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Erasmus Mundus 2012 Globalization, Culture and The Roles of The Media

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Korean Wave Cultural Media Industries in Making


What does it mean for the global cultural economy?

Korean Wave (Hallyu in Korean) refers to a cultural media phenomenon of South Korea (hereafter Korea). Hallyu has been virally spreading all over Asia, and now making inroad to Europe and North America. It represents the entire Korean cultural commodity, e.g. music, dramas, lifestyle, fashion, language, and cuisine. Hallyu also illustrates the Korean cultural industry in making through the intensively use of social media. It gains a huge popularity with hundreds million views on YouTube, and fuels user(fan)-generated content worldwide. The Korean music video Gangnam Style with over 900 million views recently dethroned Justin Biebers Baby song that had been the most-viewed video on YouTube for all time. K-pop has now climbed up pop-charts in Korea and Asia, including Japan the worlds second largest music market, after the U.S. This essay aims to provide a deeper consideration of Hallyus success. The essay applies two cultural information perspectives in complementing the evaluation of Hallyu. First is Appudurai (1990) of scapes model, the fluxes of information and media cultures. Second is Schillers (1991) cultural imperialism, commoditization and consumerism. The question is whether Hallyus success as being purely Korean, East and West mix, or illustrating much of Western domination. This essay argues that Hallyu is very subtly complex phenomenon of cultural flows, state involvement and increased technology availability that made it so successful. The essay is divided into four parts. First is to discuss about cultural information flows by applying theoretical frameworks of Appadurai (1990) and Schiller (1991). Besides cultural dimension, second part will present the Korean governments critical roles in facilitating the Hallyu media industries. Third, to examine the use of Web 2.0 that has also played dramatic role as a medium for user-generated content. The last part is a conclusion of Hallyus success elements. As this essay points out that the Hallyu phenomenon are made of (1) cultural-mixed component, (2) state policies and subsidies, and (3) digitally technological availability. These factors have resulted in Hallyu success in the current global cultural economy.

Erasmus Mundus 2012 Globalization, Culture and The Roles of The Media I. Eastern Cultural or Western Imperialism Package?

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In The New Yorker article titled Factory Girls (Seabrook 2012), entertains how K-pop is hardly called an East-West mash up. The author concluded, the mythical mlange of East and West remained elusive. Seabrook criticizes that Hallyu is somehow manipulated by market mechanism. He argues that the cultural industry has been mainly using young girls physical beauty rather than their actual musical and artistic talents. The K-pop bands such as Girls Generation, Wonder Girls and F(x), in Seabrooks opinion, can barely compare to American pop-music such as Madonna. The question leads to how Korean Wave is now rocking the world, and become YouTube sensation by gaining hundreds million views. The main question is whether Hallyu is the result of diverse-global-cultural flows, or it is simply Korean national phenomenon. The latter suggestion lies on the belief that the global culture still remains dominated by Western imperialism culture (Schiller 1991). Appudurai proposes that the cultural product consists from five scapes (i.e. movements, dynamics, processes). His five scapes are ethnoscapes (movements of the people), finanscapes (movements of money), technoscapes (dynamics of technology), ideoscapes (dynamics of ideas) and mediascapes (dynamics of media). The key point is that the more we understand the dynamic and relations within and in between these five scapes; the more success in global cultural economy we gain. Appudarai (1990) suggests that there is no such a singular world, but multi-world where is created by diverse groups of peoples, ethnicities, nations, cultures, lifestyles, values, and ideologies through quirkishly interplayed roles of five scapes. Therefore, the rise of Hallyu as representing Korean cultures in global media sphere can be seen as evidence to what Appudurai has claimed. In Hallyus world, some argue that Korean drama is more popular than Western series simply because Asians can relate to it more (Sun Bang, 2011). Such the expression leads to Appadurais argument that might overthrow Schillers homogeneity of Western imperialism. Specifically, when Korean beauty has become a mainstream trend for girls and women in Korean and other countries. To this point, Hallyu has led to a national and transnational cultural package to audience by offering somewhat the cultural desire.

