magazine Hankeoryu 21 explains how Autumn in My Heart is pure shinpa because it contains many of the traditional situations: the tragedy of separation caused by poverty; a female lead with a terminal illness; rivalry between the rich and the poor; putting duty before personal happiness; the foregrounding of destiny and fate.28 The report concludes that the success of Autumn in My Heart clearly shows that shinpa remains a hugely important aspect of Korean popular culture. It has also undoubtedly contributed to the success of Hallyu drama in Asia. For example, the actress, Hae-Sook Kim, who plays Eun-Suhs biological mother, has seen her


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career go from strength to strength in Asia playing the self-sacricing mother in numerous Hallyu dramas, and winning the International Cooperation Award at the 16th Japanese Critics Awards in Tokyo on 27 March 2007.29 Mothers are not alone in their suering, however, as we see almost every main character (including, in an interestingly recent development, male protagonists) crying on a weekly basis. The rather old fashioned nature of Autumn in My Heart as well as producer Yuns other sequels, despite their international success, has received criticism, particularly for producing a picture postcard view of Korea.30 However, it can be argued that this picturesque, over-idealised image of Korea is one of the major reasons for the pride Koreans take in Hallyu. Although unrealistic, it has changed the image of Korea for Asian audiences. For example, in China the impact of Hallyu drama has apparently led to Korea being associated with technical advancement and modern style.31 For the Japanese: Korea conjured up images of dark, noisy, smelly, . . . but now . . . fans associate Korea with beautiful things.32 This projected image has also had an important impact on Korean tourism. In 2003 Park Young Su, Assistant bureau chief at the Korean National Tourism Organisation (KNTO) said, thanks to the success of shows like Autumn in My Heart and Winter Sonata, weve had 130,000 tourists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand coming to visit the locations where the dramas were lmed . . . The number of Taiwanese who visited Korea in 2003 totalled 180,000, a 50 per cent increase from the previous years gure of 120,000.33 In response to this growth in Hallyu tourism, the real Korea, to a small extent, has been reconstructed to t the fantasy of the Korea exported abroad, and the one visiting tourists expect to see. The Korean Tourism Organisation created an ocial website containing tourist information specically for Hallyu tourists. Hello Hallyu34contains detailed information about locations where Korean Hallyu dramas (Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Jewel in the Palace, for instance) were lmed. The Autumn in My Heart web pages contain six memorable locations from the drama complete with textual information regarding which dramatic events occurred at each site. Other information provided includes how to get to there, accommodation and things to do. The website can be read in Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English. Korean travel agencies have taken advantage of this opportunity, creating numerous itineraries aimed particularly at Japanese tourists; local councils have also jumped on the bandwagon. In May 2007 Seoul City Council opened the Four Seasons House at Sang-Su Dong that has reproduced several sets from the four seasons series. The house also displays photos and props from the series as well as organising special events, such as concerts featuring music from the series, meetings with the actors and autograph signings. The city council is optimistic that many foreign visitors will visit the Four Seasons House and consequently help revive the local economy in the surrounding area.35 Doobo Shim discusses in the article Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia that Korean big business is making eorts to transform Korean wave fans into

Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea


consumers of Korean products and services.36 Yet in terms of the tourist industry Korea, to a point, is also transforming itself to meet the demands of Hallyu fans. However unrealistic the projected portrayal of Korea is, especially in terms of the countrys international image, Hallyu appears to be working. In Asia, as Shim explains:
Korean stars have had a big impact on consumer culture, including food, fashion, make-up trends and even plastic surgery. It is not uncommon to nd Asian youth decorating their backpacks, notebooks and rooms with photographs of Korean stars. In the streets of Hanoi and Beijing, it is common to nd young members of the Korea Tribe, or Koreanophiles, sporting multiple earrings, baggy hip-hop pants, and the square-toed shoes of Seoul fashion. So popular are Korean actresses [Young-Ae Lee, Hae-Gyo Song, Hee-Sun Kim and Ji-Hyun Jeon] that it has been reported that their wanna-be fans in Taiwan and China request their facial features when going for cosmetic surgery. 37

