Thursday, December 11, 2014

South Korea and the Hallyu Wave




            When people think about Asian popular culture the term Hallyu Wave comes to mind for many people who live within East Asia. The origin of the term is highly debated as many scholars don’t know where or how the term came to be. The overall definition is that it is a wave of popular culture that has over taken East-Asia encompassing a variety of different forms of entertainment. Yet the success of Hallyu stars both within the reaches of East Asia and overall globally has yet to be truly determined. Jeongmee Kim’s article “Why Does Hallyu Matter? The Significance of the Korean Wave in South Korea” determines that the overall success should be attributed to Korean dramas and how the people from neighboring countries are attracted to the conservative nature of the shows. While Solee I. Shin and Lanu Kim’s article “Organizing K-Pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses, 1980-2010” states that even though Korean shows had been an influence at first, the reason that the Korean entertainment industry has seen a large global influence is because of the influence of Korean pop music. The question of which of the two industries has the biggest influence not only in the local market but also in the global entertainment market as well is something that has yet to be determined. With the advent of online streaming websites such as YouTube, Viki, DramaFever, and Netflix both industries have seen growth in both sectors. Overall the changing world entertainment market might be the true reason as to why South Korean entertainment has seen a significant shift in the Hallyu Wave and it is no longer restricted to one industry over the other but to the combination of all industries under the entertainment houses.
            Understanding the origins of the Hallyu Wave is an important factor, as well as the significance of how Korean television dramas have an effect on the East Asia Entertainment Industry. Joengmee Kim’s article “Why Does Hallyu Matter? The Significance of the Korean Wave in South Korea” illustrates why Korean dramas are popular in the East Asian market. Kim uses sources from many different perspectives as well as many different countries to claim that the biggest success of the Hallyu wave is in how Korean shows share the values of the people throughout East Asia. Kim says that “it is not just what Hallyu offers, but what it offers as an alternative that has contributed to its success. Rather than Latin telenovelas and Western dramas, Korean Hallyu presents a general and recognizable Asian-ness, a factor that Japanese television drama also profited from in the international Asian market during the 1990s.”[1] Since Korean dramas are infused with values that are normal for the population of the region, Kim suggests that this is why the wave can contribute much of its success to the television industry since it has seen the most success in East Asia. Kim further states in the article that “not every Korean drama, film or pop song, no matter how popular in Korea, will be labelled Hallyu – only those that have been exported and done so successfully.”[2] This has a double meaning because it also only becomes labelled Hallyu if its success is within the Asian market, if the drama, film or song become popular in the global market it’s not considered a Hallyu success. The weakness of this argument is that it restricts the ability of the market outside of the region as well as the argument that Kim makes that Koreans wouldn’t take as much pride in a global success as they would in an Asian success. A success in Japan has a “patriotic resonance of conquering the conquerors,”[3] since they were once a Japanese colony and now they were producing successful shows in Japan which is an interesting way of looking at the outcome of the Hallyu Wave.
            The other side of this Hallyu success story is that in which Solee Shin and Lanu Kim present in their article “Organizing K-Pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses,” in which they future expand on the concept of the Hallyu Wave including the rise of K-Pop not only outside of Korea but within as well. Shin and Kim define the music industry by writing that “for music, it has been mostly what is called “K-Pop” or “idol music,” which does not denote all popular music with roots in Korea but a sub-genre that is most strategically produced and commercially tailored among Korea’s cultural exports.”[4] What makes K-pop different from traditional Korean music is that the artist is no long standing still at a microphone, but like American and British pop groups they are active on stage dancing and singing. The authors also acknowledge that the rise in K-Pop started in the early to mid-2000’s while the Hallyu Wave was already rising in popularity, but also that the most popular groups and actors are within the three biggest entertainment houses in Korea, which are SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP. The article examines how idol groups that emerged during this time are defined “through their activities,”[5] and also how “their musical style defined and tailored, and domestic and international market for K-Pop organized.”[6] Korean idols are not only singing their way through East Asia but many of those same artist act in dramas, endorse products, and travel internationally as models. The further argument of the article is that the increased success of K-Pop is attributed to the rise of online streaming as well as social media. The weaknesses of the article is that they spend so much time analyzing the three entertainment houses on their practices and how they create idols that they forget to look further into the success of K-Pop on the global scale outside of East Asia. The article reduces it to very few mentions of the success of PSY with his hit Gangnam Style but not looking further into the possibility that record sales may have grown within Western countries
            For the author’s in both articles to understand the influences of the Hallyu Wave and its reach into the global market they had to do intensive research. . Jeongmee Kim’s article relies heavily on its sources with the bibliography taking up two and a half pages of the nine page article. Kim uses block quotes from many of these articles and at times it doesn’t read as though Kim wrote the article but the sources did. The interesting point of Kim’s sources is that it’s not restricted to just South Korea but to multiple East Asian countries, with each article studying the significance of the Hallyu wave throughout each country. The articles were also recently published articles that complement Kim’s point of view. Solee Shin and Lanu Kim’s article uses sources to show the rise of K-pop by looking at twenty years of global market research. Their article makes use of less sources then Jeongmee Kim’s article but they use this as a way to also state their own opinions. Shin and Kim’s article uses sources from throughout the world in order to illustrate their points about the rise of Korean pop music.
            The articles both make very valid points towards the emergence of the Hallyu Wave as well as the rise of the market. Though I’m in agreement with Solee Shin and Lanu Kim’s article because even though they need to further research the global market of K-Pop’s influence, they do notice how the rise in the market both within Korea and outside the country has been growing more and more. They note the uptick in sales since YouTube helped put artist out there in a way for the world to fully view what artist, in Korea are capable of. In regards to Jeongmee Kim’s article I’m split on so many of the points that were brought up in the article. Since the article was published in 2007 Kim’s article doesn’t know that the Hallyu wave with Korean television dramas fluctuates depending on what is on air in Korea and who is in the shows. Kim also makes no mention of the global reach. Korean dramas are influenced by the Japanese industry as well with dramas such as the 2009 Boys Over Flowers which was based on the Japanese manga named Hana Yori Dango and had already been made into a drama both in Japan and in Taiwan with immense popularity. Kim might have look into how Korean shows are also influenced by outside sources. The best next step for both articles is looking to see how outside influences have come into the Korean market, not just in music but in television as well. It’s no longer about how the industry has become popular but also on how it continues to thrive as well as how it will further continue its rise in the next couple of year with more artist such as 2NE1 and BIGBANG’s G-Dragon working on music with American producers to release albums in a global market.



Bibliography
Kim, Jeongmee. "Why Does Hallyu Matter? The Significance of the Korean Wave in South Korea." Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies 2, no. 2 (2007): 47-59.
Shin, Solee; Kim, Lanu. “Organizing K-Pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses, 1980-2010” East Asia: An International Quarterly [1096-6838] 30, no. 4 (2013): 255-272


[1] Jeongmee Kim. "Why Does Hallyu Matter? The Significance of the Korean Wave in South Korea." Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies 2, no. 2 (2007): 48-49.
[2] Ibid, 50
[3] Ibid, 55
[4] Solee Shin and Lanu Kim. “Organizing K-Pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses, 1980-2010” East Asia: An International Quarterly [1096-6838] 30, no. 4 (2013) 256
[5] Ibid, 259
[6] Ibid, 259