Does Hallyu play a role to widen genuine Korean culture?

                                                 121018 Kim Sangwoo


Today, Korean culture is catching the world as a whole. From tiny characters printed on notebooks to rhythmical popsong ‘Gangnam style’ resounding in Time Square, Hallyu is flowing throughout the entire earth. Almost all Koreans, as well as me, are proud of this large-looking popularity of Korean culture around the world. For a general Korean public, it is really hard to disbelieve the enormous fame of Korean culture that was exaggeratedly reported by Korean media. However, even though most Korean media inform the aspect of Hallyu grandiloquently, it is not clear that this Korean culture boom truly gives positive effects to widening culture of its motherland, Korea. Even in cases of K-Pop, Korean soap operas, and Korean dishes, it is obvious that Korean culture wave is not that much beneficial for spreading genuine Korean culture.

Above all, K-Pop, which has the widest range of its fan region, is not enough to convey Korean culture. In fact, Korean pop songs are nothing but a tiny part of Korean entertainment culture. K-Pops are produced by several specific entertainment management companies, composed by several specific songwriters, choreographed by several specific choreographers, and performed by several specific idol stars. Receiving attention from Korean public is almost impossible for a tenderfoot pop singer in Korea. Although there came some audition programs for scouting talented Koreans who want to be a Korean pop star, it is still really hard to become a successful Korean pop performer without joining and exercising in a famous entertainment management company. In contrast, if one, luckily, selected its entertainment company well, then he or she could become a really famous K-Pop performer, even if he or she has quite low ability for doing the performance as common pop stars. Therefore, Korean pop culture, which is consisted of selected performers from selected companies, could not represent the whole Korean culture. In addition, K-Pop even does not have an aspect of accurate musical culture. General famous Korean pop songs have nothing but addictive tunes, which mean they do not have demanded musical worth. What is more, those songs are composed by songwriters, not idol stars. What Korean idol stars do is just doing a choreography made by a dancer, and singing a song made by a songwriter. Showy choreographs with addictive melodies and cynically-pretended raps that are performed by handsome boys or glamorous girls are just enough to catch a normal guy’s mind. For me, it is not the part of the culture of my country, but just a business for commercial purpose. Since K-Pop industry is aside from considering musical value, it is insufficient to play a role to build an appropriate musical culture even in Korea.

Moreover, Korean soap operas, which are very effective to convey cultures of daily life in Korea, are limiting their ability by setting the background in the play as far different from everyday life of Korean public. Most soap operas that made a hit in Korea usually have a special concept about the main character’s background, such as royal family of Silla or Chosun, wealthy family of current Korea, a secret organization of Korea, or a family that is undergoing abject poverty. Since usual Korean soap operas take drastic settings, they tend to fail to convey the aspect of daily culture of Korea. In case of historical dramas in Korea, they explain the structure of national organization of ancient Korean countries well. Main character is commonly a person who has a dream to overcome the social position of old Korean states, and settings are based on the historical facts of Korea. However, although Korean historical dramas introduce ancient Korean cultures well, they are not related to current Korean culture, and this point is the worst weakness of Korean historical dramas. On the other hand, in case of soap operas that has modern settings, relies on popularity of its actors and actresses so that they do not care much about the background and plots. In some specific cases, some famous K-Pop performers who have very low ability to act, ruin the whole business of its drama so that a huge damage is taken. Besides, the commercial structure of Korean soap operas is really freakish so that it restrains the development capabilities of Korean soap operas. There are many examples of failure of completing the series due to the bankruptcy of the producer company. Producing a series of Korean drama in Korea is really time consuming and cost demanding. There are litigation from several Korean actors and actresses to the producer company for taking their appearance fee. In fact, the half of income from broadcasting dramas is from advertisements that appear at the end scene of each episodes of a series. Because the commercial base of Korean soap operas is weak than other part of Hallyu, koreans whose job is related to drama businesses of Korea are taking damages from working for Korean soap opera commerce. Thus, since the drama business in Korea is very weak at its commercial sides, Korean soap operas are not enough to convey Korean daily cultures through the world.

Last but not least, the Korean cuisines need more investments and studies. Because most of Korean cuisines are not yet be able to commercially produced, the worldwide awareness of Korean dishes are currently low. Even though there are a lot of Korean cuisines which have capability of attracting people’s mind such as tteokbokki (spiced rice cake), dakkangjeong(sauced chicken balls), or galbijjim(soybean sauced pork), not many people in the world are aware of Korean dishes. Personally speaking, I thought that Korean dishes are better for health than dishes in U.S. after I went to the United States for school trip. .Most cuisines in U.S was too salty, spicy, or too sweet. I could understand why most Korean people are skinny by contrasting food culture of two countries. Korean dishes are not sufficient to convey Korean culture to the world since not so many Koreans are interested in the subject.

To sum up, I think Hallyu is not enough to spread the genuine Korean culture through the world. Korean pop songs are not appropriate to represent the whole musical culture of Korea.




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