Given the success of Hallyu and its stars at exporting a complimentary image of Korea, it is not surprising that the Korean government has identied it as a means of serving national interests at a political level. In 2004 the Korean government instigated the export of Hallyu dramas including Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata and Jewel in the Palace/ Dae Jang-geum (Byung-Hoon Lee, 2005) to Egypt. The government stated that this cultural exchange would help to establish a positive image of Korea and improve relations between the two nations at the time when South Korea was about to send more troops to Iraq. This was the rst time Korean television drama had ever been shown in the Middle East and, more importantly given the contemporary international political climate, was consciously done so to serve a diplomatic function; its export designed to convey the good character of Koreans and justify the countrys honourable intentions in taking part in military action.38 As Hallyu has increasingly become seen as an important aspect of how Korea is viewed and promoted abroad, the ip side is that national pride can be dented and Korea cast in a less attering light when Hallyu contains elements that are seen to tarnish the countrys reputation. Such an instance occurred in 2004 when the popular Hallyu star, Seung-Heon Song, was involved in a military service scandal. In Korea, it is mandatory for men over the age of 18 to do national service. Military service is a hot issue in Korean society and is perceived as more than simply a matter of national security. There is also a great emotional and sentimental resonance surrounding the fact that young men are seen to be selessly serving their country. While Song was lming a new drama, Sad Love Story/ Seulpeun yeonga39 abroad, the story broke that he had unlawfully avoided being drafted. In response to this, Song returned to Korea and made a public apology to the nation. However, a Member of Parliament, Sang-Ho Yoo, proposed that Songs military service be delayed in order for him to nish his current acting project given the importance of Hallyu to Korean national interests. Yet this suggestion, rather than easing the


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situation, further ignited national outrage and Yoo also had to make a public apology. In November 2004 Song began his military service and completed it on 15 November 2006. Following his release, he held an event for his fans (Asian Fan Meeting 2006, 1819 November 2006) with around 4,500 Asian fans from eight countries attending the event. This created another round of criticism after Song and his management put on an exhibition of photos and memorabilia gathered from his two years of military service. Many Korean found this distasteful, as it was perceived that he was attempting to further his career at the expense of service to his country, particularly since he had tried to avoid it in the rst place.40 What this incident illustrates is that being a good Korean is an integral part of being a Hallyu star. No matter how internationally famous a star gets, they are still perceived, rst and foremost, as representing their country: they must be a good Korean rst and a Hallyu star second. Allied to the notion of Hallyu selling Korea abroad is the rather more worrying nationalistic sentiment that the nation is nally asserting itself within Asia, attaining a position of dominance it has long deserved. Alongside jingoistic language that accompanies Hallyu, such as Korean Hallyu Stars Storm Asia41 and Korean Hallyu Conquering Asia,42 there have been assertions that historically Korea has always been a huge inuence within Asia; a notion embedded in the term Hallyu, as if this wave ows far back into history. For example, Jae-Hae Ims edited book There was Hallyu in Ancient Korea is a collection of articles that examine the social and cultural inuence of Korea (dance, fashion, etc.) on Asia throughout history.43 This view of Koreas far reaching and long-lived inuence has a wider resonance as it is bound with the current notion of Korea culturally conquering its neighbours after years of being colonised. The fact that Korea is now exporting, rather than importing, culture is a fact not lost on the Korean government. As Dong-Hoo Lee informs us:
The Korean government has banned the import of Japanese popular culture since its liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 . . . For Korea, Japan has been regarded as a close but distant other/oppressor . . . The majority of Koreans have been very sensitive to the inow of Japanese TV programs and their bad impact on Korean cultural identity. In 2000, Korean TV stations were for the rst time allowed to import Japanese-produced sports programs, documentaries, and news reports. However, the government has not yet allowed Japanese TV dramas and other entertainment programs to be imported. The governments reason for this is said to be in consideration to the public fear that undesirable cultural aspects of the former colonizer, such as relatively liberal expressions of sex and violence as well as commercialism, would negatively aect Korean culture.44

Although this has been relaxed in recent times, with the Japanese channel NHK now available on cable for example, Korea, to a certain extent, can be viewed as a country that has enjoyed one way transnational exchange in relation to Japan, happy to export Korean-ness to Japan whilst only half-opening the door to Japanese cultural inuence in return. This in extreme terms can be viewed, as with

Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea


the nationalistic language surrounding Hallyu, with Korea colonising its former coloniser. Yet the language of conquest that so often accompanies reports on Hallyu in Korea is recognised by some within the country as being undesirable. NoJa Park, for example, objects to the use of such pseudo-colonial terminology as overly jingoistic, complaining that such an imperialistic stance is unjustiable from a country that has historically suered so much from unwanted imperial dominance by its Asian neighbours.45 Seong-Uk Lee contends, in his discussion of the Korean lm industry, that ideally the current movement towards exportation to the Asian market should be to establish an Asian network on the basis of cooperation rather than aiming to conquer markets in the region.46 The nationalistic tone that accompanies Hallyu has interesting implications to the study of transnationalism and post-colonialism because the focus is on Asian rather than global domination. Both of these areas in Western academic discourse tend to focus on the West-East binary. Hallyu (in another revealing aspect of the term) indicates the importance to Korea of transnationalism solely within a specic regional context, as Hallyu can only be applied to cultural products popular within Asia. In relation to post-colonialism, the term in Korea, rather than conjuring images of former Western imperialistic endeavours, signies more the historical dominance of Japan over the nation. Therefore, given that Korean cultural products are now being perceived in the country as making inroads into Japan, this exportation has a patriotic resonance of conquering the conquerors, perhaps incomprehensible to Western academics. Thus, although a fuller discussion lies outside of the parameters of this article, Hallyu has interesting implications for the application of such concepts to Asian cultural exchange, as in the case of Hallyu, the West is excluded from both the post-colonial and transnational aspects of Korean television drama. Given that Hallyu can be applied to so much, perhaps it is more protable to think about the term less as a generic denition that signies the Korean-ness of cultural products, but rather as a nationalistic sentiment that essentially means successful in Asia. Korean cultural products that attain genuine global success are seen as something else entirely and not labelled Hallyu even though they may contain as much Korean-ness as a Hallyu product. Films, for example, that have reached a global audience such as Oldboy (Chan-Wook Park, 2003) and Lady Vengeance (Chan-Wook Park, 2006) have not been labelled Hallyu because their impact has been as great, if not greater, in the West than in the Asian market. What this implies is that local or regional success is easier to appreciate, to take pride in, than global achievements, in countries that are geographically further away and have historically less to answer for. Perhaps the simplest parallel for the pleasure Koreans take in Hallyu can be drawn with sporting events where the most important and satisfying victories are against their nearest neighbours. Therefore, Hallyu as a term appears to be rigidly and geographically limited to the borders of Asia. At the 60th Cannes Film Festival, Do-Yeon Jeon won the Best Actress Award for her role in Secret Sunshine (Chang-Dong Lee, 2007). On her return from Cannes there was a press conference during which she was praised for


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becoming a world star. Having become internationally recognised as a result of the lm and her award at Cannes, she was described as a world star that has gone beyond a Hallyu star.47 This distinction highlights the fact that the Asian market and the Western market are perceived dierently and that to become a star beyond Asia means dropping the Hallyu epithet. The important caveat is that successful cultural export does not, of course, equate with superior cultural quality. As Iwabuchi demonstrated in his study of Japanese TV drama, Tokyo Love Story (Fuji Television Network, 1991), we also need to consider historical, political, social and economic circumstances that help or hinder such exportation. Also contrary to what Hallyu may be seen to represent, which is the growing cultural domination of Korea in Asia, the popularity of Hallyu may well be the result of the fact that it is simply producing the types of drama that Asians want to see at the moment. As Iwabuchi states,
Transnational cultural power does not necessarily mean the straightforward embodiment and recognition of one cultures superiority over another but can be dened as the capacity of a culture to produce symbolic images and meanings which appeal to the senses, emotions, and thoughts of the self and others.48

Therefore, although Hallyu is successful in Asia, it does not necessarily mean that Korean cultural superiority is nally being recognised, which much of the nationalistic language that accompanies it tends to imply. Hallyu as a term is open to such connotations due to the indistinctiveness and vagueness of its actual meaning, allowing it to encompass all that is culturally inuential in Asia as seen to originate from Korea. Thus in some circles Hallyu in Korea has come to signify the long awaited cultural ascendancy and Asian-wide recognition of Korea. However, this correlation between success and Korean cultural quality serves a political, economic and nationalistic agenda that ignores all the other reasons for the success of Hallyu. Not least of these is the complicity and willingness of Koreas Asian neighbours to embrace Korean stars, dramas, music and fashions, and welcome them into their homes. This is not conquest but rather a willing collaboration and acceptance. There is undeniably a dark side to the Hallyu phenomenon, its evident success used by some to re-write history and, in extreme cases, even human biology. Donga Science, for example, published a special cover story (January 2006) which discussed the DNA of the nation. It oered a scientic rationale for the nations success in entertainment and sports, arguing that Koreans biological advantages were a result of the vitality of the Korean race. Yet rather than looking exclusively at Korea for the meaning of Hallyu, or viewing it as a form of cultural conquest, it is transnational cultural exchange that has enabled Korean cultural products to be exported en masse. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of Hallyu, which serve to suggest the rise of Korea at the expense of its Asian neighbours, I prefer to view it in an optimistic light as a positive indicator of a growing openness and willingness to communicate between Asian countries.

Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea


The MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) Cheshire Faculty Research Committee supported my research in Korea for this article. I would also like to thank Dr Basil Glynn for his advice and comments on this article. 1 Korean Parliamentary Culture and Tourism Research Group, Suggestions on Strategic and Supportive Methods to Aid the Sustainability of Hallyu, 2005: http://www.assembly. (in Korean). 2 Dean Visser, What Hip Asians Want, Washington Post, 10 March 2002, A23. 3 Jane Kagan is director of the UCLA Extension Department of Entertainment Studies and Performing Arts. This opinion was expressed in an interview with a daily newspaper, Kyunghyung Shin-moon, following her attendance at the International Seminar on the Promotion of Hallyu-Wood. The seminar was organised by Gyeonggi Province and held on 2 June 2006 at Goyang City in Gyeonggi Province. news/khan_art_view.html?artid 200606291831131&code 100100 (in Korean). 4 Dong-Hwan Kwon, Is It Too Early to Talk about Hallyu in the Philippines?: Koreanovela and Its Reception Among [the] Filipino Audience, Cultural Space and Public Sphere in Asia: an International Conference, The Institute for Communication, Arts and Technology, 1516 March 2006, Seoul, 258: 01program.html (in Korean). 5 Research Group, Suggestions on Strategic and Supportive Methods to Aid the Sustainability of Hallyu: (in Korean). 6 Sang Kim, Does Hallyu exist in Singapore, The Journal of East Asian Studies, 42, 2002, 11436 (in Korean). 7 Kwon, Is It Too Early to Talk about Hallyu in the Philippines?, 25788; Jane O. Vinculado, Asia Invades the Philippines: Asian Soap Operas and Philippine Television Programming Cultural Space and Public Sphere in Asia: an International Conference, 2349; 8 Han-Woo Lee, The Korean Wave in Vietnam: Its Formation and Socioeconomic Inuence, The Journal East Asian Studies, 42, 2002, 93113 (in Korean). 9 Lihyun Lin, The Paradox of the Korean Wave in Taiwan, Cultural Space and Public Sphere in Asia: an International Conference, 12943: 01program.html. 10 Sun-Ho Kim, The Character and Prospect of the Wave of Korean Culture in Mongolia, The Journal East Asian Studies, 42, 2002, 5972 (in Korean). 11 Eun-Sook Lee, A Study of the Popular Korean Wave in China, Literature and Film, 3, 2002, 3159 (in Korean); Jin Heo, The Hanliu (the Korean Syndrome) Phenomenon and the Acceptability of Korean TV Dramas in China, Korean Association for Broadcasting & Telecommunication Studies, 16, 1, 2002, 496529 (in Korean); Zang Ying, A Study of the Korean Wave and Reception of Korean Dramas in China: From the Perspective of College Students, MA dissertation, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2003 (in Korean). 12 Sae-Kyung Yoo and Kyung-Sook Lee, The Cultural Proximity of the Television Dramas in East-Asia Countries: Wish Upon a Star of Korea, Love Talks of Hong Kong and Love and Sorrow of China, The Korean Journal of Journalism & Communication Studies, 45, 3, 2001, 23070 (in Korean). 13 Joseph Straubhaar, Beyond Media Imperialism: Asymmetrical Interdependence and Cultural Proximity, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 8, 1, 1991, 3959.


