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Export of Korean pop culture is evolving: KOTRA study

Posted July. 11, 2011 02:59,   


Four Korean pop songs made Thailand`s top 20 chart last year, and six Korean pop music concerts were held in that country.

In Japan, regional broadcasters, satellite and cable TV stations all air Korean dramas regularly.

○ Evolution of `Korean Wave` by country

In Japan, China and Thailand, hallyu, or the "Korean Wave," is no longer the exclusive property of cult fans but is instead growing popular among a broader market. Related products also sell well.

Simply put, the Korean Wave has reached a mature stage in these countries. The Korea Trade-Promotion Agency, or KOTRA, announced the results of a survey Sunday after its overseas Korean Business Centers in 94 regions studied Korean Wave trends abroad.

KOTRA classified six countries including Uzbekistan and the Philippines where the Korean Wave is in its “growth” stage, indicating huge popularity but sales of related products in the initial stage. Over the past two years, 20 Korean dramas have been aired in Uzbekistan, including the historical series "Yi San," "Dae Jo Yeong" and "Jumong," but product sales are in their infancy.

In 23 countries including the U.K., Germany and Zimbabwe, the Korean Wave is in the “recognition” stage, indicating gradual recognition by the general public, and in the "introduction stage" in Sri Lanka and India, showing its growing popularity among hardcore fans.

According to KOTRA’s categorization of the evolution of the Korean Wave by country, hallyu began in Asian countries such as Japan and China, spread to countries in Europe and the Americas, and expanded further to countries in the Middle East and Africa.

○ Newest Korean Wave trend?

The newest and hot Korean Wave trend can be summarized by the following sentence: “Teenagers in Europe, Peru and Uzbekistan are accessing K-pop through social networking services.”

Korean cultural content is diversifying to better appeal to people across the globe. While the first wave began with dramas such as "Winter Sonata" and "Daejanggeum (Jewel in the Palace)," the latest wave is centered on K-pop idol stars.

If only boy idol groups such as Big Bang and Super Junior are popular in a country, it means that the Korean Wave has yet spread further there. Countries with the “newest” wave trends are enthusiastic over girl idol groups such as Kara and Girls’ Generation.

The demand for Korean Wave has also been diversified. While the popularity was initially focused on middle-aged and older people as evidenced by the legion of housewife fans in Japan, it is now spreading to the younger generation. Amid the popularity of Korean historical dramas and soap operas, trendy series such as “Boys over Flowers” and “You Are Handsome” are also increasingly popular among teenagers.

Overseas fans are also accessing the Korean Wave through newer channels. While Korean dramas and music could be accessed via TV, the use of social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter is gaining in popularity. Korean dramas are aired on TV after a certain time lag, but such sites provide them in real time.

Exports of Korean Wave products have also been diversified. While exports of sound and publication rights are common, formats are now increasingly being exported. In China, where foreign drama imports are strictly regulated, Korean dramas are being remade into Chinese versions.

Korean actors are also being cast in these remade dramas. Actress Chu Ja-hyun stars in the Chinese version of the Korean drama “Temptation of a Wife,” while Jang Hyuk is in the Chinese remake of “All About Eve.”

Korean variety show formats are also popular. The format of “Kang Ho-dong’s Match Made in Heaven” was sold to China’s Shanghai Media Group.