Go to contents

Korean Wave backlash in Taiwan

Posted January. 02, 2012 18:13,   


The term "hallyu," or Korean Wave, first emerged in Taiwan. According to Ryu Mingryang, public information minister at the Taiwanese mission in Korea, Taiwanese media coined the term “hallyu” in 1997. People in Taiwan call “alert for a cold spell” hallyu (寒流), and Taiwanese media reportedly replaced the Chinese character meaning “cold (寒)” with that meaning “Korea (韓)” to issue a warning against the competitiveness of Korean dramas given the popularity of shows imported from Korea that year.

Singer Kim Wan-sun enjoyed immense popularity in Taiwan in 1994 when she entered the island state. She recalled that time by saying, “Mimicking my poor Chinese-language skills spread as vogue in Taiwan.” Hallyu started to surface in China in 1997 when CCTV aired the Korean drama “What is Love.” In this sense, Kim is a hallyu pioneer. The male rap duo Clon (Koo Jun-yeop and Kang Wol-rae) also gained popularity in Taiwan in 1997. With their muscular physiques and strong facial impressions, they broke the prejudice that entertainers should look handsome in Taiwan.

In 2010, Taiwanese TV stations aired 162 Korean dramas or an average of 13 dramas per month. They broadcast as many as 120 Korean dramas in last year`s first half, yet Korean dramas have faced a flurry of negative sentiments there. In September 2011, Wu Denyih, Taiwan`s administration chief, said, “Taiwanese TV programs are outdated and boring, and are filled with Korean dramas,” criticizing the excessive airing of Korean shows. Recently, Taiwan’s National Communications Commission requested that Taiwanese broadcasters refrain from airing Korean dramas. As an example, one TV station was advised to air programs other than Korean dramas for at least one hour between 6 p.m. to midnight per day.

Protests against the airing of Korean dramas also occurred in Japan in August 2011, while anti-hallyu sentiment remains unabated in China as well. K-pop gained an enthusiastic response in Europe and the U.S. last year, taking a step closer to the globalization of the Korean Wave. But hallyu is also earning a hostile response in proportion to its positive developments. Since Korea is exporting its culture, the solution to these problems is for Korea to continue efforts to understand and accept cultures of other countries. If export of culture is unilateral, it cannot continue for a long time. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Seoul-Beijing ties and severed relations with Taiwan. Korea should be the first who sends overtures to assure more extensive cultural and human exchanges.

Chief Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)