'Hallyu,' Korean wave, will not last 5 years
By Kim Susan Se-jeong
“’Hallyu’ will cool down in four years.”
Six out of 10 foreigners believe the recent popularity of Korean culture -- K-pop, movies and drama series, or soap operas -- will cool down in the next few years.
Sixty percent of 3,600 people in nine countries, including China, Japan, Thailand, the United States and France, were doubtful that Hallyu will see lasting international success, according to a survey by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE).
Hallyu, which started with the popular Korean drama “Winter Sonata” in 2002 and continues with Girls’ Generation, is still hot all over the world. Thus, Koreans, who were drunk on the international Korean culture craze, were shocked at the survey results.
The main reason foreigners doubted Hallyu’s continuing success is because they are becoming “tired of standardized contents,” as 20.5 percent of respondents agreed.
Sexualized dances, lyrics and clothes are common among K-pop “idols,” or teen singers. Korea drama series repeatedly revisit topics like adulterous affairs, revenge and secrets around the characters’ birth or identity, making it difficult to move a desensitized audience.
Experts believe it is time Hallyu got a makeover.
Korea needs to sell its own unique “story” to win over other countries, integrating the national tradition and culture into the standardized Korean pop culture, said exerts.
“Contents that aren’t original and diverse will not survive the market. Thus, it is essential to diversify the ‘stories’ told by the media,” said an official of the culture ministry. “We also need to encourage financial investments in media, because you can’t create a masterpiece with just a great story and an idea.”
In today’s society, “story” equals money. A unique story will help make a drama, movie, game or animation a success.
The worldwide bestseller, “Harry Potter” series, shows how powerful a story can be. The brand value of JK Rowling’s seven-volume series rose to $15 billion over a decade, landing the author $1 billion profit. The story of the “wizarding world,” comprised of seven books, eight films, various games and a theme park, which opened in Florida in 2010 contributed an estimated $6 trillion to the London’s economy annually. This is equivalent to the profit that Samsung Electronics, the largest Korean business, made in the first quarter of last year.
There are a few successful stories in Hallyu media as well.
The number of tourist visiting Namiseom, a small island on Han River in Chuncheon, hit a record 2.3 million last year. As many as 18 percent, or 400,000, were foreigners.
This is the result of “Winter Sonata.” The popular Korean drama, starring Choi Ji-woo and Bae Yong-joon, aired from January to March 2002, using Nami islet as its backdrop.
Namiseom became the first Hallyu success as middle-aged Japanese women flocked to see the scenes from the drama after it aired. Namiseom uses a method of storytelling, recreating the story at every corner of the island for tourists to visit.
Namiseom calls itself the “Republic of Nami,” and makes visitors pass through an “Immigration Bureau.” Many believe that unique programs like this and celebrations like “National Day” for foreigners also contributed to attracting tourists.
As well, “Seoul Forum 2012” released its plans to help globalize Hallyu in Dynasty Hall, Shilla Seoul hotel, Jung-gu, Seoul, May 16-17.
Caption: Girls’ Generation, a popular K-pop group, poses with Bill Murray, actor and co-guest, on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” January 31, top photo. / K-pop girl group T-ara at a photo shoot, bottom left. / Lee Byung-hun poses for the cameras at the press release for a drama, bottom right.