[KS] RE: Korea-mania in China

Young-Key Kim-Renaud kimrenau at gwu.edu
Wed Oct 3 20:02:31 EDT 2001

Dear Eugene and others,

During a short trip to Vietnam last summer, I was surprised to learn from a 
dignified concierge of a fancy hotel in Ho Chi Minh City that he and many of 
his friends faithfully watched a Korean serialized TV drama (YOnsokkUk).  
Contrary to what your Korean colleagues suggested, my impression was that 
those Vietnamese viewers saw in the Korean-export dramas something "Asian" and 
"non-Western" such as "family values" (in the words of the concierge), with 
which they felt they could empathize.  Plus, Korean actors and performers look 
much more like them than those in Hollywood productions, thus making the story 
or performance look more realistic, familiar, and close.  That little "Asian" 
flavor in those seemingly Westernized cultural productions by Koreans may be 
what might attract these other Asian audiences including many Japanese, 
working as a kind of anti-dote to overly homogenizing or "colonial" global 
culture.  Finally, there is this notion of a "role model" in the sense that 
many Vietnamese and Chinese seem to want to emulate the level of economic and 
cultural achievements of Koreans they have come to appreciate.  It looks to me 
like a solidarity of some sort.  From a totally different perspective, there 
is a certain addictive element in these serialized Korean dramas.  Once you 
start watching one, it is hard to just drop it.  For me, it is a little like 
going back home, too.


Young-Key Kim-Renaud
Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs
The George Washington University

>===== Original Message From "Eugene Y. Park" 
<parkey at benfranklin.hnet.uci.edu> =====
>Dear All,
>Just recently I was talking about the same phenomenon with some
>academics in Korea.  I proposed, rightly or wrongly, that perhaps South
>Korea is now in a position to export its own pop culture.  In response,
>another professor suggested that young kids in the PRC and Vietnam are
>not so much attracted to things South Korean as western/pop cultural
>productions that "happen to be" produced by South Koreans.
>Is this a useful disctinction?  I remain undecided.
>---------Included Message----------
>Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 09:51:36 -0400 (EDT)
>From: <cra10 at columbia.edu>
>Reply-To: <korean-studies at iic.edu>
>To: <korean-studies at iic.edu>
>Subject: Korea-mania in China
>Dear all,
>I recently returned from Beijing and was struck by the rampant craze
>there for all things (South) Korean. The Chinese term, "Da Han liu,"
>is freely translated as "Korea-mania" in, for example, the nightly
>South Korean pop music hour on the music video channel "V". "Hanguo
>(Hanguk)," as opposed to "Chaoxian (Choson)," restaurants are
>ubiquitous and seem quite popular. And so on. Something
>similar is apparently happening in Vietnam, whose young
>people have also recently gone crazy over South Korean pop
>culture. In the case of China, this obviously is related to the
>burgeoning economic and political relations between the ROK and the
>PRC, the political incorrectness of showing too much affection for
>Japanese and Taiwanese pop culture (and thus Korea wins by default),
>and other issues. But I wonder if anyone has looked seriously into
>this and has attempted to explain why the craze has taken off so
>dramatically at this point in time. This seems to me a fascinating
>phenomenon of intra-Asian cultural relations, and probably the first
>instance of such a major export of Korean culture into the continent
>in modern history. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
>Charles K. Armstrong
>Assistant Professor of History
>Columbia University
>---------End of Included Message----------
>Eugene Y. Park
>Assistant Professor of Korean History
>University of California, Irvine
>Department of History
>Irvine, CA 92697-3275
>Ph. (949) 824-5275
>Fax (949) 824-2865

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