South Korea has long been known as the leading country in Asia for entertainment industry. The recent study of Woongjae (2009, p. 139) has found that South Korea has become the world’s seventh-largest film market, ‘with national film attendance totals by 2000 exceeding 70 million’. When Korean drama spread out over Asian countries and some other parts of the world, people started to be aware of the term ‘Hallyu’ (or ‘Korean Wave’), which ‘evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the Internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube’ (Wikipedia).
At the beginning of 1990s, the ‘Korean Wave’ became popular with a significant spread of Korean cinema and music across the East, the South and Southeast Asia. Asians generations in this period of time will never forget those Korean dramas namely ‘The Winter Sonata’ or ‘Stairs to Heaven’, etc.
‘Winter Sonata ‘poster
In Asian countries, Korean drama is even more popular and recognised than Hollywood films. Why is this happen? Why Korean drama has notably influenced Asian cultures? Several common reasons on a sudden rise of ‘Hallyu’ and Korean dramas have been identified and include ‘family-oriented Confucian values, the Asian mode of modernity and/or Korea’s soft power’ (Dal Yong & Kyong 2016, p. 1280).
Mainly, Korean dramas become familiar with Asian people because they concentrate on the similarities of different cultures in Asia. Asian people, in general, interpret the world around them similarly because of being raised and educated in the same way. What Korean movies do are portraying real life on the screen and focus mainly on how Asian people will react to different real-life situations. Empathy between what is shown on the small screen and viewers’ experiences is the key point to keep Korean dramas top choices for a large amount of audiences.
Woongjae, R 2009, ‘Globalization, or the logic of cutural hybridization: The case of the Korean wave’, Asian Journal of Communication, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 137-151.
Wikipedia, ‘The Korean Wave’, viewed on September 1st 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Wave>
Dal Yong, J. & Kyong, Y 2016, ‘The social mediascape of transnational Korean pop culture: Hallyu 2.0 as spreadable media practice’, New Media and Society, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 1277-1292.