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14 Eun-Kyung Yang, Beyond Hallyu: The Globalization of the Korean Television Industry, Studies of Broadcasting Culture, 16, 1, 2004, 913: book/1407. 15 Kwon, Is It Too Early to Talk about Hallyu in the Philippines?, 276. 16 John Nguyeat Erni and Siew Keng Chua, Introduction: Our Asian Media Studies? in Erni and Chua, eds, Asian Media Studies: Politics of Subjectivities, Blackwell Publishing, 2005, p. 7. 17 Vinculado, Asia Invades the Philippines, 238. 18 Koichi Iwabuchi, Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism, Duke University Press, 2002. 19 Kwon, Is It Too Early to Talk about Hallyu in the Philippines?, 273. 20 Doobo Shim, Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia, Media, Culture & Society, 28, 1, 2006, 28. See also Jun-Hao Hong and Yu-Ciung Hsu, Asian NICs Broadcast Media in the Era of Globalization: The Trend of Commercialization and Its Impact, Implications and Limits, Gazette, 61, 34, 1999, 228; Indrajit Banerjee, The Local Strikes Back: Media Globalization and Localization in the New Asian Television Landscape, Gazette, 64, 6, 2002, 526; Graham Murdock, Past and Posts: Rethinking Change, Retrieving Critique, European Journal of Communication, 19, 2004, 30. 21 Seung-Hye Song, Internationalization of the Broadcasting Industry and Rearrangement of Cultural Boundaries in Respect to the Export of Korea Broadcasting Content in the Asian Market, Studies of Broadcasting Culture, 13, 1, 2001, 120 (in Korean): See also Lin, The Paradox of the Korean Wave in Taiwan, for an account of this in Taiwanese. 22 Dal-Yong Jin, Regionalization of East Asia in the 1990s: Cultural and Economic Aspects of the Television Program Trade, Media Asia, 29, 4, 2002, 21528. 23 Jin-Seok Kang, Hanryu is the Cultural Code of East Asia, Journal of International Peace, 2, 1, 2005, 2212. 24 Chosun Weekly, 1825, 2004, 57. 25 Ibid., 58. 26 For the popularity of Bae in Japan see also China Daily, Nine Hurt in Crush of YongSama fans in Japan, 26 November 2004: 2004-11/26/content_395208.htm; Japanese Marriages Falling Victim to Yonguenza , Japan Today, 17 July 2004: 27 Eun-Ha Baek, The Unchanging Rules of Yun Suk-Ho Drama, Cine21, 413, 2003, 73. 28 Hankyureo 21, 333, 2000: 021015000200011080333045.html (in Korean). 29 Cine 21, 597, 2007, 32. 30 Baek, The Unchanging Rules of Yoon Suk-Ho Drama, 703. 31 Chosun-Ilbo, 22 August 2007, E6. 32 Norimitsu Onishi, Whats Korean for Real Man? Ask a Japanese Woman, New York Times, 23 December 2004, Late Edition, A23. 33 Shim, Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia, 30. 34 See Hello Hallyu: 35 Segye-Ilbo, 31 May 2007, 11. 36 Shim, Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia, 30. 37 Ibid., 29. 38 Radio Korea International, KBS, 28 May 2004: sub.php?menu=5&key=2004052820.

Signicance of the Korean Wave in South Korea


39 KimJongHak Productions produced this drama for 7,600,000,000 Won. It featured well-known Hallyu stars such as Song and Hee-Sun Kim. As a result of the Song scandal and his subsequent departure from the project to embark on his military service the drama was on the verge of cancellation, but was salvaged when Song was replaced by the lesser known actor, Jung-Hoon Yeon. The drama was broadcast in January 2005 on MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation). 40 Segye-Ilbo, 18 November 2006: TreeID 1052&PCode 0007&DataID 200611181447000057 (in Korean). 41 Chosun-Ilbo, 16 June 2006, A25. 42 Sports Chosun, 27 June 2007: 1& name /news/entertainment/200706/20070627/76776103.htm (in Korean). 43 Im Jae-Hae, ed., There was Hallyu in Ancient Korea, Jisik Sanup Publications, 2007. 44 Dong-Hoo Lee, Cultural Contact With Japanese TV Dramas: Modes of Reception and Narrative Transparency, in Koichi Iwabuchi, ed., Feeling Asian Modernities: Transnational Consumption of Japanese TV Dramas, Hong Kong University Press, 2004, p. 251, pp. 25860. 45 No-Ja Park, Should You Be Proud of Hallyu? Hankyoreh, 20 June 2005: http://www. 46 Seong-Uk Lee, Becoming the Server for an Asian Network through Collaboration rather than Conquest, Korea Culture and Arts Journal, 306, 2005, 6975. 47 Cine 21, 606, 2007, 75. 48 Koichi Iwabuchi, Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism, Duke University Press, 2002, p. 133.