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[Opinion] X-files and the Korean Wave

Posted January. 26, 2005 23:07,   


There are voices of concern that the document dubbed “Entertainers` X-Files” may give a blow to the “Korean wave.” The negative image of the entertainers in question, built by faulty or exaggerated information, is bound to affect the Korean wave. The Japanese and Chinese press have already reported the contents of the file and the conditions under which it was released in detail. Asahi reported that Bae Yong-joon, who stands at the center of the Korean Wave, was one of the victims of the incident, and a newspaper in Beijing said, “The Korean wave has been hard hit by the X-file.”

It is an unfortunate incident. If things continue, Korea will lose a golden opportunity to have its culture be highly recognized by the outside world and spread worldwide even before reaching its peak. We should gather our efforts to minimize the damage. Even amid the possible legal arguments over the document, we should make sure that the foreign media does not make use of or exaggerate the issue. Keep in mind that jealousy of stars of the Korean wave, particularly male stars, is the real cause for negative reports.

According to research, “Winter Sonata,” a Korean drama that created the “Yon-sama fad” in Japan, generated economic value of \2.4 trillion in Korea and Japan. However, the true value of the Korean wave lies in its cultural power. After the end of the cold war, the focus of international relations moved to systems, regulations and cultures from the benefit and power of its countries. In other words, we are witnessing the “revival of systems.” A system is made possible by communication between nations, and is completed by culture.

Some Korean academics see the Korean wave as a product of neo- liberalism, created by the combination of international capital and the hegemonism of strong nations. Some experts even argue that Japan has created teen idol stars in line with its new strategy to rule East Asia. However, I believe that these arguments are nothing more than self-torment. Rather, we should believe in the cultural power of Korea and support the Korean wave so that it can serve as a route of communication connecting all of Asia. In this regard, the X-file incident can teach us many lessons.

Lee Jae-ho, Editorial writer, leejaeho@donga.com