KOREA BECOMING POP CULTURE LEADER IN ASIA
HatTip to Jeff. Not sure if this is a good thing for Asia. Korean dramas can pollute the soul:)
Roll Over, Godzilla: Korea Rules
THE NEW YORK TIMES
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
June 28, 2005
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Here in one of the first corners of Asia hit by the "Korean Wave" of cultural exports, a television series about a royal cook, "A Jewel in the Palace," proved so popular that it is now used to advertise South Korea on the Taipei subway. A huge hit in Mongolia, the drama also fueled a boom in tourists from Hong Kong visiting South Korea.
A weepy love story, "Winter Sonata," became the rage in Uzbekistan after driving the Japanese into a frenzy last year. In Thailand and Malaysia, people devoured "A Tale of Autumn," and Vietnamese were glued to "Lovers in Paris." In China, South Korean dramas are sold, and pirated, everywhere, and the young adopt the clothing and hairstyles made cool by South Korean stars.
South Korea, historically more worried about fending off cultural domination by China and Japan than spreading its own culture abroad, is emerging as the pop culture leader of Asia. From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to online games, South Korean companies and stars are increasingly defining what the disparate people in East Asia watch, listen to and play.
The size of South Korea's entertainment industry, which began attracting heavy government investment only in the late 1990's, jumped from $8.5 billion in 1999 to $43.5 billion in 2003. In 2003, South Korea exported $650 million in cultural products; the amount was so insignificant before 1998 that the government could not provide figures.
But the figures tell only part of the story. The booming South Korean presence on television and in the movies has spurred Asians to buy up South Korean goods and to travel to South Korea, traditionally not a popular tourist destination. The images that Asians traditionally have associated with the country - violent student marches, the demilitarized zone, division - have given way to trendy entertainers and cutting-edge technology. (full article)