Erasmus Mundus 2012 Globalization, Culture and The Roles of The Media

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Korean is now world leader in surgery procedures per capita (Seabrook 2012). In contrast, the single-eyelid is genetically common among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean population. Thus, the double-fold-eyelid and leg lengthening surgery become popular rewards for children who get good marks on school exams in Korean (Seabrook 2012). This popularity of K-pop idols has brought Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean medical tourists to Seoul to have their faces look alike Korean stars (Seabrook 2012). However, in taking Schillers perspective, though this kind of transnational media domination seems toward pluralism, it possibly towards homogeneity. Western imperialism still remains significant in leading global culture. Hallyu has been argued in greatly adopting Western cultures such as lifestyle, nightlife, and costume. The Korean music sounds Western hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dub-step breaks are main component in Korean pop music. Many popular K-pop songs hooks are often sung in English (e.g. Sorry sorry, Nobody but you, Gee Gee baby, etc.) in making their ways to wider audience. As English is one of the major components of the Western imperialism, specifically Americanization. Those cultural representations can be re-examined, as Schiller (1991) mentioned, they are somehow mixed, but the stronger culture will dominate another. Hence, Hallyu remains as the less developing world catching up with the more developed world, the Western values and lifestyle. Furthermore, some argue that K-pop contains load of Asian qualities such as the strong sentiment of hierarchy, respect elders (Confucianism), portraits of Korean livelihoods in K-dramas, are apparent. The absence of explicit sex has also helped K-dramas in the Middle East, where displays of physical sexuality can draw censorship, protest, and lawsuits (Ravina 2009). The value of virginity until marriage remains in K-dramas helps market penetrating in many countries. But at the same time, looking at the K-pop starts, styled as a preteen-friendly version is a reminder of Disney culture from an American tradition of earnest, fun-loving, non-coital sexual sexuality (Ravina 2009). Moreover, for instance, the beauty definition that refers to double-fold eyelids, long slim legs, tall slim body, and light skin. Those elements can be argued that they have long rooted and adopted elsewhere and blended in local cultures globally. Although, white skin in some Asian countries has inherited from colonial period, that value has

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also passed through generations within local value practices. As European colonization brought cultural and religious bias against those with dark- skin as inferior, ugliness, uneducated and animals (Li et al 2008; Hussein 2010). Some argue that skin whitening has a long history in Asia, influenced by China belief One white covers up hundred ugliness. That Chinese saying was passed through generations and traveled to Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere in East Asia (Chong 2005; Hussein 2010). Admittedly, since 1950s the media development in Western countries had resulted in their leading roles of information flows and controls. The Hollywood exposure has gone wildly elsewhere in the world. Thus, though Chinese, Japanese and Korean are considered already pale-skinned, the pearly glamour-white skin like European is their ultimate desire. The Asian Scientist reports (2012) the beauty business in Asia-Pacific region is estimated to be worth at US$ 80 billion and the skin-lightening market alone is valued at over US$ 13 billion. In China, the skin care market is worth more than US$5.5 billion, whitening products comprise around 71 percent of the market (Tan 2012). To sum up, Hallyu is among empirical explanations that Appadurais scapes are intertwined. The success of Hallyu is full of dynamic. The influence of colonialism values still exists in the Eastern world. The dynamic of information and media are continually creating and re-creating old and new, mixed and mashed cultures that affecting global cultural economy. II. Government Subsidies: Hallyus Economic Catalyst In 2010, the Korean Economist Institute report shows that after the end of Korean authoritarian regime (1962-92) and Asian financial crisis in 1997, the government has critically deregulated broadcasting laws. Under the first civilian president was elected in 1993, the media reform was dramatically pushed. It aimed to shield Korean from exposure to foreign cultures, especially Japanese and Chinese. Including, promoting its economic competitiveness. The cable television broadcasting laws were deregulated as resulted in multiplying station operators and multiplying program providers. Those were also subjected to media industrial growth (Ki-sung Kwak, 2010).

