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Boom of Korean Culture

Have you heard about PSY and his famous “Oppa” Gangnam Style?  The most viewed video on Youtube from South Korea. For sure for plenty of people, it was the first time to discover Korean entertainment. However, the attraction towards this country and its culture came from far back than that.

In this article you’ll grab what is hiding behind this cultural phenomenon.

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Most known as Hallyu or Korean Cultural Wave, the name refers to the spread of Korean culture all around the world. Hallyu includes K-Pop (music), K-drama (series) and cinema. It also refers to Korea’s high technology, food, literacy, cosmetics (BB cream) etc.

For sure, the popularity of Hallyu is mostly caused by K-drama and K-pop. Since the first diffusion of K-drama in China in the end of 90s, the Korean Culture has consistently grown. What is love all about became the first huge hit in China. More than a decade later the Korean entertainment keeps going to passionate millions of young people and penetrated all the continents.

Let’s be focused on K-Pop and K-drama.

What is K-Pop (Korean popular music)? Boys-bands and girls-bands who sing in Korean with an English chorus, flawless choreographies and original looks. Of course you can also find solo artists. Pop, Rock, Hip-hop or ballad, the choice is large. Members of a band train for few years before starting their career, they are chosen for their talent and beauty as significant criteria. Some of them are especially chosen for their physic, like “L” Infinite’s member. Obviously, visual esthetic is an important point of K-pop, same as for American pop, and linguistic barrier is far from being a problem.

K-pop is a commercial music. For the best reach abroad to influence as much audience as possible music agencies can create sub-bands. For example, Super Junior, one of the most popular bands, has some members who are a part of different sub-bands. One is dedicated to Chinese market. Another one sings only ballads. Bands can count a lot of members; SNSD is composed of eight of them. With a music market shared among three mains agencies and some other smaller ones: the music offer of K-pop is each year renewed with the arrival of several new bands. The longevity of K-pop bands is short; a few withstand time like Super Junior, Big Bang or BTS.

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What about K-drama? TV shows from South Korea include romance, action, thriller, mystery or comedy. They don’t have seasons like in American TV shows. The most popular usually have 16 to 20 episodes. Saeguk (historic drama) have usually more than 30 episodes. Drama is a good way to discover some aspects of the Korean life. If you want to know more about the Korean work life watch Misaeng. If you’re more interested by Korean history watch The Princess’man or Empress Ki, there is also Bridal mask on the subject of Japanese colonization. Dramas are often romantic comedies or melodramas. Definitely, K-drama is a marketing product of good quality to promote the country and its works.

Each year a ceremony to reward the best drama takes place. You can even find it subtitled on Youtube. Everything is done to follow the news of South Korean cultural scene. K-pop and k-drama have spread outside Korea thanks to the internet. You can easily access platforms dedicated to watching k-drama and listening k-pop. VIKI, Drama Fever, even on Netflix you can find some K-drama. Of course if you want to listen some K-pop and watch live KPOP show you should check YouTube.

Passing fad or real long-term stay of South Korean soft power like Japan mania? All is settled by the government to keep the soft power Korean on top, to attract the majority of people.

Hallyu, more specifically K-pop and K-drama are one step to discover Korean culture. Actually, South Korean culture continues to spread around, it’s an alternative to the American culture.

Obviously, the industry of K-pop hides a dark side. Hope I have awakened your curiosity.

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Aida Athmani

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