Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Korean Wave -- Korean Pop Culture

By now enough people have seen the "Gangnam Style" music video or at least heard the song, so that even those people that were not aware of the proliferation of Korean pop culture around the world are now also aware of South Korea's entertainment industry. (If you still don't know what I'm talking about, you must have been kidnapped by aliens or something. Read a synopsis the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon at The Telegraph, and see the music video here.)

I have traveled to a number of Asian countries and have always been surprised to see Korean pop: while sitting in a restaurant in Hong Kong I'd suddenly hear a K-pop song; while walking the streets of Bangkok (Thailand) there would be advertisements with an attractive Korean star; even while reclining in a hotel bed in Vientiane (communist Laos) I watched a Korean television broadcast (Arirang TV). Certain neighborhoods in Seoul are crawling with Japanese and Chinese tourists coming to buy fashionable clothes and memorabilia of Korean actors from Korean soap-operas (known as Korean dramas). Myeongdong in particular is such a touristy hot spot, and then, of course, for those who can afford it, there is Gangnam.

K-pop queen BoA
(Image Source)
Some of Korea's top musicians are superstars both locally and abroad. Psy with his silly "Gangnam Style" is just the latest of a long list of Korean entertainers to gain a fan base abroad. Examples are BoA (Kwon Bo-a), who is particularly popular in Japan and among the Asian community in the United States, but is also well applauded in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. (Websites: KoreaUSAJapan.) Before, Psy, Rain (Jung Jihoon) was probably Korea's most famous male entertainer, known for both his hip-hop dance music and for his film career which included collaboration with the Wachowski Brothers (producers of the Matrix-films) on the film Ninja Assassin. South Korea is particularly known for their sexy gaggles of boy- and girl bands. The Koreans have mastered the pop industry. I'm not a fan of pop music, but that doesn't prevent me from noticing the high level of pop template mastery the Koreans have achieved. They have distilled the most prudent ingredients and follow the recipes to the tee. The songs are very catchy, with great hooks, awesome beats, and beautiful stars with knock-out bodies performing fantastically choreographed dance moves. K-pop is consumed throughout Asia and even in the rest of the world.

Rain: Singer / Actor / Model
(Image Source)

South Korea's extremely popular and boarder-hopping pop-culture is known as "Korean Wave" or "Hanlyu" (pronounced: hah-lyoo). You can download a small booklet on Korean Wave here. For anybody that is intrigued with Korean pop culture, I highly recommend it. I believe, as I suggested before, that Korean Wave is doing more towards destabilizing North Korea than all the political strategies, posturing and international sanctioning combined.


BoerinBallingskap said...

Baie goeie opsomming en ek het gehou van die Telegraph artikel. Jy vat raak en ek kan nie anders as om saam te stem nie. Veral wat jy noem mbt die invloed van die K-Kultuur op die Noorde.

BoerinBallingskap said...

O-ja! Wou nog noem: Ek hou baie van BOA. :)Sexy lady (soos Psy sing).

Skryfblok said...


BoA is inderdaad 'n sexy lady. Wat ek van haar hou is dat sy nie probeer "cute" wees soos so tipies van die K-popsterre nie. Daardie aangeplakte cute-geit maak my gril!