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The development of both cable and satellite TV in Korea was not driven by consumer demand, but by the government (Ki-sung Kwak, 2010). As the globalization causes much of information flows where Korean population was much exposed to Japanese, Chinese, and American culture. Therefore, Korean government sought to protect foreign cultures exposure, by applying new media to construct information flow. The government started regulating foreign influence and implemented policies to ensure the expansion of the domestic broadcasting market (Kim 2011). In 2005 the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), one of the countrys four major television networks, exported $43 million-worth of content abroad in 38 countries. Overall in 2009, Korean exported nearly $3 billion in entertainment, more than double 2002 exports. There are up to 400 independent studios creating content for domestic and international markets according to CNN. In government website, the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism refers to Hallyu as Smart Korea, Smart Culture, and Smart Tourism. This process has a distinctly political dimension as exporting cultures as soft power (Schiller 1991). That Hallyu tentatively has positive impact and potential approach of Koreas cultural diplomacy (Jang and Paik 2012). For instance, the Korean government has promoted the Korean pop stars in tourism materials to direct supports to Korean media companies. The Korean government has offer low-interest loans for cultural industries in order to sustain the continued success of hallyu (Ravina 2009). Korean media industry is the result of cultural commoditization, commercialization, national policies and consumerism desire. Therefore, Hallyu is somewhat proved the complexity of the current economy has to do with certain fundamental dynamics between economies, cultures and politics (Appadurai 1990: 296). Hallyu became the new economic growth engine for cultural media industries. In fact, the term Hallyu (Hanliu) was coined by Chinese journalists to describe the Korean pop that struck China in the 1990s. It is ironic to see the reversed cultural flow from South Korea back to China. III. Cultural Media Industries: Hallyu 1.0 to 2.0 Another ingredient for Hallyu successful recipe is the media technology. The intensive use of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and website have powerfully fueled Hallyu. However, the concern of legal exploitation, specifically the users rights versus media

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companies revenue is spreading globally (Jin 2012). Jin (2012) proposed that Hallyu 1.0 started in the 1990s, the era that Korean cultural products firstly penetrated the Chinese, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong with television dramas. Later on, Hallyu 2.0 has emerged along with web 2.0 development, social media and digital technologies (e.g. smartphones and online gaming). This resulted in Korea exported $80.9 million worth of music in 2010, a 159% increase from 2009. In 2011, the music industry exported $177 million, a 112% increase from the previous year (Jin 2012). Since late 2007, social media has been facilitating Hallyu to experiencing such a shift. Westernbased social media and smartphones have also taken pivotal roes in spreading out KPop and other cultural genres. That also allows the creation of networked-media and exchange of user-generated content for example in YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. However, this creative industries cannot benefit from increasing popularity due to illegal piracy i.e. the singer does not gain revenue from YouTube though their songs have million views (Jin 2012). At this point, the user-generated content (UGC) is generally defined as unattended profit-maker, but attended and engaged cyber/users. Thus, the UGC and global economy are closely linked, both pros and cons aspect. Hallyu fans are significantly proving that. There is overwhelming UGC availability in the online world. K-pop music videos on YouTube gain few million views, but the revenue to those artists is unclear. Many video clips appearing on YouTube have used K-pop as theme song for creating new visual content, or sing K-pop in their own cover versions. Some K-pop cover versions gain more than 5 million views. However, most video upload are come from Hallyu fans, not the media-ownership companies. However, so far there is no lawsuit of copyright violation on K-pop music on YouTube has been reported. That somehow shows that while the American leading roles on Intellectual Property Rights enforcement to utilize their revenue, Korean companies act differently. The more Hallyu exploits the social media and illegal piracy, its success goes faster and wider. Castells explains this combination of decentralized delivery and centralized control. According to him, YouTube is a form of mass communication because it has potentiality to reach universal audiences, and also a form of self communication. Importantly, its contents are self-generated, self-directed, and self-selected (Castells,

Erasmus Mundus 2012 Globalization, Culture and The Roles of The Media

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2009:55). Moreover, in such dynamic as commercialization and severe copyright protection, YouTube is still has potential as the alternative media space of the nonprofit community, amateurs, independent artists and content distributors (Kim 2012:62). In this regard, an observation of Hallyu fans in using Facebook and Twitter shows some interesting facts (see Table 3.1). Hallyu fans are engaging themselves as UGC in various ways. By looking the FB group or fan page names, Hallyu represents wide range of content distributors - from community, news, music, and art to lifestyle. It also claims by different nationalities, locations and business. Twitter account names are proved similarity to FB as well. Although the UG content can be accessed from anywhere, these generators are concentrate mostly in Asia.

