Thursday, October 28, 2010


Interesting musings on the various places in which Korean pop culture exports have done well here. Some snippets:
Korean TV programmes have been hugely popular in Iran since the 2003 historical drama Dae Jang Geum (or Jewel in the Palace) became a massive hit with audiences there: ‘When it was broadcast in Iran over 50,000 websites in Persian (Farsi) became devoted to the show.’
According to one writer-reporter I contacted this week: ‘Korea is big in Bhutan dressing up like some Korean pop stars, watching Korean movies...and Korean fashion is big!’
But then there's this head-scratcher:
Professor Jung-Bong Choi of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, summed it up best for me when he suggested that essentially Korean cultural exports are a borderless alternative to US their US counterparts.

‘I define hallyu not as a Korean phenomenon…the ownership of hallyu is not to Korea. It’s the public’s…who have this desire to consume some of the product that’s distinct from the US product or Hollywood product whether that’s drama or whatever—something that is consistent and congruent with their emotions. So I see the power as coming more from the…people’s desire and yearning to see their own stories, to envision their own future through the lens of Korean media and music and whatnot. It’s identity politics.’
That Korean pop culture may be seen and consumed as an alternative to American pop culture (despite the at least superficial similarities in genre, style etc.) works for me. But to label it "borderless" and "not as a Korean phenomenon" flies in the face of how the hallyu has been understood in the ROK itself (not to mention the fact that I suppose some folks in the world might "see their own stories" and "envision their own future" through the lens of American cultural products too; does that make American pop culture borderlesss too?)

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