Table 3.1: Term and Category of Korean Wave in Facebook Group and Fan Page
Used Term Category Community Organization Non-profit Org. Entertainment Music Band Music Video Concert Tour Songs Contest Art Tour News Media Publishing Magazine Radio Station Clothing Product Service Night Life Local Business Shopping/Retail Korean Wave Korean Wave Malaysia Korean Wave Indonesia Korean Wave Seoul, Korea Korean Wave BKK, Thailand Korean Wave Philippines Korean Wave Honduras Mexican Association of KoreanWave & TV Dramas Korean Beauty Salon, Dubai Super Wave Korean Toronto Korean Wave Shopaholic We Love Korea Stars Hallyu Hallyu Online Hallyu Stars Shop Hallyu Singapore Hallyu World Hallyu Shop, Mexico City Hallyu Ecuador Hallyu Fam Hallyu Town Hallyu Contest Hallyu Mexican Lovers Hallu Wave Pakistan Hallyu Core Republic Philippines Hallyu Fan Hallyu Goods BKK Hallyu Dance Team Official Hallyu Radio Station Hallyu Wave Lovers Hallyu-shop.com, France Comidad Hallyu Columbia Generacin Hallyu Hola Hallyu

Note: Many Facebook page and group generators are also active in Twitter by using the same name. In additional, E.g. Korean Wave (subhead: We are crazy about Korean), K-pop Europe (An European community for K-pop album, official and unofficial merchandise), Korean Wave (Live on 90.8Mix FM), Korean Wave SG (Singapore-based blog), Korean Wave.Org, and etc.
*This survey was conducted specifically for this essay in December 6, 2012.

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By using social media, Hallyu stars and fans became less dependent on professional media and journalist. Their personal Facebook and Twitters became their megaphones. For example, a blog named koreanwaveTimes.blogspot.com where contains news, updates, and Hallyu related activities. It also offers Hallyu fans to understand the K-pop lyrics by providing English translation. The blog layout is professionally designed and full of commercial ads. Another example is Korean government also set up a website Korea.net to provide all kind of information about Korea. Most governments in the world now have such websites to communicate with foreigners and tourists. The Bloggers, YouTubers, Facebookers, and Twitters are seemingly becoming citizen journalist in this mean. As Bowman and Willis (2003) refer to citizen journalism is based upon public citizens playing active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information. However, it is very important to be aware that not all of the UCG are citizen journalism, but citizen journalist is a subset of UCG. Ultimately, UCG has played crucial role in building Hallyu phenomenon. There is a debate among media people of calling Hallyu as a social movement or Internet movement; there is no solid academic study in proving accordingly. The social movement as referring to the group of large individuals or organizations that focuses on specific political or social issues. The Hallyu is very extensively studied in terms of cultural and media studies (Ravina 2009:4), none of study showing concrete values of what Hallyu and their fans support. One might suggest that the viral spread of Hallyu is a result of anti-American culture, however, it does not pronounce in that direction but rather blend in and pave the way to penetrate Western media market. To summarize, a SAMSUNG Economic Research Institute (cited in Kim 2011), clearly explains that the expansion of Hallyu have developed through four states. First is the expansion state of popular culture e.g. TV programs, films, and K-pop. Second is those pop cultures have driven people to buy products, such as soundtrack, costume, and package tour that offers tourists a Korean popular culture experience. Third state is when people buy Korean products those are directly related to K-pop culture, such as cosmetics. Through consumption, consumers come to adopt a favorable impression of Korea, the fourth and final stage of Hallyu's cycle (Kim 2011). These four states are also driven by constructed cultures, state subsidies, and social media practices.

Erasmus Mundus 2012 Globalization, Culture and The Roles of The Media IV. Conclusion

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In conclusion, Hallyu is somewhat complex Korean global cultural industry. Hallyu related products and values have contributed a great deal to Korean media industries, tourism, and national economic revenue. Although it has been seen as the unique and creative cultural industries of Korean (Jin 2012), some Western media have responded to this by calling Korean Mania. Most previous studies focus on the Hallyus elements of success. Somewhat, it has understood as Eastern and Western cultural mix. Meanwhile, some argue that Hallyu greatly contains Western worldview and tendencies much more than Asian values. However, the web 2.0 has increased both scope and intensity of information flow and decentralizing of information control. Hallyu as East and West mash-up actually becomes even more nuanced and well stirred in this globalization era. Hallyu is successful because of its cultural commoditization and consumerism. The government policies in supporting the flow are also critically important. At last, the social media and advance technologies have been hugely facilitating this in-making cultural media industry. Therefore, this essay suggests that it is not always a case to distinguish the Eastern from Western culture, but rather to be aware of cultural, economic, political, media and technological fluxes. In precisely, though Korean Wave has been studied most extensively in the field of cultural studies, but it is also much involved in politics, marketing, and media technologies. Hallyu is engaging concerted efforts by promoters, publicists, and corporate agents to sell Korean culture as a commodity (Ravina 2009), to yield the most benefit from this global cultural economy.

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